With the start of a new year, I am expanding the services offered to my clients. Over the past several months, I have been taking extensive and intensive training to become a home inspector. The most recent phase of this was to spend time in the “House of Horrors” at the headquarters of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) in Boulder, Colorado. Online courses are great, but there’s no substitute for seeing defects in person.
Historically, an architect’s education stops at the water’s edge of trades and their systems: plumbing, HVAC, electrical to be sure, but also fireplaces, roofing, siding, insulation, etc. As generalists, designers know a little about a lot of these, but not a lot about any of them. Also, our knowledge tends to focus on contemporary systems and requirements. I am proud to say that my knowledge is now deeper than most of my peers, and that I will now be able to offer “full circle” analysis of a home, its flaws, and its potential.
In addition, for liability and contractual reasons, we designers leave it to the contractor to determine the “means and methods” of installation. Our purview is to confirm that what the contractor does meets the “design intent”. A good deal of the home inspector training focused on how the various components are or were meant to be installed, from the wiring in the panel box to the integration of the dishwasher with the disposal and drains.
Not only will this newfound wealth impact my primary vocation as a designer, but I can also offer a full-fledged InterNACHI-certifed home inspection to clients who may want to know how their old– or new– house has been holding up. This is especially critical in the northern Virginia/Washington DC/Maryland market, where houses that were built in the 1930s and 40s have undergone several generations of renovations, with all of the accompanying changes of technology. Over that time, there have been significant revisions to windows, wall coverings (think drywall instead of plaster), heating, ventilating, piping, roofing, hanging joists, and just about everything else. When you have an amalgam of these components, it takes an uncommon level of expertise to identify the good from the bad, and from the ugly.
Upon returning from Colorado, the first thing I noticed when I pulled in my driveway were three specific defects in the way the main service drop from Dominion Power is connected to my own house. I will be placing a call to a qualified electrician I know to discuss remediation.