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You Wanna Get High With Me?

Being a home inspector is great. It's fun, it's interesting, and I get to meet wonderful people. I know exactly what to do during a home inspection. But what should the homebuyer be doing during the home inspection?

In my mind, the primary responsibility of the homebuyer during the home inspection is to observe and to listen. By watching the routine of the inspector, the homebuyer will gain a comfort with the home as well as the inspection process. The inspector has the opportunity to present to and discuss with the homebuyer all the many aspects of each component and system in the home. The goal is to have no issues looming after the inspection.

That being said, active participation in the home inspection is always a good thing. I love participation! How much participation and by whom is an often debated question. Depending on an individual's role in the transaction - buyer, seller, agent, or other interested party - the intentions, interest, and involvement vary widely.

A sure fire test to tell how committed someone is to the participation process is by asking who would like to go onto the roof. Many of my home inspector buddies cringe when I speak of home buyers or agents climbing roofs with me. However, with some good judgment and a few precautions, it turns out just fine.

The fun begins when I ask, "Okay, who would like to get high with me?" If anyone looks too enthused, I get a little nervous thinking that they must have misinterpreted my question. But, after a moment, most all recognize that it is time for the roof inspection. No better way to inspect a roof than to climb up and walk around! Every now and then, a home has a walk out balcony that lets us hop the rail and stride smartly to the peak. But more often than not, it is up the ladder we go.

The truth of it all is that less than 20% of homebuyers will venture up the ladder to stroll their roof. And of that group, about half are wearing inappropriate shoes or clothing for the ladder climb. Relatively small portions of those who choose to climb just do not appear physically able to make the ascent. If it does not look safe to me, they are staying on the ground.

A few times people have objected to being told to remain on the ground. Some have even insisted that this is their inspection, they are paying me, and they will climb if they choose to. They are then are told that it is my ladder and I decide who climbs it. I have also not yet been paid for my services. I simply and calmly explain that if they would like to play the "I'm not paying" card, I can play my trump card, called "I'm not inspecting". This is rare, but does get us all back to our proper places!

Walking on roofs is all well and good, but nothing separates the bold from the meek in the arena of home inspection participation quite like the subject of crawling in crawl spaces!

Florida is a wonderful place to live. Sunshine, beautiful beaches, and a lifestyle that most of the rest of North America can only dream of. It is the quest for that good life that attracts millions of tourists every year as well as tens of thousands of new residents. But some residents of Florida, the ones found in crawl spaces, can bring fear to the heart of the bravest!

Traveling about the country to numerous home inspector events has provided me much in the way of education and perspective on the business of home inspecting. But whenever my peers discover I live and inspect in Florida, the subject always turns to critters and creatures in crawl spaces. With their eyes the size of grapefruits, I can keep them mesmerized with my many tales. Those would be opossum tales, snake tales, and gator tales!

They way these guys are captivated by the idea of an inspector crawling on his belly under a home in Florida makes me feel like Marlin Perkins from the old television show "Wild Kingdom". I can recall being about eight years old listening to Marlin narrate, "Jim will now wrestle the deadly 25 foot anaconda". Then Jim, dressed in khaki shorts, shirt and a pair of lace up boots, would proceed into the jungle marsh to risk life and limb while Marlin kept on filming and narrating.

That Jim would have made one heck of a home inspector! If he wasn't afraid of anacondas, you can bet he would be unafraid of real estate agents!

Wally Conway is President of Florida HomePro Inspections, and has recently written a book entitled "Secrets of the Happy Home Inspector", available at or Wally's expertise and experience has been sought after by HGTV's "House Detective", the Florida Times Union, and many real estate boards and associations. As a speaker, writer, instructor, and host of The Happy Home Inspector radio show every Saturday at 3 PM on WOKV 690 (, Wally blends the right amount of up-to-date information with just the right amount of humor, insight, motivation, and real-world application. Visit for more information!

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