By Kate Scriven
Even though I love to shop online, I do like to “try before I buy” whenever possible. For some items (water glasses, curtain rods, Scotch tape) purchasing without experiencing the product first-hand works just fine. For others, I really need to see it in person – to feel the towels, try on the shoes, fire up the leaf blower, test drive the car.
However, when you purchase services, it’s usually impossible to “try before you buy.” When faced with these types of decisions, we tend to look for recommendations and advice from friends or trusted reviews.
Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make. Yet you can’t request a night or two in the home before signing the contract, no matter how awesome that might sound. But, you can get pretty close. A home inspection gives buyers several hours to search all the nooks and crannies, peer in the closets, and check out the fridge space in your soon-to-be new home. And, while it’s a great time to measure for your ultimate sectional sofa, it also gives a comprehensive picture of the home’s condition and alerts buyers to any potential problems. This critical process should be led by an honest, straight-forward professional. But who should you hire?
Well, while you might not be able to follow an inspector around to watch how they work before hiring them, I luckily can. Boggs Inspection Services allowed me to tag along with inspector Tom Hitchman, buyer Julia Lovelace-Johnson and agent Kimberly Rucker during a recent home inspection. My conclusion? Boggs’ inspector Tom Hitchman not only knows his stuff, he makes sure you know exactly what he’s seeing, too. Plus, he’s a pretty great guy to spend a few hours with.
The inspection began in the home’s front yard where Tom reviewed the inspection process and addressed any initial questions or concerns from Julia and Kimberly. Tom’s calm, competent demeanor and clear explanations of the inspection process set the tone for the rest of the inspection. Julia was put visibly at ease.
First was the exterior and I opted to follow Tom while Julia and Kimberly headed indoors, excited for another look at the home. As we circled the home, Tom explained, “The main thrust of the inspection is to educate the buyer on the home and any issues, or potential issues, it has.” A home inspection includes the interior, exterior, and mechanical systems. “The nature of a home inspection is visual, not invasive,” Tom notes. This is an important distinction and means no walls will be opened or furniture moved during the process.
Tom checked for dry rot in the siding, inspected windows, checked caulking, viewed gutters and assessed drainage. Concrete was reviewed and external doors and electrical were all tested. “The main things we look for on the exterior are issues with siding,” Tom explained. “In the Northwest, we have lots of issues with decay due to moisture.”
No major concerns were found, yet Tom gave Julia good tips for ongoing maintenance and upkeep. An inspection of the roof is included in each Boggs Inspection Services report and when a home’s roof is unsafe for the inspectors (as was the case in this home due to its steep pitch), a careful visual inspection with binoculars is performed.
Next was the interior. After reviewing the exterior report and answering any of Julia’s questions, Tom explained the detailed inspection packet that comes with any Boggs inspection. “We review the warranties and extras that come standard with our inspections,” he explained. And the extras are many, making a Boggs inspection a high value for your dollar.
As they reviewed the packet, I chatted with Kimberly Rucker, a 24-year veteran realtor with Berkshire-Hathaway Home Services in Lacey. “I work with Boggs Inspection Services a lot and I’ve known Tom for a long time,” she said. “The guys are good with people, have a great rapport with my clients, and really explain things well, especially to first time buyers who are new to the process.”
As the team prepared to begin the room-by room tour, Tom pulled out his laptop and logged the points he and Julia had discussed from the exterior. Boggs inspectors make sure nothing gets missed by using technology to record their findings throughout the process. “We like to document as we go to ensure accuracy and get the best level of detail in our reports,” explained Tom.
We headed to the garage where Tom inspected the electrical panel, removing the entire face and checking each breaker. Julia was included in the process the entire time and Tom’s careful explanations ensured she understood, but wasn’t overwhelmed by technical explanations. Taking out an iPad, Tom reviewed the HVAC system and hot water heater to complete his systems check.
Inside the home, windows and doors were opened and closed. Sinks were tested for function. Drywall cracks were recorded and electrical outlets were checked for function and safety. Despite the detail required, Tom chatted pleasantly with Julia and Kimberly, keeping the inspection personal and fun. We all cheered when hidden storage was found in a window seat and we each tried to get a bathroom door to properly latch (without success).
It was a team effort, but Tom was definitely our captain.
Sticking to the metaphor of “try before you buy,” I feel confident in saying the Boggs Inspection Services “shoe” fit for me. The process was professional, yet also engaging, informative, and even fun (I promise). And, most importantly, it achieved exactly what it promised: a comprehensive home overview from top to bottom ensuring you know exactly what you are getting for your money. And if the shoe fits…well, you know the rest.
To schedule an inspection, call 360-480-9602 or visit the Boggs Inspection Services website.