Our Typical Inspection: What to Expect From NHI

Our Typical Inspection: What to Expect From NHI

In the last two+ decades, between Inspection Consulting, INC and Nickelsen Home Inspections, LLC, which grew out of it, we have performed over 20,000 residential and commercial inspections in Oregon and Washington, from Seattle to Salem, from Bend to Wenatchee, and from Newport and Port Angeles: we go where we are asked to go, and are happy to! We remain one of the most tenured inspection firms based out of the NW Oregon and SW Washington region and are proud to be a locally-owned and operated family business. We are NOT a franchise and we are proud of it!

While there is overlap in home inspections, like any trade there are a lot of differences too—individual firms and individual inspectors might do things a little bit differently and bring their own skills and personalities to the property. We would like to explain what our process is so as to ensure that all involved know what to expect moving forward.

What’s a Home Inspection?

It would seem like a needless question, right? Yet our experience proves that the question isn’t a bad one at all, as we regularly encounter clients who don’t quite understand what a home inspection is and what it isn’t. Please take the time to review the Standards of Practice and the Service Agreements in full, along with the information found HERE (click), which details the home inspection process in general.

Our Process In Particular

While some inspection firms do their inspection and review simultaneously with the client, we do NOT do this, and for good reason: it is a distraction, and the last thing you want is a distracted home inspector. Any suggestion that a home inspector can focus on what they are doing while simultaneously talking with clients is spurious. Instead, we break up our inspections into three distinct parts: 1) the inspection itself, 2) the production of the report, 3) the review.

If the client is present during the inspection, which is always welcomed, they will typically spend that time looking around the home on their own. For most people, it is during the inspection that they will have the most amount of time to spend in the property before ever taking the keys and moving into it. The inspector, on the other hand, will be focused on what he is doing: inspecting the property with as much focus and as little distraction as possible. It is in the client’s best interest to give the inspector the space needed to do this.

Simultaneously, the inspector will be going back and forth to the computer putting information in. Production of the report onsite is something we specialize in and takes up about 30-40% of the inspection time.

Upon completion, the inspector will then do a review with the client and their agent, if applicable. Our objective at this point is not to exhaust everything that could be said—that could take hours! Instead, our objective is to ensure that the client has a good working understanding of the layout of the report and the main problems found during the inspection.

The client will then spend more time with the report off site and we make ourselves available for as much additional consultation as desired.

Some Curve Balls and the Like

Clients are regularly unable to attend inspections due to scheduling conflicts, work, being out-of-state of the like. In fact, that’s about 40% of all of our inspections. We have become accustomed to this over the years and in our experience there is no significant lag in understanding if the client is not present—we do not get more questions from clients not present than we do from clients who are. In such a case, the report will be emailed to the client and after they have reviewed the report we will, as always, be fully available to them for any additional questions.

Because of how we compartmentalize the process, many of our clients come towards the end of the inspection just for the review, not wishing to spend 2-3 hours on site. This works well. Again, clients are welcome there the entire time! But many just want to be there for the review at the end.

We do occasionally run into properties that demand more of our time than we were expecting and in such cases we have to shift our priorities around. This might mean we can not do the report onsite and have to finish it or do it completely off site. We try to limit this to no more than 10% of our inspections. If we have to make that decision, we ask for the patience of all involved and appreciate that patience ahead of time.
Instead of doing a review of the report at the end, we will do a verbal review with the client and/or agent if they are present, then finish the report off site, send it out, and make ourselves available subsequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I really want you guys to do the inspection, but my agent is pushing someone else she is used to working with. Can I still hire you?

Don't dismiss the referrals of your agent, of course: you hired them to help you through the process, and the home inspection is part of that process! However, a LOT of clients find us online and want us to do their inspections, or they were referred to us by a family member or friend. In the end, YOU are the one that gets to choose who your inspector is, and we would be honored to work for you!

Q. How long does an inspection take?

Most inspections (inspection, report, and review) take about 2-3 hours. Some properties take more time. Some take less. While we wish to respect the time of all who are involved (clients, buyers, sellers, agents and the like), the property inspection is a serious matter and the inspector should not be pressured about time or distracted during the process. We ask that all involved schedule more than enough time for the process. If you want a more specific idea of how much time to schedule, please contact us and we will give an estimate.

Q. Are you licensed, insured, and bonded?

 Yes, we are fully licensed in the State of Oregon with the Oregon Construction Contractor’s Board with Oregon Certified Home Inspector endorsements. We are fully licensed in the State of Washington as home inspectors with the Department of Licensing (Home Inspector’s Division), and are licensed structural pest inspectors with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. All inspectors are Certified Professional Inspectors with the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and currently all four of our inspectors are Certified Master Inspectors (CMI’s). Each inspector may have other credentials and licenses that you can take a look at by viewing their profiles. Nickelsen Home Inspections, LLC is bonded and carries errors and omissions insurance, as well as general liability insurance, which meets or exceeds the requirements in Oregon and Washington.

Q. I can’t attend. Is that a problem?

Nope, it isn't a problem at all. As noted, a large number of our clients are unable to attend inspections. It isn’t a problem and has never been one. If the client isn’t present, they will receive our comprehensive home inspection report that is easy to understand. After they have reviewed it, we will be available as much as they need for additional questions.

Q.  I know that you said that you compartmentalize the process and that you prefer to not review the findings of the inspection while you are inspecting. However, I would really like to watch what you are doing. May I?

 You may watch what we are doing. Absolutely! This will likely be silent, however, and if it isn’t silent, you are likely distracting the inspector, which is the last thing you want to do. Just being honest (we are paid for our honesty!). We have been doing this for a very long time and have performed over 20,000 inspections. As noted, we have never seen any significant lag in understanding if the client isn’t present at the home at all, let alone watching us do every part of the inspection. It is in your best interest to let the inspector do his job.

Q. What is covered in a home inspection?

A. A detailed answer to this can be found in our Standards of Practice from either Oregon or Washington, along with our Service Agreement. You can also find information elsewhere on our website (CLICK HERE) where we spend some time discussing what a home inspection is and what it isn’t, etc. In general, a home inspection is going to include all of the primary systems and components that are standard on all properties: roofs, siding, structure, foundation, water heater, heating systems, cooling systems, attics, crawl spaces, interiors, electrical panels, major electrical distribution in the property, typical plumbing systems and the like. Things that would not be included (and again, these are not exhaustive lists): sprinkler systems, low voltage items, surround sound systems, cable, internet, swimming pools, central vac systems, solar panels and associated components, well systems, septic systems, security systems, detached items or buildings (unless we are hired to inspect them), minor and cosmetic items, and the like.

Q. What if a property fails an inspection?

 There is no such thing as “pass” or “fail” in this industry. The job of the inspector is to observe and report on the condition of the property and give that information to the client so that they can move forward empowered with the information that we provide to them. In a sense, it is the client who determines whether a property “passes” or “fails” inspection! Remember, a home inspection is not a “code compliance inspection”. And it isn’t an appraisal, which determines the value of the property.

Q. If the home inspection doesn’t yield major problems, was it worthwhile?

 Well, that’s kinda up to you. But the best kind of news that you can possibly get from an inspection is that the property is in fact in good condition!

Q. I don’t see any major problems. The home is new or newer. Do I really need an inspection?

 This is up to you. You’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the property and we find problems on homes of all ages and all “apparent” conditions. The several hundred dollars you are paying for the inspection is worth the price, even if it doesn’t yield any major problems.

Q. Suppose I have questions down the road. Will you be available?

Absolutely! We LOVE questions! Now it is the case that we are often asked questions that aren’t really within our expertise. If so, we will be honest and let you know. But questions per se? Absolutely. Bring it! We are happy to help in any way that we can while remaining in our “lane” so to speak.

Q. What happens if there is a problem down the road?

The home inspection comments on the home as it exists on the day of the inspection. There is a clear definition to the process. We cannot forecast the future or make latent problems manifest while we are there at the home. For a problem to be within our domain, it must be something covered by our Standards of Practice, and it must be clearly visible and manifesting at the time of the inspection. The home inspection is not intended to eliminate the inherent risk involved in purchasing or owning a home. It is there to inform people and to minimize, but not eliminate that risk. We can say that in the 20+ years we have been performing residential and commercial inspections across the Pacific Northwest, we have only had a handful of people with complaints, and even fewer of these are legitimate ones. A significant concern about a error or omission from the inspection is extraordinarily rare, and more often than not the actual problem is a misunderstanding of the scope and limitations of the inspection. 


Additional Resources
  • What is a Home Inspection?
  • Washington Standards of Practice
  • Oregon Standards of Practice
  • Meet the Team

Nickelsen Home Inspections, LLC, originating out of Inspection Consulting, INC, which was established in the 1990's, is one of the most tenured and experienced inspection firms in Washington or Oregon, and is proud to be a family-owned operation. Performing inspections from the coast (Astoria, Newport, Lincoln, Long Beach, and more) to the valley (Portland, Salem, Olympia, Seattle), to the mountains (Hood River), and the high desert (Wenatchee, Bend, Yakima), and up through the Olympics (Bremerton, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and more), NHI is willing to travel far and wide for our clients and have been doing so for over two decades because they have asked! Nickelsen Home Inspections performs residential and commercial property inspections, as well as radon testing, sewer scopes, moisture intrusion inspections, construction draw, termite inspections, infrared thermal imaging, pest and dry rot inspections, NPMA-33 inspections, WDO inspections and more. If you are looking for experienced home inspectors, performing over 1,000 inspections a year, from a family-owned firm, you have come to the right place.

Nickelsen Home Inspections, LLC - 2020