In the Spotlight: Home Inspection
Leslie Artigas, Supply Chain Manager for North American Networks, shares her expertise on recent home inspection issues and their impact on clients and relocating employees in the United States. She has nearly 30 years’ experience in the mobility industry and manages BGRS’s supplier partner relationship for home inspections.
Are there any new trends in home inspections that have recently come to the forefront?
Leslie: Absolutely, there are several challenges that have come up for home owners in the last couple of years. The first is crumbling foundations which are occurring in certain homes in Northeast Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts. So far more than 500 homeowners have filed complaints regarding their foundations which show signs of cracking, crumbling, gapping and/or flaking. This issue can mount into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for homeowners.
An estimated 1700 homes where this issue still hasn’t come to light may be affected. It can take 10+ years, after the foundation has initially been poured, to show any signs of trouble. Any signs of initial problems must be flagged on the inspection reports. After BGRS identifies a home that could, based on a variety of factors, be at risk for this type of problem, we notify our client company, note it on the home inspection report, and then recommend an evaluation by a structural engineer. Unfortunately, there are still technical limits to how conclusive current testing can be. We work with our clients to assess the best possible strategy so they can manage any risk appropriately.
Are there other notable home inspection issues that you’ve come across recently?
Leslie: Yes, actually another issue has been with Manufactured Stone Veneer (MSV), also known as Adhered Stone Veneer. MSV are pieces of manufactured stone that are adhered to wood, stucco, or other interior or exterior surfaces. If not adhered or installed correctly, water can leak behind the veneer and cause issues. MSV is a great product and makes homes look beautiful, but if adhered incorrectly can result in very expensive repair work. While this product has been around for many years, it wasn’t until 2014 that regulations around installation were put into place. If the Home Inspector sees any issues, like cracking, crumbling, or deterioration, it is reported on the home inspection report. BGRS recommends that all homes with MSV/Adhered Stone Veneer be further evaluated and repairs should be made immediately.
You’ve been in the industry for many years. How has the impact of home inspections on the home sale process changed over the last 5-7 years?
Leslie: For homeowners and clients today home inspection is more complicated than in the past. Building as a whole has become more complicated; there are more and different products available for building homes. Each manufacturer of those products has their own installation guidelines. Government agencies also create other guidelines to protect the consumer. These guidelines in addition to the builder and the manufacturer’s guidelines need to be followed and adhered.
The increased complexity also ties back to technology. Today, home inspectors all have their own equipment; they carry moisture meters and infrared cameras for example. All of this technology definitely gives us a more in depth view of inspection issues and makes for increasingly complex decisions that need to be made by clients and relocating employees.
How does BGRS help client companies navigate this complex world?
Leslie: Here’s where our inspection supplier partner comes into play. Clients are usually hesitant when initially faced with complex findings on an inspection report. This is typically not their forte and they often don’t have the expertise to make effective decisions. The employee and their families don’t usually know the cost implications involved or the potential effects of the issues. That’s one of the reasons we have an onsite account manager from our inspection supplier partner.
Currently, our technical manager has nearly 20 years’ experience in this field. He will get on the phone with our clients and account teams and explain what these issues involve, exactly what they are, how they happen, and the potential cost. Also, he explains scenarios and what can happen if the client or employee does not address the repairs. He also consults with the clients to create a best case scenario, given all the factors.
How else is having this onsite model with the inspection supplier beneficial?
Leslie: Our consultants need the same technical education as our clients do and often even in more detail. They are the ones that have to explain the findings and outcomes to the employee to ensure they have the information they need to make informed decisions and feel supported by the process. Our onsite partner checks in with consultants every day, making sure if they have an inspection report and are unclear about something they get the education they need. He helps them understand what the issue is and what the employee is ultimately facing. In short, this role functions as our technical resource and expert for all parties involved in the relocation process.
How does BGRS help our clients proactively address home inspection issues and keep up with changes?
Leslie: First, we consult with our clients actively about new and evolving issues in the inspection world. We provide up to date information and communications about issues and consult with them on potential implications to their program. Second, we proactively look at our clients’ policies regarding inspections. With every new client that begins work with BGRS in conjunction with our inspection supplier partner, we create a Client Inspection Abstract. This document has over 100 inspection categories.
We work with the BGRS Account Director to consult with the client contact. Together, they determine how the client would like to handle those particular inspection items if they are flagged on a report. For existing clients, we review the inspection abstract with them during the client annual review in conjunction with reviewing their costs and inventory program. It’s a great, efficient tool to help clients manage costs as well as institute fair and consistent program practices for their mobile employees.