Mike Holmes take on Hirring an Home Inspector
I have to admit that after watching a few episodes of Holmes Inspection I wasn't a big fan. I had to keep reminding myself that this is reality TV and most home inspections are boring to the typical television viewer. Television producers will cherry pick from hours of video to get the juiciest sections to create a show that captivates the audience.
In preparation for my interview with Mike Holmes, I went over his background and I have to admit my opinion of him changed. Mike started his first construction company when he was 19. In 2001, he rose to media fame with Holmes on Homes which ran for seven seasons and was broadcast worldwide. In 2006, he started the Holmes Foundation to promote trades to young people and assist the impoverished who have had bad renovations. In 2009, he started the TV shows Holmes Inspection and Mike Holmes Inspection.
Bunzel: Can you tell us how the inspection side of your business came about?
Holmes: The number one complaint from homeowners during the seven seasons of Holmes on Homes was poor home inspections. After we did four different shows that had to address issues missed by home inspectors, we came up with the idea of basing a show around it and Holmes Inspection was created.
Bunzel: Is there such a thing as a perfect home inspection?
Holmes: Absolutely. Most aren't done correctly. Most inspectors don't have the knowledge to do good inspections. The number one step is better education. Two is having the proper background. We need to upgrade the industry. Home inspections should be more thorough and cost more. Most inspectors don't charge enough for their work. I think homebuyers should recruit an inspector before they start looking. Take the Realtor out of the loop. Re-evaluate how it is done. Buyers buy on impulse. Consumer education is key. Charge the right amount of money. The fees for a home inspection should start at $1,000. Inspectors should have tools to look into walls and pipes. On most inspections I do, I use my IR camera and snake camera. When inspectors see renovations they should be checking with the building departments to see if permits were pulled and approved.
Bunzel: As the owner of a multi-inspector company, what do you do to ensure the highest quality inspections?
Holmes: Any inspector we consider must have a background in construction and completed at least 1,000 inspections. We then send them into our training program which includes getting Level 1 IR Certified. We then observe them for 20-30 inspections before they go out on there own. We also have relationships with plumbers, electricians, HVAC and roofers that we can call in on issues where we need to go further. We can afford to do this because our basic inspection starts at $595 for a 2,500 square-foot home and the enhanced inspections (with IR inspection) start at $925.
Bunzel: Most home inspectors perform visual inspections- you routinely go beyond that, why?
Holmes: On the show we are usually going in after the home is purchased and issues are present. Is that realistic in a real estate transaction? No, it is not realistic. However IR and snake cameras can see issues into walls which help.
Bunzel: Do you encourage your inspectors to join professional organizations? Which ones?
Holmes: Yes - there are three in Canada. I encourage my guys to join all of them (the Canadian Association of Home Inspectors, American Society of Home Inspection, and the Ontario Building Inspectors Association).
Bunzel: How do you feel about home inspector licensing?
Holmes: Totally necessary. Licensing brings a minimum level of education and certifications are also key. I would like to see a national license for Canadian home inspectors.
Bunzel: Many home inspectors feel Holmes Inspection is disparaging to home inspectors in general and promotes your own company, how do you respond to them?
Holmes: Holmes on Homes had the same issue. Contractors now appreciate the visibility. I was raising the bar and became a voice of the industry. The same thing is happening here. I am highlighting the fact that there are inspectors out there who don't look deep enough to identify issues that affect people's lives. Home inspectors will come around just as contractors came around.
Bunzel: How do you like being a media star?
Holmes: I appreciate being in the position to educate people on what's right, whether it's how a home should be constructed or how it should be inspected. We are doing some good things here- Skills Canada, Building Initiatives and our Holmes Foundation work.
Author Rick Bunzel
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