Preparing for a Home Inspection: An Interview with JM Rodkey, Co.

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

JM Rodkey, Co. is a diversified real estate support company assisting select clients with secondary avenues of property assistance. The inspection arm, JMRodkey, Inspections, offers home inspections in the Pioneer Valley, Western Worcester County and the Berkshires. The customary home inspection requested by our clients includes the standard home inspection, wood destroying insect inspection and radon testing. With higher end homes, we also help with limited pool/spa, tennis court, irrigation, and life-safety inspections. Other services of JM Rodkey, Co. include relocation, insurance and bank REO work.

How did you get into this line of work?

Initially it was a community service idea to help low income families with home inspections at lower rates. We still do this with discounted inspections for small home, 1st time home buyers and active military personnel. However, our reputation among discriminating clients who needed more than the minimums in a profile of their home, invited the expansion to more exclusive demands that exceed the customary inspection. Our services aren't for everyone, but for those that need more detail, higher competency, expanded support services after the inspection, have higher amenities, we are unique.

How important is a proper home inspection?

This is probably the most important aspect of buying a home. The inspection is truly objective. We have no interest in the property and give the client a chance to see their home in ways that are often impossible with the exciting emotions of purchasing a home. The inspection is also a strong tool for negotiating when discoveries reveal components that may need attention, but of which the client (and often times the seller) had no idea of when making their initial purchase offer. The inspection also give a reasonable profile of how the house may behave once they move in, with a list of worn components, or aging systems that they should make financial plans for as the years progress. Of course, the inspection cannot be exhaustive, can never predict future behavior of a home, when a component will fail, or purport to be some kind of warranty, but it does give a reasonable idea of what to expect.

How important is environmental testing on your home? How often should you receive this service?

During the inspection period, we can get a fairly accurate picture of the indoor environment. Factors such as radon are undetectable without sophisticated monitoring. Our equipment evaluates radon, air pressure, humidity and temperature that can characterize variables that may impact paint failure, mold/mildew development or combustion air of the furnace. We generally don't investigate mold since our climate is so ubiquitous with the spores. Usually, if it's visible, that's enough to know some action needs to be taken.

How much does the value of the home increase with a proper inspection?

I really couldn't say that a home's value increases in any measurable way because of a home inspection itself, but if the recommendations made within the report are followed, there should be an appreciable gain. For instance, if GFCI's are added to the kitchen and bath, the home immediately becomes safer and, in my opinion, a more valuable property.

What should customers look for in a qualified home inspector?

All of us Massachusetts home inspectors much meet minimum standards set forth by the Board of Professional Licensure. However, many of us are also active members of the American Society of Home Inspectors of New England which sets a higher level of competency and peer review. Us ASHI-NE inspections meet monthly for peer review and lectures from manufacturers, state officials, real estate leaders, fire officials, and construction specialists that keep the ASHI-NE inspector ahead of the curve with some of the most competent knowledge around. I would be hesitant myself to use an inspector that was not part of ASHI.

What are the most common mistakes made in the home inspection process?

The most common oversight is the failure to prepare for the inspection. Many sellers take time to make a nice presentation of their home with candles, air fresheners and even coffee and donuts. Where this may be helpful in presenting the home in an appealing way for buyers, this only gets in the way of the home inspection. We need access cleared to the attic, electric panel, oil tank, gas meter, water meter, well equipment, water heater, furnace, roof, beneath the deck crawl spaces and the like. Too often we have to spend time having personal belongings cleared away so the inspection can proceed. Some of the best real estate agents I have worked with are one step ahead of me, making sure the next area for the inspection is cleared and ready to go, or they have briefed the owners on the utilitarian nature of the inspection and have them set out drop cloths, open access panels and move furniture (some of the worst agents seem to like sitting at the kitchen table hobnobbing ? not helpful).

What should more people be doing in order to improve the condition of their house?

Electrical issues seem pervasive. Many home are replete with non-professional, unpermitted electrical work that often is at risk of fire. I would almost suggest people hire an electrician to review their system and make corrections whether they are in the market, or not. There is a lot of risk here, much of it hidden unknown. Insulation and energy efficiency are also important. For instance, the D.O.E. is now recommending upwards t R-60 in attics, compared with what we expected a few years ago of R-32. Beefing up the attic insulation can be important.

What makes your inspection services better/different than other comparable companies?

We really work at meeting a higher standard than the minimums. Unique to JMRodkey, Inspections is our relationship with the top rated support networks in the country unmatched by other area inspectors. We have at our disposal the Inspection Support Network in Las Vegas, Home Inspection Pro in Claremont, CA, and Casey O'Malley Associates in Fallbrook, CA. These allow us to access consultant when needed for questionable issues in a home, as well as maintain concise communication and report delivery. We also keep on retainer legal advisors to review our contracts and advise us on questionable issues so clients have solid inspections.

How often should people be getting their house inspected?

I'm not certain the occasional maintenance inspection is necessary. Most of us know when things are not working well in our homes. But I would advocate sellers having a pre-listing inspection, or at least an informal seller's consultation. Many of the issues we find in a home are unknown to the seller, and when discovered can through a wrench into the purchase and sale process. If sellers had their home reviewed before the listing, even if only as a cursory consultation, a lot of small things like loose receptacles, missing handrails, sheet metal screws in the electric box, creosote in the chimney, leaking faucet or water temperature being too high, could be addressed, making the buyers inspection much cleaner and the negating process much easier.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

The office staff is here Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m., and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can also drop a note at

- Self Service -

Earn 2% by doing it yourself!

Watch a demo of how it works!