You found your dream home. You're ready to buy. But do you know what's really hiding behind the cracks?
The San Diego Real Estate Inspection Co. does.
Owner/President Philippe Heller and his wife, Tonja, who have lived in Ramona with their daughter for the past 9 and a half years, founded the home inspection company in 2004. Though the company runs on just seven employees, it's one of the largest home inspection companies in San Diego, according to Heller. The company hopes to add two to three more inspectors next year if the real estate market stays busy.
The San Diego Real Estate Inspection Co. uses state of the art testing equipment and customized software to deliver the best home inspections available. Previous home-owners may have tried to use quick-fixes and cheap alternatives to in-home problems. If they have, the San Diego Real Estate Inspection Co. will find out and fix.
Read on to find out what it's like behind (and under... and in the cracks... and in hiding) the home inspection biz.
Patch: Why did you choose to start this business in Ramona?
Phillippe Heller: Starting the business in our home, like many non-retail businesses, just made sense. We don’t really need a store front and we set everything up to be virtual. Even our office assistant can work at home to save gas. We carry out almost all of our business through online scheduling and virtual meetings.
We have employees who live all over the county including Chula Vista, Escondido, Ramona, Vista and Oceanside. Not only do we save money, but it is really the best way to keep a dispersed group on track. We can do everything from accounting, scheduling, and customer service from anywhere via the internet.
Patch: What distinguishes your business from others in the same industry?
Heller: I started the inspection business after becoming burned out at my corporate job. I wanted to go out on my own and do something that utilized my technical experience. Remembering the terrible home inspection I got when I purchased my home, I thought that the home inspection industry could use some improvement.
The “old-school” reports were nothing more than check-box forms that were hastily prepared, then faxed a couple of days later to the agents. And the inspectors showed up with nothing more than a flashlight, screwdriver and a ladder.
We implemented online scheduling, computer generated reports with color pictures and video that are electronically delivered the same day as the inspection. We also pioneered the use of Thermal Infrared Imaging cameras at every inspection. This is military-style technology that allows us to find moisture, over-headed wiring, heating/AC problems that other inspectors may overlook. Our inspectors use a lot of electronic testing equipment to test microwaves, check for gas leaks, and Carbon Monoxide hazards.
We recently developed a popular iPhone App that lets agents book appointments and view reports on their iPhones.
Any good home inspector can get booked quickly. We have a great advantage in that we have 5 home inspectors who are all superb. Our availability cannot be matched. And best of all, we are the only home inspection company that has a guarantee. This is another first in the industry that we are proud to claim as ours.
Patch: Any current challenges you face as a business owner?
Heller: Any business has challenges. Some are out of our control such as economic conditions and interest rates. Other challenges are within our control such as our company’s reputation.
Doing a great job every time is our goal. Real estate in general, and home inspections in particular, are very litigious fields. People are making really big decisions based on our consultation.
Patch: What's the best business advice you've ever been given?
Heller: Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions and be a leader in your field. And treat your employees as well as you possibly can. We keep our business structure very flat and everyone has a say. It allows us to share ideas and draw on each other’s strengths.
I also love the book The E-Myth. It is a great book for anyone who wants to grow their company.
Patch: What's the most common find during your home inspections?
Heller: Plumbing issues are the most common and usually have the greatest consequences. If there is a plumbing failure there is almost always secondary damage that can be costly. This can include a failed water heater or even a simple angle stop valve.
A common defect, especially in Ramona, is a failed pressure regulator. The street pressure in Ramona is very high–as much as 130 psi. If your pressure regulator fails, the high water pressure really stresses everything in your house. Have the water pressure inside your home checked if your house is 15 years old or more.
The ideal range is 60–70 psi.
Looking for someone to inspect your home? Call up The San Diego Real Estate Inspection Co. toll free at 888-494-5150 or directly at 760-203-9682.