This week we sat down with Nicole from Home Gnome. Here's what she had to say!
How and why did you become a home inspector?
I realized during my previous career in architecture that I really didn't enjoy sitting at a desk for most of my workdays. I needed a career that was more active while still feeding my passion for houses. A friend of mine told me that her husband was going to inspect houses on weekends with his dad for some extra money and I immediately knew that I had discovered my next career. For me, inspecting homes is the perfect combination of being physically active, meeting & interacting with new people and writing. I see each new inspection as an adventure and I look forward to finding something different in every one I do. I especially enjoy inspecting forgotten "icky" places like crawlspaces and attics- places where nobody usually ventures unless there's a huge problem. I also really enjoy building relationships with agents and clients. I love using my knowledge of building science and the history of construction & materials as well as my background with building codes and architecture to inform clients about their home and how it works.
What is the hardest thing to explain to a client?
It is sometimes difficult to describe issues I've found without scaring the client. Sometimes a client can be very sensitive and I try to adjust accordingly how I say things so that they don't panic. It's also difficult using a completely different set of vocabulary with a client who might have little or no knowledge of the terms. I also use photos to illustrate what I'm talking about because a photo is an easy way to point something out without using any unfamiliar words. It's tricky, for sure!
What do you wish clients knew before they came to see you?
No house is perfect. Whether it's a large issue or a small issue, I always find something- even in newly constructed homes!
What do you tell clients to worry about with mold and mildew in houses?
I tell clients that the greatest enemy (next to earthquakes) in this area is moisture. Maintaining the (exterior) envelope of your home (roof, siding, windows, foundation, soil drainage away from the home) is critically important. Similarly, on the interior of a home, it is important to have functioning, exterior-routed fans in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms that remove moist air. A day of normal family activities (such as cooking, laundry, bathing, respiration, etc.) can introduce about 17 gallons of moisture into your home's air, so it's important to remove as much of it as possible. Moisture intrusion or lack of proper ventilation can lead to mold, mildew, rot and can also attract wood destroying insects, causing damage to the home.
What would you like clients to know about radon?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking... and smoking increases your chances greatly. It is also important to re-test for radon after you've done weatherization or any remodeling to your home as these things can modify the indoor radon concentration that you and your family breathe. Radon cannot be smelled, tasted or seen!