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Home Inspection Best Practices: An Interview with Kyle Beckstrom of Madison Home Inspection LLC

By Kyle Beckstrom

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

I started Madison Home Inspection LLC because I have always enjoyed educating and helping people with issues they may have with their homes. I have a background in woodworking, carpentry, aircraft systems maintenance, flight instruction, and business. After being laid off as an airline pilot for various periods during 2009-2011, my airline ultimately ceased operations. At that point, I realized home inspection training, certification and owning my own home inspection firm was the perfect way to combine all my experiences in a manner that can help clients make informed decisions concerning the largest investment they will ever make.

What is your company's mission?

Madison Home Inspection LLC's mission is to provide all of South Central Wisconsin top quality home inspections delivered with outstanding customer service.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Madison Home Inspection offers:

  • Home Inspections for: Home buyers, home sellers, or anyone interested in a thorough analysis of their home and its associated components
  • Home Preservation Plans: For individuals who want to maintain their home, but seek advice on where to begin and devise a plan on how to keep up their home for ultimate resale value.
  • Radon Testing: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths yearly. The EPA recommends all homes be tested for this odorless gas which exists everywhere. Madison Home Inspection is a NRPP licensed Professional Radon Measurement Specialist and does not recommend an untrained, unlicensed individual attempt to perform radon measurement.
  • Water Testing: For homes with private wells. Tests range from simply bacteria and nitrates to lead to more detailed FHA Loan tests.
  • Carbon Monoxide Testing: Many components of a home burn a combustible gas during normal operation. It is extremely important that these appliances are venting the byproducts of combustion properly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can range from fatigue, chest pain, impaired vision / coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, or flu-like symptoms. Have your home tested if you think you may be experiencing any of these. It can save your life.

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

I can be reached via email sent to: MadisonHomeInspectionLLC@gmail.com.

You can also call or text me at (608) 395-9689. Please understand I may be with a client at the time of your call, but I ask that you leave a message. I assure you I will call you back promptly.

If you care to learn more about Madison Home Inspection LLC, my web address is: www.MadisonHomeInspectionLLC.com

In general, how often do you recommend people inspect their homes?

I believe a homeowner should become acquainted with, and inspect their homes on a quarterly basis as a part of a good home preservation plan. This way, the task is less overwhelming, and when issues present themselves, they can be dealt with much easier. The longer an inspection, and therefore maintenance, is deferred, the more overwhelming it will become, because problems will likely start to stack up. I have free tools available to my clients, which help guide them in both inspecting, and maintaining their own homes and on a manageable timeline.

How can someone judge for themselves whether or not they should get a home inspection?

There are certain times when a home inspection should, without question, be performed. In a real estate transaction, a buyer must perform due diligence. Buyers generally have a 10 day period following their offer acceptance to perform this. Educating themselves as much as possible with the help of a good home inspector during this period can save them literally thousands of dollars and all for the cost of only a $300-$500. Be careful, however, when selecting an inspector, because not all inspectors and inspections are equal. Paying an extra $100 or so for a good inspector is money well spent, in my opinion. Saving that $100 by going with the cheapest inspector can be very costly later on down the road. Remember, the responsibility of due diligence ultimately falls on the buyer. You need a quality inspector on your team.

Secondly, a seller of a home may also consider ordering a home inspection. You may be asking, why, as a seller would I do this? There are many reasons: 1) You can schedule your inspection at a time of your convenience as opposed to when your buyer wants it to happen. 2) Since you can schedule the inspection, you can also attend it and offer the inspector accurate information which helps you realize the possible gains for all the upgrades and maintenance you may have done on your home. 3) You get to choose your own inspector and are not at the mercy of your buyer to choose one. 4) An inspection will help you set a realistic asking price and help you justify that price both now and later during the negotiation stage. 5) Having an inspection already done can help keep the transaction moving along after acceptance rather than waiting for your buyer to research and find an inspector, hire him/her, and schedule their inspection, perform it, get the report and then finally begin negotiating. 6) It helps a seller find any safety issues they may not have known about and allows time for repairs long before any time-critical negotiations need to happen and 7) Increased chance of a buyer waiving their home inspection contingency.

And finally, a homeowner who wishes to stay on top of home maintenance should also consider ordering a home inspection. This will alert them to any potential issues that may need to be addressed. This report can then be referenced as their own personalized "to-do" list or be passed on to a hired handyman or contractor to perform repairs or maintenance. Madison Home inspection offers a Home Preservation Plan where homeowners can elect to have up to 5 inspections over a 5 year period at severely discounted prices. This is a great option for individuals who wish to keep their homes in top condition.

What is a generalized list of reasons as to why people should have their homes inspected?

Having a home inspection can:

  • Help satisfy a buyer's requirement to perform due diligence
  • Give you peace of mind as a buyer
  • Educate a potential homeowner as to the condition of a home and it's systems and helps eliminate surprises (this can sometimes make difference in having a dry basement vs. a wet basement)
  • Literally save a buyer thousands of dollars if issues are found in the home
  • Help a homeowner budget for possible upcoming expenses that may come up
  • Educate a homeowner as to how to maintain their home
  • Potentially qualify a homeowner for extra discounts on other services such as radon testing etc.
  • Potentially qualify a buyer for a home warranty, if applicable

What value does a home receive from an inspection, if any?

Simply obtaining a home inspection will not have any effect on the home's value. It's more about what the owner or potential owner does with the information provided during the inspection and in the report that matters. A well maintained home has more value than the same home poorly maintained.

Is the home inspection process lengthy?

The home inspection process should begin with research by the individual desiring the home inspection. Once they have selected an honest, ethical, thorough inspector, they should schedule the appointment. During busy times of the year, inspection contingency periods may need to be longer than the standard 10 days to give sufficient time to complete the inspection and review the report.

A typical home inspection usually takes Madison Home Inspection LLC between 3 ? 4 hours. I strongly discourage anyone from hiring inspectors who are unwilling to spend that kind of time in the home, as many try to be "in and out" of the home in 2 hours. These are the same inspectors that try to inspect 4 homes a day, which no doubt sacrifices the quality of your inspection and report. These reports are typically hand written and delivered "onsite" which is advertised as a benefit to you, when in reality what it means is that you will be getting no pictures in your report. These reports typically raise more questions than they provide answers to. I typically take 100+ photos on each inspection, many of which make it into the report and are used to show exactly what I am referring to in my descriptions. Adding photos is very time consuming, and adds to the report length, however I find that my clients are extremely happy when they can see a visual explanation of descriptions of any potential issue. Following my inspections, I typically require 3-5 hours additionally to write the report in my office. My reports are delivered electronically within 24 hours of the inspection, unless otherwise arranged prior.

What are some potential negative situations you've seen occur because someone did not get a home inspection when they should have?

There are many negative consequences that people have paid as a result of not having a home inspection, ranging from safety related to purely financial. There have been cases where a home buyer did not hire an inspector because a family member was employed in a construction related field and that person offered to "check the home out." That person may know how to frame a wall, for example, but may have little or no knowledge concerning all other areas of a home such as HVAC or electrical systems. This would not result in a complete inspection, or in other words, lack of due diligence on the part of the buyer. If the furnace had an issue, and this family member didn't catch it, the potential buyer is now unaware of it. Had they been aware of the issue, they could have possibly negotiated with the seller to have the issue corrected by a licensed professional contractor, whereas now the issue will need to be paid for out of their own pocket. This can literally cost a buyer thousands of dollars.

I have had clients who did not order a home inspection during the purchase of their new home, but later hired me. I found that the home's insulation had been improperly installed which led to major heat loss during winter months. These kinds of things you would not expect in a brand new home, but they can and do exist. I also inspected a brand new construction home which had a significant gas leak. Again, something that is completely unexpected, and yet extremely dangerous if not found and corrected.

I have inspected numerous homes that had other serious safety hazards. Things such as exposed "Live" or "Hot" electrical wires sticking out from the wall in a basement where children play. This is not only a safety hazard but a fire hazard as well, and could potentially burn the entire house down.

In conclusion, you should be aware that not all home inspectors are the same. Not all inspections are thorough. I highly discourage you from searching for the one that will give you the lowest price, because you will likely get the shortest inspection and least thorough report from this person as well. I recommend you search for a qualified individual, who is willing to spend up to 4 hours at the home, and provide a detailed report with many pictures depicting the nature of each issue found. If you have questions regarding the home inspection process, they can be directed to Madison Home Inspection LLC. Many questions can be answered by visiting our website at: www.MadisonHomeInspectionllc.com.

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