Preparing Your House for a Home Inspection: An Interview with Ken Bates of Ace Home Inspections

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Back in the late 90's I decided to give Real Estate sales another spin after a half year of working for a Harvard Square company in 1975 as a Broker on a part time basis. The buyer I represented told me he had hired the best home inspector. After observing the inspector, who is one of the best inspectors, I realized that I knew what he is doing and that I could become and inspector. So I attended Northeastern University where I was trained by practicing experts.

My father was a carpenter and I assisted him in building our own house when I was a pre-teen. As a home owner Since 1977 I gained experience in all the trades by doing remodeling and repairs myself. The unique and specialized knowledge I acquired at Northeastern provided me with the expertise to be a home and building inspector (I earned A's in all subjects).

My first clients were friends and others who appreciated the value of maintenance inspections, which allowed me to gain experience without putting anyone at risk due to a poor inspection that overlooked significant defects and deficiencies in a major financial investment. So, once I gained experience and confidence I advertised my services and was hired by clients who were willing to take a risk by employing a relatively inexperienced inspector. Not one has regretted employing me and I can confidently say that all are happy they did.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Specific details of what is included in a home inspection can be seen on my web site: by selecting WHAT'S INCLUDED on the menu. A termite inspection is also included as a courtesy, and I can take water samples and biological (i.e.mold), samples and send them to qualified labs. Regulations prohibit us from taking Asbestos samples. Radon kits.

What key areas of a house should someone examine prior to having a home inspection? (e.g. stairs, electrical outlets, fire-code inspections)

Good question. Most people don't know that stairs can be killers. But little can be done to improve their safety, so buyers should be willing to accept the risks of dangerous stairs. Only a technically advanced inspection can reveal electrical dangers. Fire code regulations are practical and need more recognition. Safe egress is important and I always stress the importance of this.

What are the most common areas that fail home inspections?

Roofing and structure. There are several other areas that exhibit defects that are a concern but most buyers are willing to tolerate them and seek concessions from the sellers to keep the sale on track. The areas don't fail- the failure lies with the seller who failed to monitor and keep the systems in good repair.

For you personally, what area bothers you the most if it not up to code?

Electrical. Very few people die or become injured due to roof and plumbing leaks or drafty windows. But thousands of people perish every year due to fires that are often caused by electrical defects. Another area that is often not conforming to current codes is stairs. Most ordinary older homes have stairs that are too steep, especially those leading to a cellar or attic. Small treads, uneven riser heights and poor or no handrails can cause a crippling fall and even death but most people are not aware of this. But only exterior stairs lend themselves to safety improvement as there is little or no opportunity to reconfigure inside the residence.

Do you have any general advice for someone who is about to have a home inspection?

Choose your inspector by actually talking to him rather than a secretary or real estate salesperson. Also, don't let the fee be the deciding factor. It is unwise to hire by the lowest fee and it is foolish to pay too much. Most inspectors want to perform a faultless inspection for several reasons. The satisfaction that comes from a client who tells you how much they appreciated your thoroughness and expertise is a prime motivator for some of us. For all of us is the fear of a call from a client who is angry because they believe you performed under par and made ERRORS or OMISSIONS that they could have used to leverage repairs or a reduced the purchase price.

What are some consequences to failing a home inspection?

A stressed and unhappy seller. Salespersons who may have invested many hours finding and showing property to their customer the buyer for no ROI. Sometimes the inspector's client is unhappy that the inspector discovered awful things about the object of their desire (the dream house that they fell in love with). However, a good consequence is a buyer not taking on the financial burden of correcting poor work or deferred maintenance.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

Telephone (617) 782-9079. No contact via my website:

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