Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a Licensed Professional Engineer?

Simple, There are no minimum standards for home inspectors in Missouri. Anyone regardless of education or experience can offer home inspection services. Engineers by law are licensed in Missouri and at a minimum, have completed an accredited, 4-year engineering program, have worked for 4 years under the direction of other engineers, have passed a detailed 2-day exam and must take 15 hours of continuous education courses each year. They are bound by a code of ethics and state law to practice only in areas where they are qualified. Until the home inspection business becomes regulated in Missouri and sufficient time has passed to sort the good from the bad your choice becomes clear...hire a Licensed Professional Engineer. By choosing RLM & Associates, LLC you will have the satisfaction of knowing a combination of 30 years of education and experience will be working for you. By law only Licensed Professional Engineers can document, analyze and provide solutions to serious problems all other non-professional inspection companies can only document problems and your left to hire a Licensed Professional Engineer to get the answers you need.

What will it cost?

Our fees vary depending upon the size, age, complexity, and location of the home. You will find our fees are competitive with other non-professional inspection companies. We provide the best value for your dollar when considering over 30 years of engineering and inspection experience. At RLM & Associates, LLC, we know time is a limited resource that's why we do everything possible to address your needs as soon as possible. Do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain.

Why are other inspectors cheaper?

We have been in the home inspection business since 1994 and we know what the business costs are associated with this type of work. So how can some inspectors advertise lower prices? Our philosophy is if we spend the time and money to be the best inspection company possible then the smart home buyer that takes the time to compare our services and quality reports will choose us.

Why are you the only inspector with Professional Liability Insurance?

Typically professional liability insurance is called Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance. The primary reason for professional liability coverage is that a typical general liability insurance policy will only respond to a bodily injury, property damage or personal injury claim. All professionals including engineers, doctors, lawyers, real estate brokers, and appraisers also carry professional liability insurance. The cost of this insurance is based upon your education, experience and track record of providing claim free service. Many non-professional home inspectors are not qualified to get this insurance or it's unaffordable due to their lack of experience or poor track record of complaints and claims. You will often see some inspectors downplay the need to have this type of insurance to mask the fact they can't get it.

Professional Engineer's training versus a Home Inspector or Code Inspector.

Example #1: A home inspector and code inspector are two different types of inspectors. Code inspectors are typically used when a house is being built or when major renovations are being performed. Code inspectors are trained to ensure that a new or remodeled house meets the minimum construction standards set by code. A code inspector can tell you the circuit breaker to the AC unit is the correct size, but so can a home inspector. A home inspector can tell you the temperature differential in the AC evaporator coil (A-Coil) is too low indicating the refrigerant is probably low, which is beyond the training for a code inspector. Besides knowing the breaker capacity and evaporator coil temperature requirements a professional engineer also knows how the size of the AC unit affects air quality, efficiency of the AC unit and comfort requirements. The professional engineer also has the knowledge to perform the heat load calculations and duct sizing requirements in order to design a replacement system if needed.

Example #2: A code inspector may see a foundation crack and report it as insignificant because they have no training in the various types for foundation cracks. Basic home inspector training gives the average home inspector the ability to identify the difference between a shrinkage crack and a settlement crack which is not even addressed in code inspection training. Unfortunately home inspection schools are limited to identification of simple cases only, causes and corrective action are beyond their ability and by law beyond their legal authority. Professional engineers have the training to identify all the foundation crack types, give legal opinions to the true causes, and can legally design methods to repair the various foundation cracks.

What about a Home Warranty?

Simply most are not worth the paper their written on! Home warranty is a complex insurance product, unlike home insurance; it does not provide blanket coverage for all appliances. Pre-existing conditions and problems resulting from lack of maintenance of appliance are generally not covered by home warranty companies. Home warranty sellers may not state these factors clearly, and has created dissatisfaction among customers. Many non-professional inspection companies hope home warranties will cover their mistakes.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation observed on the day of the inspection. It IS NOT a guarantee, there are many items hidden the inspector cannot see and components in serviceable condition on the day of the inspection can break down the very next day.

Do you offer a Guarantee?

Yes, for the home inspection service. We are so confident if you are not satisfied in the quality of our home inspection service, well give your money back. Our 100% Money Back Guarantee requires the client to be personally present during the entire inspection and must notify the inspector prior to receiving the report. This guarantee is for due diligence inspections for, residential, single family home inspections only. Ancillary inspections, residential multi-family properties and engineering services are excluded. Keep in mind that the purpose of the inspection is to find major problems that would keep you from purchasing the house, not to find every small defect that needs maintenance. If you want a home warranty they are available through other sources, but they often cover only very limited items.

What does a home inspection include?

The standard home inspector's report will cover the condition of the home's heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) publishes a Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics that outlines what you should expect to be covered in your home inspection report.

Why do I need a home inspection?

Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you'll want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before you buy it. A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep it in good shape. . Of course, an inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a building, as well as the type of maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and be able to make your decision confidently. If you already are a homeowner, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and suggest preventive measures that might help you avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, a home inspection can give you the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.

Why can't I do it myself?

Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance and home safety. He or she knows how the home's systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail. Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.

Can a house fail a home inspection?

No, a professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value. It is not a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement.

When do I call a home inspector?

Typically, a home inspector is contacted immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. Before you sign, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final purchase obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms and conditions to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.

Do I have to be there?

While it's not required that you be present for the inspection, it is highly recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it.

What if the report reveals problems?

No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn't mean you should or shouldn't buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. If your budget is tight, or if you don't want to become involved in future repair work, this information will be important to you. If major problems are found, a seller may agree to make repairs.

What is a New Home Construction Inspection?

A new home construction inspection (or phase inspections) is an independent, third party inspection to ensure that the work completed is in compliance with plans, specifications, and the construction schedule. Once a home is built, many conditions that could have been observed during construction are now covered and are no longer visible for inspection. Often a poorly installed/constructed condition that could have been visually reviewed during a construction progress inspection becomes covered or concealed later in the building process cause a potential financial burden for the property owner for future corrective action. For these reasons, it is important that a home be inspected during construction by the buyer's representative whenever possible so that any reportable defects can be corrected before completion and transfer of title.

It's brand new. What could be Wrong?

It is not good business to forego a home inspection on a newly constructed house, regardless of how conscientious and reputable your home builder. No home, regardless of how well it is constructed, is totally free of defects. The construction of a house involves thousands of details, performed at the hands of scores of individuals. No general contractor can possibly oversee every one of these elements, and the very nature of human fallibility dictates that some mistakes and oversights will occur, even when the most talented and best-intentioned tradespeople are involved. It is also an unfortunate aspect of modern times that some builders/developers do not stand behind their workmanship and may not return to fix or replace defective components installed after the sale is complete

The city code inspector already approved it!

Often the builder/developer will state the home has been built to "code" and that it was inspected at different stages and signed off by the local jurisdiction. However, building codes are frequently "minimum in nature" - that is, the primary intent of building regulations (codes) is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings. The builder is responsible to meet minimal standards at best - you may want higher standards applied to your dream house. Also, it is an unfortunate fact of the hectic pace of construction, that local building department inspectors are often overbooked with inspections, which results in their spending a minimal amount of time at the construction job site and important details may be overlooked. Finally, jurisdictional inspectors are not concerned with workmanship as long as all the systems and components in a new home meet minimum code requirements.

What is a New Construction Phase Inspection?

A professional phase inspection is a great value to a new construction home buyer because the home inspector will spend whatever time it takes to evaluate every readily accessible parts of the home they can safely reach and then prepare an inspection report containing their findings. This, in turn, will provide a "fix-it" list that can be brought to the attention of the builder/developer. Additionally the home buyer has peace of mind in knowing they took the extra step in protecting their investment by helping ensure they are made aware of any overlooked defects.

What if my builder says I don't need a home inspection?

It is important to let your builder know up front that you intend to have the work inspected by an independent third party construction expert. This will help set a tone with the builder and let them know that you expect things to be done properly. Ideally, you will want to start communication with your inspector as soon as you sign a contract with your builder. It is recommended that have a professional inspection of the foundation prior to the pour. A follow up inspection should be conducted after the foundation has set up.

Do I have to repair everything wrong with the house?

A listing inspection report is not intended to be a "do" or repair list for the home. Sellers are not obligated to repair conditions noted in the report, nor are they required to produce a flawless house. With a pre-listing home inspection, potential repair items already known by both parties are subject to any negotiations. A home seller can make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation; to foster good will or to facilitate the sale. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract.

How do I prepare for the inspection?

It's the seller's responsibility to get the house ready for the inspection. The seller should: Have all utilities turned on (water, electric and gas). Have all gas appliances ready to run with pilot lights turned on. Clear access to areas like attics, crawl spaces, electric panels and furnaces. Unlock areas such as storage closets, fence gates, electric panels and crawl space hatches. Remove pets from the property, or secure them so they are not free to roam. To help you get the most benefit from the inspection you should leave the kids at home - you won't be able to pay attention to them and the inspection at the same time. For the same reason, if you have family members or friends who would like to see the house you should arrange that for another time.

When will the report be ready?

Normally the next business day after the inspection by e-mail, but sometimes it takes a few extra days. Our reports are the best in the business and each is customized for your house, which takes a little more time than the simple checklist our competitors use. When ordering, please let me know of your deadline.