Episode 12 – Advice & Tips from Glenford Blanc with Pro-Spex
This is Listen Up Home Buyers, the only podcast offering Home Buying advice and tips from true buyer agents and now here’s your host, Victoria Ray Henderson.
Victoria Ray Henderson 00:10
Glenford Blanc is the President and CEO of Pro-Spex a home and commercial inspection company and Glen has a BA in architecture. He works in the Greater Washington DC and Baltimore area. I am so excited to have Glen on Listen Up Home Buyers. Thank you so much for joining me, Glen.
Glenford Blanc 00:27
You’re welcome. Thanks for inviting us.
Victoria Ray Henderson 00:29
Absolutely. I’ve tried to remember the first time that we met, and it’s when you and I were at a home in Laurel, and it had a very steep roof and my client had asked to use you for the home inspection and you came out with a drone to do that home inspection and that just blew my mind. How long have you been in the inspection business? And how long have you been using drones as part of the roof inspection?
Glenford Blanc 00:57
Well, we formed the company in 2003. My wife and I— So that’s 17 years. Prior to that, it was– In my architectural business, I did inspections as part of that, but not as an official home inspector. But the company is officially 17 years old.
Victoria Ray Henderson 01:17
OK and tell me about the certification that goes the background of what you need to do in order to be as a licensed home inspector.
Glenford Blanc 01:28
Well, what the state requires is, to be honest, fairly limited. Once you pass a local classroom approved course, which takes a minimum of 72 hours, you then take the national exam, you pass the national exam and you apply for your license, you show proof of insurance and your licenses in the mail. It’s a pretty bare bones process. Unfortunately, there are no prerequisites. So you don’t have to come from any special background. Just be able to pass the course and pass the test. Yeah.
Victoria Ray Henderson 02:10
This is why I find so many differences between the home inspectors that I end up working with and it’s also why to be really honest with you why you’re the first one that I always try to schedule and call because as you know, we are Exclusive Buyer Agents, we only work for home buyers and we really feel it’s important for them to have all the information that they need to have because they’re making the biggest financial decision of their life. You know, we could talk this whole show just about the things I’ve learned from watching you inspect the deck and I know that you’ve written a book about a deck, but to most people who are first time homebuyers, and sometimes even second time homebuyers. They’re not really– I guess the phrase is:
“They don’t know what they don’t know”.
So can you walk me through the process when you first get with someone– And especially those first time homebuyers, what do you do?
Glenford Blanc 03:03
Well, I think it’s very important to set the proper expectations. I could go on and on and on, talking about the Home Inspection industry and what’s different about us is, we don’t just go out there looking for problems. People tend to think that’s what we do and it’s understandable why they think that way. But as a company, that’s not what we do.
So we start every inspection with a short conversation so that the customer understands what we’re about and what we try to do is say, “Look, we’re trying to help you understand what you’re buying, which is different from we’re trying to find all the problems in this house”. It’s important to us as a company that you understand the roof on this house is not leaking but you have to keep in mind, it’s old, its aging, it may have 2 or 3 more years life left in it and so, as a buyer, you have to start thinking, OK, I need to be budgeting for a new roof in the next couple of years and to us, that’s the kind of information we try to bring to the table as we assess the condition of a home: the good parts, the bad parts and everything in between.
So, for us a home inspection is an educational exercise so you understand what you’re buying. Because at the end of the day, the bottom line is everything we find can be fixed. Everything. The question is, how much is it going to cost? And who’s going to fix it? And if we prepare detailed report that’s clear, then the customer and the agent can sit down together and come up with a plan as to how they’re going to handle what we have uncovered in the context of the transaction? That’s really what we’re trying to do
Victoria Ray Henderson 05:18
What comes up quite a bit when I’m working with my buyers, and I try to do the same thing but from a limited perspective, I’m not a home inspector, but I try to prepare them for what to expect before we have that home inspection and one of the things even today, I was out with a buyer who kept saying, This doesn’t look like it’s up to code. This home was built in 2003. It wasn’t up to code the next month, it wasn’t up to code 6 months late. I mean, so can you explain what I’m talking about when it’s not a code inspection it’s a home inspection?
Glenford Blanc 05:50
- Well, first of all, let’s talk about Maryland, as an example, in order for anyone to be able to cite the code in the context of an inspection, they have to be licensed by the state to do so, which gives them the permission to do that. That’s number one and your real estate home inspections, and your real estate home inspector, are not licensed to do Code Compliance Inspections and that is a different licensing, different certification and so the set so that’s, that’s number one.
- Number two, the code changes every three years, roughly and the code is broken down into several sections, you’ve got plumbing, electrical, HV, AC, structural, they’re all pieces, which has come together to put this house together. So the code only applies at the time that the house is built. After that, the code no longer applies. So if you modify the house, then you modify the house to meet the current standards-
Victoria Ray Henderson 07:05
-of that exact time when you–
Glenford Blanc 07:07
– At the time when you’re doing your modification. I mean, we hear this and we hear it a lot, and we understand the question, we understand why the concern is there but it’s all about context; the context here, this is an older home, and therefore, what was the code when the house was built, becomes the question and so as home inspectors, it’s impossible for us to know the codes at the time the house was built because it changes so frequently and because we cover the entire state houses that are 100 years old, to 100 months old, a day old, we even the new construction inspections. So we buy now, because we understand the code, we can look and say, “You know what, this may not be up to code today but at the time that it was built, that was the code”.
Victoria Ray Henderson 08:09
So give me 1 or 2 examples of what you’re talking about. Somebody who’s listening can understand.
Glenford Blanc 08:15
Sure, the easiest one is, let’s say GFI-
Victoria Ray Henderson 08:18
That’s what I would advise.
Glenford Blanc 08:19
-It’s a very common one and I see this all the time. The GFI wasn’t introduced until the 70s.
Victoria Ray Henderson 08:26
And tell what a GFI’s is?
Glenford Blanc 08:28
It’s an out special outlet, which gives you It’s a special safety device built in, so that if you’re in close proximity to water, your hands are wet, and you touch something electrical and try to plug it in this outlet. Then that outlet will trip-
Victoria Ray Henderson 08:42
-And it has those little buttons on it-
Glenford Blanc 08:43
-Those little buttons on it. Most people will recognize them. You see them in bathrooms a lot but what people don’t understand is it was not introduced to bathrooms, kitchens, outdoors, garages, and unfinished basements. At the same time, it was a progression. When it first came out, it was bathrooms before kitchens, kitchens came later, then garages were added and then eventually now we want GFI’s it’s in so many different places where houses built in the 1950s GFI’s didn’t exist in the 1950s, they didn’t come about until the 1970s. So if the house was never updated, then that 1950s house will not have GFCI in it. Now, someone purchased the 1950s house, did a renovation on a flip or as we call them, and you update the kitchen, then you have to– and not only update the kitchen by changing the cabinets, No, if you modify the electrical system in any way, you then at that point have to bring it up to code
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:51
And that’s part of what we do on our side where we will see a remodeled kitchen, bathroom, whatever and we actually will see if they pulled permits do it. We once saw a raised roof in a home and we went up to try to see well, while they raise the roof, and my husband Marshall has background in construction, he says, “You know, I don’t think they have enough support here” and it turned out they had raised the roof and never pulled a permit.
So that was a house our buyers didn’t get. You touched on something and I hope you have so much fun doing this, that you come back again, because there’s a whole bunch of stuff, I want to ask you but you talked about new construction, remind me if I forget, I want to hit on that for a second but back to code, one of the things again, that comes up with us, we have sometimes people will come by and say, Hey, our porch wasn’t up to code and somebody came by and told us that it all had to be redone, our home inspector didn’t tell us about the railings on the porch, or whatever it is because there are people who will try to basically take your money and use that code that language absolutely take advantage.
Glenford Blanc 11:02
Well, the first question I ask is, when was the work done? What code was, in effect, the date and time that they applied for the permit? Until you can answer those two questions, you don’t know which code to apply? I’ve heard it from real estate agents, and said, “Well, you know, it’s up to code at the time that it was built”. I’m like, “Ok, when was it built?”, “Well, I’m not sure”. Well, how do you know it’s up to code then- [crosstalk 11:39]
Victoria Ray Henderson 11:38
–We should be talking about the code anyway, that is not our expertise.
Glenford Blanc 11:42
Exactly. That is not to say, if we suspect something may be a code issue, that we will not say anything. I want people to get the wrong impression. The idea is, we have enough knowledge to say, you know what, there’s something suspicious here and so if I see something that I know, it looks like it was done within the last 10 years. Well, within the last 10 years, the code was “X”, I’m going to ask, when was this that I will put that question in the report, you need to look into this because from the evidence that we have, there may be an issue and that’s how we tend to approach these things but you can’t just say the code, is this the code is that, unless you know exactly when the work was done and nobody knows half the time. But we know enough to ask the right questions.
Victoria Ray Henderson 12:41
And I know enough less than you to look at things and be a little suspicious. But then I always say, we’ve got to have a professional inspect this. But you know, this looks weird to me, because I’ve been in hundreds, maybe 1000s of homes, but–
Glenford Blanc 12:56
It was like an inspection I did today, I did this morning. The house was built in the 1940s, and the electrical service to the house hasn’t been touched, it is the original 100 amp service but inside the home, new kitchen, new bathroom, new outlets, adults been replaced and no way in the house is there an inspection sticker. The water heater has been replaced. I mean, where are the inspection stickers for all of this? So clearly, something has happened. So, I wrote it up in the report, I think you need to re investigate this and some of the work wasn’t up to code. Anyway. You can tell it was the work was done within the last 12 months but I don’t need to say the work is not up to code.
Victoria Ray Henderson 13:48
I say hey, look, this is wrong. We need to see the permits for this and when you have 100 amps go into a house with all that stuff redone. That’s going to trip.
Glenford Blanc 14:00
That’s a whole other question, which is what I said to the customer. You know, this house was not built for the load, they have an air conditioner, which was not there when the house was built. They got a brand new furnace, they’ve added a microwave; house was not built with a microwave, 1940s! No. So there’s more demand on the electrical system, but they haven’t upgraded the electrical system doesn’t add up. I think it’s the biggest challenge we have is, far too many customers call us at the very last minute. You know, I like to tell folks, bring your inspector on board early, get to know them, get samples of their. I mean there’s so much we could talk about and get to better understand the industry so you can set the right expectations and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Try your best to be at the inspection and ask questions. No question is too silly. No question is too little. Ask as many questions as you can, because it’s important that you find out what am I about to buy here, so that you can go to the negotiating table with you with the assistance of your agent, with your eyes and ears wide open. Because you cannot negotiate. If you don’t know what you’re talking about and to me, that is the central purpose of the home inspection is to arm you and your agent with sound information so that you can make an informed decision as to what you want to do, not what the inspector wants to do, or your agent want, it’s what you want to do with this information. Because like I said earlier, everything we find can be fixed.
Now, the question is how much you willing to give and take? And that’s some discussion you have with your agent. Come up with a game plan. So a good report should help you on this better understand the house and be able to negotiate from there. Some things you’ll find, hey, I can do it myself. No big deal. Other things, you want to talk about with the other party. That’s what we try to do.
Victoria Ray Henderson 16:08
Yes, I think it’s also important for any homeowner or rather homebuyer to understand, wherever you are in the country listening to this that the home inspector works for you. So it’s your choice who you hire, and you ask questions like Glenford said, one of the things I always make sure that I ask is, how do you turn where the main water valve to this house? How do you shut off the hose bibs [phonetic 16:31], try to tag it all so people understand where those things are when they need them? Because you always need them in an emergency.
Glenford Blanc 16:38
Oh, absolutely and this is why we with our philosophy when it comes to home inspections, is people often ask us about what are you looking for it? We tell them, Look, I’m not looking for anything. We look at everything. It’s a different mindset. We trained our inspectors, we have our own internal training program, which takes weeks far exceeds what the state requirements and it’s very in depth and it’s very detailed and it’s for a reason, because the people that hire us are looking for advice. They’re looking for information on like you said, in order to make an informed decision on this big purchase they’re about to make and so what we deliver should help them along that path. If your inspection and your inspection report cannot help you make an informed decision. Then in my mind, you really didn’t get a whole lot. So many reports are just too technical. It’s way over the head of the customer. Why would you pay for something you don’t understand?
Victoria Ray Henderson 17:40
Yes, I’ve seen reports like that.
Glenford Blanc 17:44
You need to understand it.
Victoria Ray Henderson 17:45
Yes, it’s going to be your house.
Glenford Blanc 17:47
Yes, it’s going to be your decision.
Victoria Ray Henderson 17:48
That’s right. Well, Glenford Blanc, the President and CEO of Pro-Spex, a home and commercial inspection company in the Greater Washington DC and Baltimore area. Glen, thank you so much for joining me. It’s really been a pleasure.
Glenford Blanc 18:01
You’ve been listening to Listen Up Home Buyers. The only podcast offering Home Buying advice and tips from true buyer agents.