By Admin | July 18, 2008
Sean Raley is a home inspector and owner of a BrickKickers franchise in North Central West Virginia. We recently had a chance to visit with him to get his thoughts on people’s houses.
Where are you from?
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA but grew up in Morgantown, WV
Where did you go to college and what was your academic major?
I have an A.S. degree from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, a B.S. in Applied Science (Mechanical Engineering Technology) from Thomas Edison State College (Trenton, NJ) and an MBA from the University of Findlay, Ohio.
What has been your career path from college to your current position?
Worked in the aviation field for 14 years as an aircraft mechanic, then an aircraft inspector and finally as a manager. I started buying rental properties 10 years ago and, 6 years ago, bought my home inspection franchise. I’ve been inspecting homes ever since.
How many house inspections do you do in a day?
Typically two a day. I’ve performed over 3,000 home inspections.
How many hours a week do you work?
Well, I wish it was a lot less but about 50 hours a week.
What has been your worst moment as a house inspector? Have you ever come face to face with a rat in someone’s basement or garage?
The worst moment came when inspecting a house for a bank that was an estate. The people who owned the home were shot and killed due to a dispute with a neighbor. I went in to advise the bank on clean-up and getting the home in working order. Not a pretty sight.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into the business of being a house inspector?
I started out working with an established home inspector in Pittsburgh, PA. I would start out doing that so that you are in the field and will know that you really want to do it.
Not only must you have knowledge of construction but you must be able to write good reports as well as be very customer service oriented. There is always one person during an inspection that is not happy with you- the seller, the buyer or the agent.
What are the qualifications of being a house inspector in West Virginia?
You must have a minimum of 250 field inspections, then pass the national home inspectors exam and maintain a certain number of training hours a year.
What should people look for when trying to avoid a house with asbestos in it?
Don’t buy a home built before 1978.
Do people need a house inspector when buying a newly constructed home from the builder?
Yes, I once had a brand new home in which the walls were not square, the deck was not properly constructed, the attic trusses were cut to make room for a furnace (structural issue), the jet tub leaked into the kitchen below and all of the outlets were reverse polarity (wired in reverse).
Whether new or old, and whether you use me or someone else, buying a home is a major purchase and you should have someone look it over.
When looking at a new home, look to see if good materials were used. If the materials seem cheap, it is likely that the build is cheap. There really is no short list of what to look for on a new home.
What one house inspection finding should be a deal breaker for home buyers?
Water in the basement is very common in West Virginia and can usually be fixed. A home located on top of a mine that may subject to mine subsidence should be avoided.
Generally, however, most things in a home can be fixed – even a bowed wall. It all depends on price and if the buyer really likes the home.
However, things that can’t easily be fixed are those homes that have had really cheesy additions added to them. Such homes are “cut up”, have a lot of “handy man” repairs and will not hold their value.
Also, avoid sectionals or “trailers”, as these homes also do not hold their value. With real estate, the best way to avoid getting burned is “like/kind”. Homes in a typical neighborhood with similar features will typically hold the strongest value. The old farm house with additions and “handyman” type repairs will not.
Would you recommend sellers absent during during the house inspection?
Yes indeed. The home inspection gives the buyers a second chance to view the home for approximately 2-3 hours. However, if the seller is present, the buyers will be on guard and the home inspector will wonder what the seller is hiding. Also, if the seller is present, the home inspector will ask the seller questions and they will be liable for the answers. If the seller says “I’ll fix that” to the home inspector or says “the basement stays dry” well then…….he’s on the hook.
How much has your business been hurt with the recent housing slump?
My business has not been hurt at all. It does not matter if the price of housing goes up or down. People seem to always need inspections. I actually wouldn’t mind if it would slow down a bit.
Do you plan on staying in this line of work for the rest of your career?
No, I will do this for just a few more years while I’m paying down my rental properties. I don’t want to be 50 years old climbing up on roofs or squeezing into crawlspaces.
What year was the house you live in now built? How much house remediation did you do to it?
My present home was built in 2002, so there is really not much to do. My first house was built in 1965. I put new siding on it, finished the basement and updated the kitchen.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like astronomy as a hobby – probably from my previous interest in aviation. I used to play guitar in a band and I occasionally jam with friends. On the weekends, I own a mobile disc jockey business and I perform at weddings, parties and private events . Currently, I have over 10,000 songs. It’s great fun.
Disclosure: the interviewer has been a client of the BrickKickers, Inc.
Copyright 2008 DailyInterview.com
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