Understanding Your Home Inspection Report: An Interview with Chris Feroli of A Quality Home Inspection Inc.

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

I have worked in the construction trades for 27 years. I specialized in the masonry trades to include swimming pools, decks, walks, patios, staircases. I have also done plaster work with experience in exterior stucco as well as interior 1, 2 and 3 coat systems. I have also worked on asphalt roofs, sidewall, decks and various other projects.

I began my home inspection training in 2008. In MA you are required to do 75 hours of dedicated class time in different systems, ie: structure, plumbing, electrical, roof etc. I completed my class room time in 2009 and began my training inspections. In MA you are required to complete 125 inspections under a licensed inspector. (25 observational and 100 where you have to write a report) This is done almost as an apprenticeship and the training inspectors do not get paid. You must also pass a nationwide home inspector exam and hold an associate license for no less than 1 year. I was able to complete my training in late 2010 and I have been in business since early 2011. I am an A.S.H.I. Certified Inspector with A.S.H.I. # 251664 (American Society of Home Inspectors). To receive certification an individual must do 250 fee paid inspections and submit 10 reports that are then verified to follow the A.S.H.I. Standards of Practice. I am also a member of Angie's List and A Quality Home Inspection, Inc. has been awarded Angie's List Super Service Award in 2012 & 2013. The one word that is used to describe A Quality Home Inspection is "thorough".

A Quality Home Inspection, Inc. offers:
Pre-Purchase Home Inspections
Pre-Sale Home Inspections
Problem Analysis Inspections
Problem Resolution or Mediation
Maintenance Inspections
Duplex Home Inspections
2 or 3 Family Home Inspections
Condominium Inspections
Water Quality Analysis
Radon test kits also available

How long is a standard home inspection report and when should a client expect to get it?

My reports are narrative and very comprehensive. They range from 90-110 pages complete with color photographs of the systems and conditions noted. I also include helpful links and illustrations of proper installation methods. The client receives the report by email that same day so they are able to make an informed decision on the property.

Can you briefly explain what standards and/or techniques an inspection report in your state abide by?

MA has a very precise Standards Of Practice which as Home Inspectors we must comply with or risk Board review which can lead to fines, censure or license revocation depending on how severe the infraction or infractions are. The easiest way to explain it would be this. We use an O.A.R. system (Observation, Analysis, Recommendation) In my report there will be a paragraph such as:

Observation: The mortar joints between the bricks at the front steps have eroded open.
Analysis: Maintenance has been postponed. Be advised that open mortar joints will allow water to enter between the bricks leading to frost heave and more rapid staircase deterioration. Repair is needed.
Recommendation: You should ask a licensed and insured masonry contractor to examine the steps and to determine the scope of needed repairs (repointing versus reconstruction). Seek a cost estimate NOW in order to determine the impact on your budget.

My main focus is to find the problems, make you aware of the deficiencies and suspected causes if possible and guide you in the direction needed. That direction could be monitor; repair or further investigation is needed.

What are the most important parts of the report for a homeowner or home buyer to read thoroughly?

I report on Exterior, Garage, Roof, Heat, Electrical, Plumbing, Structure, Kitchen, Bathrooms, Interior, Insulation and Ventilation. I have to say that I recommend they read and understand the ENTIRE report as no one section is less important than another. A house is not individual systems, it is more than that. For instance: If the home lacks kickout flashing at a roof/wall intersection (Roof) then water will be allowed to bypass the gutter and wet the sidewall shingles speeding decay (Exterior) which could lead to water infiltration into the living spaces (Interior). It's all connected and working together to keep you warm, safe and dry. I write a homeowners manual for your new home, potentially the largest investment you will make in your lifetime. Which section do you feel needs less attention than the next?

How are photographs used during and after the inspection?

I document my findings with a digital camera on every inspection. I take on average from 120-150 photographs per inspection and include them in the report for several reasons.
1) I can go back and look again while I am writing the report at my office so nothing is missed.
2) It gives the client a view of the problem so they can understand it better.
3) To protect myself from someone saying that I didn't inspect something. If I have a photo, I inspected it!

What is the difference between primary and secondary conditions? Can you list some of the most common primary conditions you've seen some houses?

I really don't use terms as primary or secondary. I would consider any SAFETY HAZARDS listed in the report as primary and needing immediate attention. I would also recommend conditions that require further evaluations such as electrical problems, plumbing issues or any structural deficiencies where a builder or structural engineer was needed as a primary concern.

I was on an inspection of a home that had a block foundation with a horizontal crack on all four walls half way up the wall. The foundation was bowing inward and was no longer able to withstand the hydraulic pressures being exerted and a structural engineer was needed to further evaluate and make recommendations for repair. The electrical system is always in need of some repair or upgrade due to the ever changing electrical codes. I explain to my clients that "when it was done it was proper and allowable, however modern standards are different and NO repair is needed at this time, but when an electrician does come in, he will have to bring whatever he works on up to current standards." I always try to put my findings into prospective for my clients so they can understand if it needs to be addressed now or can it go on the "Honey-Do List".

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

I cover all of Cape Cod and The Islands as well as the South Shore of MA to Rhode Island and as far North as Quincy and Franklin. Please feel free to call for a quote or to schedule an inspection: (508) 364 7714 or email me at: aqualityhomeinspection@comcast.net.

I also have a web site with many helpful links for prospective homebuyers as well: www.AQualityhi.com.

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