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What to Expect in Your Inspection Report: An Interview with Hugh Alexander of Smoky Mountain Home Inspections

By Hugh Alexander

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

Smoky Mountain Home Inspections is a Home Inspection service provider centrally covering the Western North Carolina counties of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Madison, Mitchell, Transylvania, and Yancey. The company provides the following services: Residential Inspections; Commercial Inspections; Radon Testing & monitoring, Well Water Bacteria tests for eColi & Coliform; and Second Home Supervisory Services (caretaker).

For the Homeowner in their role of buyer or seller, and residential Realtors; we offer our services as a premiere Home Inspection company.

For the Commercial Property Owner or the future Tenant; we offer our Commercial Property Inspection service.

For the Homeowner who has moved here on a seasonal basis, we cater to them in our Second Home Supervisory Services as their caretaker; during the times they are not in the mountains, yet need the property checked on, or items in and around the home to be dealt with.

What areas does a standard home inspection report cover?

(A) Structural Components;
(B) Exteriors;
(C) Roofing;
(D) Plumbing;
(E) Electrical;
(F) Heating;
(G) Air Conditioning;
(H) Insulation and Ventilation;
(I) Interiors; and
(J) Built in Kitchen Appliances

A home Inspection is a visible evaluation on accessible systems and components of a home and is intended to provide the client with a better understanding of the home.

How long is the report and how long should it take to receive it?

The State on NC requires that the inspector must give the client the report within three business days after the inspection was performed. Sometimes it comes down to the wire on a lengthy report being on time. On average, I am out at a home 4 hours doing the inspection and then another 3-4 hours in the office putting the report together. It depends on the size of the home, and how many defects are found in regards to the size of the report. My shortest report has been 32 pages and can be 90 + pages. My average turnaround time is 1.5 days in which the client will have their report from me.

What are two or three of the most common defect you see in homes?

A) Electrical issues from amateur remodel work;
B) In the mountains, I see grading around the home change over the years and water can run toward the home instead of away from it;
C) Attic ventilation- or should I say the lack of it.

What kind of information about defects will an inspection report include?

In The world of a Home Inspector, there is an acronym for this called a DDID.
Describe: What are you seeing?
Determine: How is what you are looking at defective?
Implication: What are the consequences of this defect currently or if left as is?
Direction: What is the next course to take regarding this condition?
This explains what defect I see; how is it impacting the structure or safety of inhabitants; what can we expect from this situation if left unchecked, and how does one deal with correcting the defect, providing guidance.

I encourage the client to spend 20-30 minutes with me at the end of my inspection, so we can debrief on my findings ahead of them receiving my report. This helps them grasp a better understanding of what will be listed in the report.

Considering there are many states that do not require certification, what are a few benefits of hiring a certified and trained home inspector?

Most Homeowners lack the knowledge, skill & emotional detachment needed to inspect a home themselves. By using a licensed Home Inspector, They gain a better understanding of the condition of the home. Inspectors have to list items that "do not function as intended", "adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling" or "warrant further investigation" by a specialist. The State of NC wants to protect the public from being harmed from unqualified persons by having regulations in place; including training requirements by companies approved by the State of NC to teach this profession. This raises the standard in which we adhere to, with our peers as well. The training requirement now is 200 hours minimum including classroom and field work. Each year I am required by the state to attend 16 hours of continued education specific to this trade. That keeps me up to date on building defects that may be in the early stages of becoming apparent and common in construction. If I was sitting on the fence on using a home inspector or not, that alone would make me think again.

The State of NC requires that a licensed home inspector must continuously maintain general liability insurance and minimum net assets, a bond, or errors and omissions insurance also. Inspectors are trained to look for different specific defects in certain time periods that homes were built. They work for the client, and report to the client.

What advice would you give to people who no longer want to buy a home based on the inspection report?

A home is material put together in a specific fashion which got your attention and drew you to it, in the first place. If you really like the home and could see yourself being in it for some time; why would you not want to know everything that is going on with it. The Inspection report should be used as a tool or roadmap to the home, providing important information about the home, as well as the defects. Defects can be fixed. Inspectors are there for the client ( buyer or seller) to provide as complete report as we are capable of on the home, trying to achieve the clearest picture of the home we can for them.

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

The best way for someone interested in a Home Inspection is to contact me the following ways: by my cell phone number: 828-712-6829 and by email via my website: With initial contact I like to guide my client through the process and get a clear picture of what they would like from me, as well as share what they can expect from me, along our journey!

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