IHB News 10-16-2010

I have a guest post from a local building inspector. His comments may surprise you.

Irvine Home Address … 6 LAKEPINES Irvine, CA 92620

Resale Home Price …… $284,900

I can be your liar

I can be your bearer of bad news

Sick and uninspired by the diamonds in your fire

Burning like a flame inside of you

Is this just desire or the truth

So shame on me for the ruse

Shame on me for the blues

Foo Fighters — Tired of You

Guest Post

I met Roger Banowetz in late 2009. I had an extended conversation with him about home inspections, and I was very impressed with his knowledge. I told him then if he wanted to write about his knowledge and experience with houses, it would be great educational material for the blog. Friday evening, I received an email from him with the post below. Hopefully, he will participate in the comments and write more posts.

He is a very thorough inspector, and I recommend his services.


Roger Banowetz, Retired City Building Inspector ICBO Certified, cell (714) 401-5980


Hello my name is Roger Banowetz Retired City Building Inspector. Based on what I’ve read on this blog, and from the comments/concerns I’ve received from many of my clients, I would like to correct a lot of areas of misconceptions.

Some people mistakenly think that the new homes are not as good as the “good old days” when houses were much better built; well this is a big misconception. The homes in California are in a seismic zone #4, which is the most mobile dirt in the USA; as homes in the colder states are built to be warmer, here in our state we build to with stand the many earthquakes we have every week (some of which we don’t even feel but our homes do). So as a result, the homes built today are better built than in any time in our history; our design, materials and codes are just better, for example Foundations (the footprint of your home), the slab that supports your home and provides the floor on the first floor, the concrete we use now are now designed and engineered with more syntheses materials to increase strength and elasticity to the concrete, connections imbedded in the foundation to the framed walls.

Walls; framing members are built with “#2 grade or better” lumber combine that with the OSB “orient strand board” which is that wafer board that you see on all new building it is used for “sheer wall” which is how we stabilize the building the more OSB we use the stronger the building it is, stack that up with the same method for the roof. Every time we install a window or a door we install metal straps and brasses and lastly the floors are built with “TGI “tongue and grove I-beam” floor joist” these are those flimsy wafer-board long panels, by themselves they are not vary strong but as a repetitive member they are the strongest diaphragm ever made,

Roofs; are built either conventional framing (built on site) or a truss system (Factory engineered and built), both are equally strong but the truss systems are much more popular and cost effective, the roof cover are designed to divert water and sun rays, the real moisture barrier is the 15 lbs tar-paper that is the underlayment for the roof tile.

Doors and windows; are designed to save energy and to be earthquake resistance.

Whereas back east there are homes two or three hundred years old, here in California were still looking to see how long our homes will last, because we are still building them, and if maintained in a normal manner, your home will last 150 years at least. If you have any questions, I can guide you though the “shark-invested” waters of codes and the city system. Thank for taking the time to stop and read this message.

Housing Crash News

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Fri Oct 15 2010

September house foreclosures top 100,000 for first time (news.yahoo.com)

Israel unlikely champ in global real estate (news.yahoo.com)

Is David J. Stern the poster boy for the foreclosure mess? (news.yahoo.com)

How a gang of predatory lenders fleeced America (carolynbaker.net)

How deadbeat borrowers and shady banks siphon wallets of prudent Americans (doctorhousingbubble.com)

How two civilian sleuths brought foreclosure problems to light (mcclatchydc.com)

Bankers Ignored Signs of Trouble on Foreclosures (nytimes.com)

Foreclosure doomsday scenario? (laobserved.com)

Don't blame the government for mortgage lies (salon.com)

What Angelides Should Have Learned From Pecora (dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com)

Gallup Poll Shows Discretionary Spending at All Time Low (Mish)

Desperate Fed adds more cheese to the mortgage trap: rates hit decades-low of 4.19% (sfgate.com)

Hurry! Hurry! Because Mortgage Rates are Going… (patrick.net)

Fannie and Freddie in a Mess (theatlantic.com)

Lack of proper mortgage paper trail could leave big banks reeling again (washingtonpost.com)

Title has been clouded (moneydaily.blogspot.com)

Mortgages Lost in the Cloud (businessweek.com)

Buffett's Pet Bank Wells Joins Fraudclosure Circus: Wells Caught Lying (zerohedge.com)

Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck in 'Right Wing Radio Duck' (dailybail.com)

Rational housing valuations

Thu Oct 14 2010

The Coming Collapse of the Real Estate Market (Charles Hugh Smith)

Robo-signers: Mortgage experience not necessary (finance.yahoo.com)

Officials in 50 states launch foreclosure probe (news.yahoo.com)

Foreclosure Flap and Other Housing Industry Woes (knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu)

Foreclosure mess is housing's latest blood clot (seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Foreclosure anger is now hitting election campaign (rgj.com)

JPMorgan On Foreclosure-Gate (businessinsider.com)

Now We're Cooking: Subpoenas! (market-ticker.org)

Evicted Family Breaks Into Their Former House (blogs.wsj.com)

A Missed Assessment of Real Estate Debt Risk (blackswanzine.com)

Overbuilding, High Debt to Obstruct Economic Growth for Years (nreionline.com)

Bernanke Speech on Friday: A new roadmap for the Fed? (calculatedriskblog.com)

Deflation explained (realecontv.com)

The Swindlers Of 2008 Are Now Betting On World Hunger (newsjunkiepost.com)

Rich Guy Feeling Left Out Of Recession (theonion.com)

Does it make sense to buy a rental property while you are renting? (patrick.net)

Rational housing valuations

Wed Oct 13 2010

Thousands of homedebtors now face foreclosure in wealthy Marin County (online.wsj.com)

NY's Queens Housing Market Remains in Fantasyland (realestatechannel.com)

Deflation's push on the real estate recovery (firsttuesdayjournal.com)

How Hyperinflation Will Happen (gonzalolira.blogspot.com)

Hyperinflation, Part II: What It Will Look Like (gonzalolira.blogspot.com)

Across US, Long "Recovery" Looks Like Recession (nytimes.com)

Debt killed the middle class (guardian.co.uk)

Wall Street Pay: A Record $144 Billion (sanders.senate.gov)

Foreclosure Fraud: It's Worse Than You Think (finance.yahoo.com)

Robo-signers: Mortgage experience not necessary (finance.yahoo.com)

Title Insurance Companies Now Reluctant To Guarantee Foreclosed Properties (dailybail.com)

Foreclosure freeze could undermine housing market (nydailynews.com)

Why The Foreclosure-Gate Scandal Will Only Hurt The Housing Market (businessinsider.com)

Would a U.S. Foreclosure Ban Yield 'Catastrophic' Consequences? (pbs.org)

Here Is Your Chance To Check If You Are The Victim Of Mortgage Fraud (zerohedge.com)

Where's the Note? Demand to see your mortgage note. (seiu.org)

State of California decides to sell, rent for a while (latimes.com)

Insurance lobbyists secretly create & manipulate "grassroots" movements (washingtonindependent.com)

Thank You Ted D. ($25) for your kind donation.

Rational housing valuations

Tue Oct 12 2010

Real estate, especially in CA, seemed goofy even to least educated (blog.newsok.com)

"Rocket Docket" rushing foreclosures (jaquars.jacksonville.com)

Foreclosure Freeze May Slow U.S. Homebuyers on Legal Worry (bloomberg.com)

US housing market faces new threat from foreclosure fight (telegraph.co.uk)

Unclear Titles Will Sideline Buyers of Foreclosed Properties for Many Months (Mish)

Foreclosure freeze could undermine housing market (mynorthwest.com)

Cold weather will hinder already chilly housing market (minnesota.publicradio.org)

Ohio, Hit Hard by Foreclosure, Now at Epicenter of Fraud Crisis (washingtonindependent.com)

Ohio Attorney General Fights Against Wall Street (nytimes.com)

Central Virginia house prices may not recover for years (dailyprogress.com)

Bernanke's QE2 Heading for the Shoals (Charles Hugh Smith)

Economists Cut US Growth Forecasts Through 2011 (bloomberg.com)

Gold Fever Strikes the Super-Rich (dailyfinance.com)

Foreclosure Crisis: Eroding Trust — and Ending the Recovery? (dailyfinance.com)

The banking authorities were shocked – shocked! (kunstler.com)

Foreclosure Tightrope for Democrats (nytimes.com)

The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy (gonzalolira.blogspot.com)

Three Horrifying Facts About the US Debt Situation (zerohedge.com)

US Republican candidate in Nazi uniform. Hmmm… (bbc.co.uk)

Thank You Arthur K. ($5) and Joe F. ($20) for your kind donations.

When does it make sense to be your own landlord?

Mon Oct 11 2010

Extended foreclosure freeze could add pressure on hurting housing market (thehill.com)

Flawed Foreclosure Documents Thwart House Sales (finance.yahoo.com)

The Finality of Foreclosure Sales (creditslips.org)

After Foreclosure, a Focus on Title Insurance (nytimes.com)

Bank of America's Big Freeze Chills Housing Recovery (finance.yahoo.com)

Attorneys General in 40 States Said to Join on Foreclosures (bloomberg.com)

Mortgage Bonds: "Interconnected Ponzi Scheme with Various Types of Concurrent Fraud" (Mish)

English house prices: Dry rot (economist.com)

Every house for sale in Mountain View, CA overpriced compared to renting same thing (patrick.net)

Realtor admits agents enslave clients in debt for grossly overpriced houses (mcclatchydc.com)

This is the biggest fraud in the history of capital markets (voices.washingtonpost.com)

All Washington has ever done has been to protect Wall Street banks (theautomaticearth.blogspot.com)

Inaction by Treasury's Paulson a boon to Wall Street (kansascity.com)

Jon Stewart On Bank Bailouts And Foreclosure Fraud (dailybail.com)

Is ForeclosureGate About To Become Banking Industry's Stalingrad? (zerohedge.com)

Central bankers are huddling in search of a magic elixir to ward off deflation (washingtonpost.com)

From mortgage to morality: A new crisis? (chicagotribune.com)

The great mortgage mystery: why do they keep paying? (finance.yahoo.com)

Mortgage Bankers Association Strategic Default (thedailyshow.com)

Undocumented Worker (img.allvoices.com)

Which houses are overpriced?

Sold to the bank at the peak

This weekend's featured property is unique among the mortgage equity withdrawal cases i have encountered. The foreclosed owners (the property is now REO) bought this place in 1998 and never borrowed against the property. Then on 12/21/2006 they borrowed $354,000 and on 4/9/2007 they followed up with a $70,700 HELOC. There was no pattern of HELOC abuse, but these owners managed to put the property to the bank right at the peak and obtain maximum value without moving out. With the exception of bad credit, the deal worked out pretty well for them. They got the cash from a peak sale without selling.

I'm not sure how to grade them. They lost their property after more than doubling their mortgage, so I can't give them a passing grade, but they did manage to get maximum value out of their property while screwing the bank, so they deserve some credit for that.

Irvine Home Address … 6 LAKEPINES Irvine, CA 92620

Resale Home Price … $284,900

Home Purchase Price … $310,250

Home Purchase Date …. 8/12/2010

Net Gain (Loss) ………. $(42,444)

Percent Change ………. -13.7%

Annual Appreciation … -33.6%

Cost of Ownership


$284,900 ………. Asking Price

$9,972 ………. 3.5% Down FHA Financing

4.25% …………… Mortgage Interest Rate

$274,929 ………. 30-Year Mortgage

$54,059 ………. Income Requirement

$1,352 ………. Monthly Mortgage Payment

$247 ………. Property Tax

$0 ………. Special Taxes and Levies (Mello Roos)

$24 ………. Homeowners Insurance

$292 ………. Homeowners Association Fees


$1,915 ………. Monthly Cash Outlays

-$122 ………. Tax Savings (% of Interest and Property Tax)

-$379 ………. Equity Hidden in Payment

$15 ………. Lost Income to Down Payment (net of taxes)

$36 ………. Maintenance and Replacement Reserves


$1,465 ………. Monthly Cost of Ownership

Cash Acquisition Demands


$2,849 ………. Furnishing and Move In @1%

$2,849 ………. Closing Costs @1%

$2,749 ………… Interest Points @1% of Loan

$9,972 ………. Down Payment


$18,419 ………. Total Cash Costs

$22,400 ………… Emergency Cash Reserves


$40,819 ………. Total Savings Needed

Property Details for 6 LAKEPINES Irvine, CA 92620


Beds: 2

Baths: 1 full 1 part baths

Home size: 1,223 sq ft

($233 / sq ft)

Lot Size: 1,672 sq ft

Year Built: 1978

Days on Market: 59

Listing Updated: 40448

MLS Number: P748744

Property Type: Single Family, Residential

Community: Northwood

Tract: Lk


According to the listing agent, this listing is a bank owned (foreclosed) property.

You have been waiting for this opportunity! The largest floor plan in Northwood at the Lakes with a two car attached garage! Pride of ownership neighborhood with award winning schools nearby. This townhouse features two spacious stories with cathedral ceilings, romantic fireplace, and formal dining room. Also featured is a LARGE back yard with deck. The master bedroom has a peaceful balcony. Why is this spacious townhome priced so aggressively?? Because it needs your help! Bring your paint and tool box and you will have instant equity!

36 thoughts on “IHB News 10-16-2010

  1. Alan

    Actually, it looks like they did even better than just selling to the bank at peak price. That, and it appears that they then sold off a good bit of the bank’s property for extra cash. You don’t mention how long they stayed without making mortgage payments, but it could add up to quite an impressive take. Still, if they were so clever as to see what was coming, I wonder why they didn’t just make a real sale in 2006?

    Even though it is small change for Irvine, it might be worth the time for some debt collector to poke around and see how much of that extracted money is still recoverable.

  2. Kirk

    Let the market decide which building method is safe! Government intervention in home building will just lead to more home collapses!! Get the goverment out of home building!!!

    1. Chris

      You obviously haven’t lived or bought a home in China before.

      You want less govt intervention in building code, go to China. They’ll only intervene if their own pockets have not been **fulfilled**.

      1. Kirk

        Chris, I have worked for several think tanks and am an expert in the field Sinology, with a particular focus on infrastructure. The fact is that you don’t know what you are talking about. Regional building codes in China often require exposed wiring as insulated wiring is considered an “imperialist luxury” by the regulators. Building “inspectors” will come into your home and rip out your wiring if it is not up to code. This is very similar to how the City of Irvine will require a teardown of any unpermitted improvement to the structure of your home. I don’t need to move to China to enjoy third world living standards. I just need to move to Irvine.

        1. Chris

          “Building “inspectors” will come into your home and rip out your wiring if it is not up to code.”

          Bullshit. You obviously don’t know what the hell YOU’RE talking about. Since you’ve never been to China, you’re obviously talking as though you know more than some of the other folks like myself who actually know the inner links there.

          Inspectors, as you would call them, sometimes don’t even take damn samples of parts actually being built by subcontractors around China. Inspections are done at a minimum, if any.

          Builders would receive bids from subcons and hire them out to build. If problems arise, those subcons would not receive the last partial payments from the builders. Customers who bought shitty homes would have to fight it out with the subcons while the builders usually sit on the sideline.

          Homeowners usually can go through HOA in delaying the project deposit payment that the county govt withheld from the builder from paying back to the builder until all the problems are resolved. The problem with this is that builders are usually influential within the govt (pocket moola…yeah baby) that they would have absolutely no problem in getting the project deposit payment back after selling a certain percentage of homes within that project.

          Come on, provide me with more of your bullshit so that I can laugh at it.

          1. Kirk

            It sounds like the only thing you disagree with regarding my last comment is the frequency of the inspections. The frequency can indeed vary from region to region. I fully acknowledge that. I’m unsure why I’ve received such a strong response for such a minor detail.

    2. Geotpf

      Is this a parody of a libertarian or an actual libertarian? So hard to tell the difference these days.

  3. FoolishRenter

    I whole heartly agree with the building inspector. The electrical, plumbing, HVAC, structually, kitchen counter, cabinets, flooring … are all better than 1950-1990 construction. 1940 was mostly depression quality unless you were wealthy. Too much wanting the good old days. They were old and not too good for most people. Most family of 5 to 7 lived in 1200 sf homes, if they were lucky. Food was semi-scare until the late 1960’s unless you owned a farm (the middle and lower class people were skinny those days). The good was upward mobility and being thankful that you survived WWII, Korean War, essentilly free education ….

    Without building codes, the spec houses would be rotting from the inside out. The prospective homeowner doesn’t have the means to see what the sheetrock is covering. Bad wiring and plumbing are time bombs for the new homeowners.

    Three cheers for building inspectors who do their jobs. Pay up front or pay later.

    1. Kirk

      1940 homes were shoddy because of FDR’s New Deal. ObamaCare will lower the quality of homes built in 2014 once it fully kicks in! Can you believe the arrogance of this president? He even names legislation after himself!

      Do you know which country had building inspectors and universal health care? The Soviet Union! It collapsed! Is that the path we should take our country down?!

      Vote for Meg Whitman to stop the socialist agenda!!

      1. k2

        That’s right, the Soviet’s also liked to eat candy and had running water in their homes. We are going down the same path of those socialists.

        Let’s all get angry and emotional.

    2. Alan

      The last time I was in Florida, I visited the winter homes of Ford and Edison. They are of course still standing as restored historical monuments, but nothing I’d want to live in.

      I have also seen some very nice old houses, but they have been repeatedly renovated and updated. Definitely not for the weak of budget or time. Recent houses may have a lot of wasted or badly-used space, but they seem to be built well enough.

      Take away those useless regulations, building codes and inspectors, and you’ll soon be getting truly shoddy construction.

  4. Roger Banowetz

    Thank you for your response, and I agree.
    Sometimes I wish we were not so regulated, in our culture, together with all the other cultures our homes needs a mininum code and someone to check.

    1. Roger Banowetz

      Thank you for asking I will send more if you want after 35 years in the city system I will be happy to help you navigate the shark infested waters of the city system. thanks again Roger

      1. rkp

        Roger- a follow up post would be great. Would love to know what to look for and warning signs of bad houses.

  5. rkp

    Roger- for me, the belief of it being better in the past comes from the lack of noise insulation. My parents live in a west LA 1930 house and my inlaws in an OC 1994 house built by standard pacific. In my parents, you just can’t hear each other even though the walls aren’t unusually thick. In my inlaws, not only can you hear everything, you can hear the plumbing! Whenever someone uses the upstairs bathroom, you can hear the water flowing through the pipes on the wall in the living room.

    I am sure the 94 house is better from seismic sense but from quality of life, the 30 house is just better.

    1. RKD

      I agree with the noise issue. The paper thin walls in my 2001 Irvine home means I can hear flushing toilets, radios, and conversations in the next room.

      The windows were junk, too, until we got vinyl upgrades. They look ugly, but at least we don’t hear road noise like we used to.

    2. Roger Banowetz

      Hi rkp I am not satisfied with the sound issue, today we have ½” drywall with insulation on the exterior Walls, I have always wanted developers to insulate inside wall, but they won’t.
      Back in the 1900’s, 30’s and 40’s most of the homes were installed with a material called “beaver board” it is a very soft material, we use it today for sound walls, and most of the homes back then were Lath and plaster with wood slats “lath” and this wall covering is about 1-1/2” thick, later the 50’s until now we use “Metal lath” under plaster and some stucco, these covering are much harder and not very sound resistant.
      I grew up in a one story lath and plaster home and our lath was made of button board (drywall with holes in it to hold the plaster, our walls were about 1-3/4 in. thick and we still heard the shower, toilets, and my sister’s radio, just not as clear.
      There are materials to better sound proof your home check the internet. Thanks —Roger

  6. Swiller

    Roger did you know Don Plowman? When did you retire? I’ve been around a few years….anyone remember this? I sure do.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006
    Irvine inspectors under suspicion
    Building officials accused of taking material, soliciting investments.

    The Orange County Register

    IRVINE – City officials are awaiting separate reports from an outside investigator and the Police Department on allegations that include building inspectors’ acceptance of gifts and solicitation of funds for investments.

    The report from the firm should be complete in a few weeks, said Judy Pal, a city spokeswoman.

    Among the allegations: Inspectors accepted “gifts” of building materials and tried to sell investments to people whose properties they were inspecting.

    Police said they are conducting their own “professional and thorough” investigation of the city’s building inspector department.

    One building inspector, Don Plowman, resigned Monday, the city confirmed. The city declined to comment on Plowman, and he couldn’t be reached for comment.

    A former city building inspector says the department has been troubled for years.

    Two years ago, one of the city’s building inspectors agreed to pay a fine and perform 40 hours of community service for accepting bricks from a builder he was inspecting. “He took the position they were ‘throwaways,'” said Tom Crofoot, deputy district attorney. Crofoot said accepting the bricks was “contrary to the policy of the building department” and a “conflict of interest.”

    David Diamond was that inspector, and he still works for the city. He says he wishes he had never taken the bricks, although he insists they were being discarded. But he said he paid for his mistake with the suspension. Misdemeanor charges a year later that added community service and a fine amounted to double jeopardy, he said.

    Potentially more serious allegations came from Chicago-based W. E. O’Neil Construction Co., which was building a car dealership in Irvine. Robbie Robinson, the supervisor on the project, said the city building inspector asked for a $2 million investment in a recreation site proposed for the Imperial Valley. Robinson said he understood the implication was that the inspection would go more smoothly if O’Neil were to invest in the project. The company called police.

    Irvine employs a chief building inspector and 14 senior inspectors; it also uses 17 other inspectors on a contract basis. Last year that team made 125,000 inspections.

    Allegedly (LOL)….Don Plowman was the Senior Building Inspector for the Irvine Spectrum. He took cash and building materials on a daily basis. In fact he had a Materials Yard set up in the parking lot of the spectrum, over where the Target is now that when he would come by for an inspection of your space, he would put his materials order in and you were to deposit it at the Materials Yard on X date or you would not get a favorable inspection any inspection next time. He had his ‘Own’ little Kingdom running out there for many years….he finally got his. Oh and there were a few others that got the ‘Axe’ as well.

    1. Roger Banowetz

      BROVO to you to have such a fine touch on the latest news. I agree to all that you have said, I don’t agree with this is the buiding inspector trade in every org. and in every org. thair are bad apples, and I agree that everybody is accountable and every dept. shuld be looked it often.
      .So brovo to you, but you only looked at a few and you try to paint with a wide brush, that’s why you are with the regester ( my dog won’t even wet on the regester, I take the times)
      Thank you– A proud City Building Inspector—Roger

    2. Bitter Renter

      Thanks for sharing the inside (alleged) scoop on how Plowman did things at The Spectrum, Swiller. That’s truly horrifying that that was allowed to go on for so long, if true.

  7. Vincenzo

    Is there a building law in Irvine that requires each house to look very cheap and dull?

    I’m sure even in China many inexpensive houses have embellishments, wood carvings and fretwork, vivid colors, etc.

    Also, fires are more fearful than earthquakes. The Santa Ana winds can destroy a typical Irvine house, which is built according to all standards, in mere minutes.

  8. Tore P.

    Good point from Vincenzo about fire being more of a concern for our houses than EQ (even during during an EQ). As a structural engineer I also disagree that meeting the latest codes and standards equals improvement.

    After a big national event (Katrina, Northridge, Loma Prieta E.Q) we try to make significant improvements. After that, complacency creeps in and industry lobbying will in certain cases lower material standards and building codes. The big players do not want rule changes that can change their market or market share and will in most cases resist attempts at raising the bar.

    Remember that most or all contractors will use the most economical approved solution throughout the project. Even counterfeit items have become a problem: (http://enr.construction.com/products/materials/2010/1013-CounterfeitConstructionGoods-1.asp)

    Homeowners have told me about serious plumbing and foundation issues in 10-15 year old tract homes in Newport Coast!? I am sure they met code and I’m also certain they used the cheapest alternative out there (e.g. thinnest wall thickness pipe). The savings add up when you are multiplying the houses by the 100’s.

    The inspectors have a difficult job, but I doubt any of these tract homes will last half of his estimated life. But who knows what Irvine will look like then..

    1. Bitter Renter

      Hmm, my first attempt to reply to this post seems to have disappeared — will try again.

      Tore, thanks for your post. I’ve read too many horror stories of owners of recent construction who had major problems that needed addressing within a few years to believe Roger’s claim that improved building standards (which I will agree include some very significant benefits in the seismic arena) equal higher quality and durability across the board. I also have to wonder about the attention to detail of someone who can’t even manage to spell such simple words as “there” and “very” correctly when writing to a public forum. Thanks again for offering your contrasting professional opinion.

      1. Roger Banowetz

        Really! if you measure my worth on how I spell or my typeing, well you win but I have done well by keeping my eye on the ball, try it.
        Thanks —Roger

        P.S. Spell check saves me most of the time.

        1. Bitter Renter

          No, I don’t measure your worth solely on that, but it’s something I can’t help but take into consideration when deciding to trust you when you claim something I have heard is often a serious problem is a complete myth.

          You may want to add grammar check to your arsenal along with the much-needed spell check, as it’ll catch many of those cases where you spell a word correctly (e.g. “vary”) but use it in the wrong way (e.g. should be “very”), particularly when submitting articles for publication.

          1. Roger Banowetz

            Hi Bitter Renter
            As much fun as it’s been beating up my spelling skills, if you are looking for the perfect inspector then
            I am not your guy, because I make at least 10 mistakes by noon every day. So what you say we have a real talk about what you have addressed, what I wrote in my column is dead on accurate.
            Is everything perfect? Well not even close, are all homes built to the highest standards,
            No the codes are the minimum standards but that does not mean that they are bad standards, the standards are at the same level standards they had at the beginning of the century.
            Over the years we have improved the materials we build with, and how they are installed that’s the deference.
            Today do we have the same level Carpenters, plumbers, Electrician as we did when your father were in the trades? Well no! In though days one guy did it all or at least a lot more than the regular workers today, then we had apprentices and a lot more schooling, so that is the argument today for some.
            Ok today we have tradesmen that mostly do only one thing and if they do it long enough they get good at it. And I know many tradesmen that are great at whatever part of the construction they do.
            But is everybody the same? No not as long as we have humans doing the work, but what makes it work is the architect, engineering and the inspector on site.
            And what keeps them in business and forever improving design and materials, is called liabilities the court systems, with everybody wants guaranties, perfect homes, and will run to the courts to sue, this is what motivates them to do the best they can, I would like to think that they are millions of people out there that just want to do the best for the reason that they want to build the best. And in 35 years and in multiple cities I have never inspected a perfect home ever but I would stand buy today’s construction.
            Because everybody gets mad when something goes wrong with their home (me too) but if you look at the big picture today is better, ok except how they don’t insulate inside walls and exhaust fans in Bathrooms. Thanks —Roger

          2. Bitter Renter

            Thanks, Roger. Despite my grousing about your lack of attention to spelling and grammar (your above is much improved), I have no doubt that you’ve amassed a great deal of knowledge and wisdom about home inspection, which to me is one of the most important parts of the home-buying process.

            In fact I think it’s so important that I think it’s too bad that home inspectors don’t offer a “preliminary” inspection service, where you could pay a nominal fee to have a home inspector come with you to an Open House, and point out any problems that can be pointed out on the spot without having to go through the whole rigorous (and expensive, relatively speaking) inspection process. Seems like this could save a lot of time and money, being able to reject homes that would require too much expensive work early in the selection process.

            Lacking such a service (at least the home inspector websites I’ve looked at haven’t offered such a thing), I’ve been thinking about studying up on home inspection so that I’d hopefully be able to spot some types of foundation problems, etc. when doing house tours.

            Anyhow, thanks again for sharing your insights, and I do hope IrvineRenter features home inspection info from you again.

    2. Roger Banowetz

      Hi Tore
      I just read your observation and as a structural engineer you know what I am saying is true. Please don’t confuse the ridiculous 2007 California Building Codes with what I am talking about. It took me two years to get though all the new codes, and the normal human doesn’t read the codes it is for abnormal humans Architects, Engineers, and Building inspectors. With the codes we design the building and choose the materials that will last, and as a structural engineer you know that everything is way over engineered for safety and protect your liability.
      As for fire safety, after hundreds of fire burnouts and damage assessments inspections you find that everything burns and the only way to help other then better fire resistance materials is going to be the design of the homes.
      As for the horror stories of the bad construction God Bless bad contractors that’s why I have a job
      Thanks — Roger

  9. Roger Banowetz

    Hi Bitter Renter, …back to you
    At this time in history we need to work together in order to bring back something of what we had before. The last city I worked for was Santa Ana and my last big project there was the “Twin Towers”, a 27-story condo complex at Main and MacArthur (the largest building so far in Orange County, with the most advanced construction we know to date). Another part of my job was to conduct occupancy inspections of the businesses in Santa Ana, which is where I really learned about business and how to accommodate them construction-wise; it gave me a greater appreciation and respect for small and large businesses alike. The reason I tell this story is that after what I have seen and what I know, I can honestly say that nobody is “bragging” about too much business, and when I hear on the news or in the papers that we don’t have an economy problem, I know it’s a lie. I know firsthand that just about everybody is hurting right now, and that this is the time to share what we know to help each other; just like in the Great Depression, people came together and that’s how they survived and moved forward.
    So back to the problem, my wife and I have a liaison inspection business to handle the problems that people have with the local jurisdictions, and also a home inspection business. When homes were high-priced and selling, we could not handle all of our inspections and had to give some of them away; now we are experiencing a considerable (to say the least) slow-down in business just like everyone else.
    We all need to reorganize our businesses. We charge $350.00 for the average 2-story residence (not the highest and not the lowest). Our reports are very detailed and about 25 to 30 pages long, and we’ve been doing this for almost eight years. The inspection fee we charge is based like all businesses; you are paying for the work and the time it takes to do the inspection and report. I sometimes think it is too much, and provides more information than most buyers really need to know, but some people are scared that the home they picked is not going to be built well and want to know “everything”; and a report like that takes some time to put together.
    If you want a less-detailed inspection that takes less time and generates a much shorter, less-detailed report, we can do that too; it is similar to the type of inspection we provide for attorneys and banks that are just looking for the “high points” on the property. It would cost about $200.00 with usually a one-page report that can be sent to you the same day; and basically covers the foundation, walls, windows, doors, and the roof (structural part); and I show the installation of the water heater, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (the basics). If the buyers want to be at the inspection, (and they can bring anybody they want, i.e. dad, uncle, brother, contractor, or the whole family), I can give a walk-through of the home and answer as many of their questions as I can.

    1. Bitter Renter

      Very cool, Roger. Glad to hear that you have a less comphrehensive inspection option at a lower cost. I guess the question would just be whether that’s something that would take little enough time to be feasible during a typical walk-through with a realtor, and whether agents and property owners would be cool with you doing whatever you’d need to do before the purchase process has started.

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