Why I Love Being a Home Inspector
May 31, 2024
Why I Love Being a Home Inspector
May 31, 2024

A Grateful Client

Here’s a true story that is at the core of why I love being a home inspector.


Thanks to a referral by Dino (aka GBAR President 2021), I was a guest speaker on a webinar with the fine folks at Harvard’s credit union a few months ago.  It went very well, and I was happy to see it turn into several clients (and counting), the most recent of whom is the center of this story.  

My client Sally and I played email tag for about a month while she navigated getting an offer accepted.  She had me on standby but lost out a few times.  She kept in touch and I tried to encourage her, telling her that I’d seen the scenario play out many times and felt confident that she would end up in the right place for her.

Finally the day came to book an inspection at a place she really liked.  At 700 sq ft, it was a routine garden style condo in an older building of ~90 units.  I figured it would take about an hour at the most (alone it would take about half that).  Well, I was wrong.  Very.

Sally was a first-time buyer.  My favorite!  I absolutely love helping folks with their first ever home purchase.  All clients are great in different ways, but it adds an extra dimension for me.  On top of that, she’s a teacher.  Extra triple deluxe bonus points, as my daughter and niece are both teachers.  So even before we got started I knew it was going to be a compelling experience for me.

We're Early!

I showed up over an hour early on account of being cynically suspicious of unpredictable Boston traffic on the day after Memorial Day.  I’d rather be extra early than 1 minute late.  I didn’t know what Sally looked like, but when I saw someone standing at the other end of block I knew it was her.  Introductions ensued.

When she told me that she had arrived 45 minutes early I knew that she was anxious or nervous, and immediately went into listening mode.  She started telling me about the place, her search process, and more. She had a lot of questions, mentioning things she wanted me to pay attention to.  

Sally was keenly observant the whole time, fully participating in the process, and taking notes.  When I answered her questions she listened very carefully and asked more.  She was all in, intent on getting the most she could out of the process.  I love that.  Sometimes inspectors don’t want questions until the end, sometimes they even want clients to arrive until the last half hour for review.  They want to do their thing and get out.  Not me.  I want every client to be like Sally.  That is the Kensa Way :)

Then the building super appeared, interrupting my process so that he could do his part.  He was a bit gruff and unfriendly at first.  When we got to the boiler room I chatted him up for a while, asking him about various things.  I could have spent an hour in that room alone because there was a lot going on (at Kensa we look at a lot more than just the condo being bought).  The super told me his work history, he told me about the boiler upgrades, he told me about the water heaters.  I didn’t have to ask, he wanted to be heard.  We both had a good laugh over the tiny generator, we both admired the original main electrical panels, the abandoned pipes, and more.  He was clearly in his element and greatly enjoyed talking about it to a captive audience.  He wasn’t gruff anymore, he was quite friendly.  Another example of the Kensa Way.

Q & A

Sally had a thousand questions.  Her agent had hundreds of questions.  The seller’s agent had dozens of questions.  Okay, maybe not that many.  But a lot.  They all had input on my answers, which often prompted more questions, round-robin style.  They each wanted to see up close whatever thing I happened to mention, taking turns to parade through to look, exclaim, ask, exclaim again, offer solutions, and then chat amongst themselves about their own ideas for solutions while I went on to the next thing.  I said “excuse me” about 9,000 times as we navigated the small space. It was fun!

Fun aside, I have a process and try to stick to it and do my thing.  It helps me be thorough and efficient.  Every inspector is like that.  It’s why some don’t want clients around -- because they can’t handle being distracted, or not being in total control of their process, or something like that.  This experience kept me in the right perspective, which is that I’m there for my client, not for my process.  It was a great reminder for me.   So, I answered every question, listened to every concern.  That’s why the inspection took nearly 3 hours.  It was awesome.  But then it got better.  Very.

THE Question

We finally finished and headed outside with Sally and her agent.  Going down the stairs I asked Sally how she felt.  She hesitated a bit and answered in a somewhat distracted way.  Hmm, flags up.  Then we were wrapping it up outside with my usual closing speech, and that’s when she asked me the Big Question: would I buy the place?  Well…

I gave Sally my usual answer about how my license does not allow me to answer that, and even if I was allowed to I would not, because it really doesn’t matter if I would buy it.  I told her that only question that matters is whether SHE felt good about buying it.  

I told her that my role is to give her the objective, clear, thorough, professional information she needs in order to answer the question for herself.  I explained that there could be things that were very important to me but not to her (features, layout, yada).  I pointed out that she and I might have very different tolerance thresholds for taking on repairs.  That's why my answer is irrelevant, and why it would really be a disservice to her (aside from a license violation) to give my opinion.

I also told Sally that I totally empathized with her desire to have some sort of official validation of her choice for her peace of mind, but that it was up to her.  What she said next shook me.

Oh Boy...

She started to tear up as told me that she had really wanted her father at the inspection to guide her, to give her the comfort she sought.  She said he couldn’t be there because he had cancer and lived too far away.  That’s when she started sobbing and said that I gave her the comfort she needed to feel good about her decision, that she was so relieved and glad that I was there to help her with a proper inspection, or words to that effect, and the tears were just streaming down her face.  It was all I could do to not start blubbering myself.

So I hugged her for a while and told her that she would be fine, that this was exactly why I love my job, that it was truly my pleasure, that I was thrilled to know that it was so helpful.  Then I stepped back and asked her if she now knew the answer to her question.

The Answer

Sally wiped her eyes, smiled, and said yes.