My Friend in Construction
It seems that everyone knows someone who “works in construction”, and from that relationship comes the common desire by some buyers to save the professional inspection fee by having the friend or family member perform the inspection.
At first blush, this seems like a perfect solution. The friend or family member is a known and trusted person. There is no doubt in the mind of the buyer that the loyalty and intentions of this person are above reproach. And then of course, there is the issue of saving the inspection fee.
These attributes of the friend are important. Ideally, all but the expense issue would be traits found in any professional home inspector. The difficulty arises in three principal areas; objectivity, creditability, and inspection specific knowledge.
Let’s look first at the issue of inspection specific knowledge. While it may be that the friend is without peer in his particular area of construction, it is rare that he is able to view the home in it’s entirely – that is, as an interaction of dozens of complex and interrelated systems. The most knowledgeable of heating and air-conditioning contractors may know near to nothing about roofing.
Even more common, however, than the lack of a broad base of knowledge, is the lack of any knowledge that is useful during a home inspection.
On more than one occasion when the “friend in construction” has been asked specifically about construction experience or knowledge, it turns out that this actual experience was something other than optimal. This “experience” usually amounts to something along the lines of loading trucks at the hardware store to earn beer money during spring break back in 74′! Even with the best of intentions, this is hardly the knowledge needed to guide a friend or family member through what is most likely the largest financial decision of their life.
The Objectivity of My Desire
By the very nature of friends and family members, they are not objective. They have great compassion for the buyer and likewise great fear that some harm, be that physical or financial, may come to that buyer. Making matters all the worse is the fear in the back of the head of the “friend in construction” that their experience is not truly enough to render the opinions being offered.