Greg Johns - WIN Home Inspection Cookeville.jpg
Greg Johns WIN Cookeville

Old Idea Traps

The other day I was in a crawl space (that should be the start of a dirty, old man joke …) and came across a drum trap. While that sounds like it’s a trap designed to ensnare someone when they try and play a drum set, it’s not. It’s an old plumbing application that was designed to do the same thing a modern P-trap in plumbing is meant to do – prevent improper draining in our plumbing systems which results in septic gases venting into our houses. This is bad not only because it smells bad, but because it isn’t healthy to breathe in these gases (Tell me about septic and sewer gases, Wikipedia) for extended periods. A trap, be it drum or P, holds water that prevents gases from venting into the home.

Drum traps were commonly used for decades and were said to be easily accessible for cleaning. However, this proved not to be so true as the drum traps often were located in crawl spaces and crawl spaces are places most home owners never want to be. So, these large drums collected debris from drains and didn’t get cleaned and then caused issues. They were, in theory, a good design as it was nearly impossible for an improperly draining waste system to siphon out all the water from a drum trap.

Price Hunting Is An Old Idea

A drum trap was an old idea that wasn’t bad, but had its limitations. Similarly, price hunting for home inspections has its limitations and needs to be updated. As consumers, being prudent with our money is well advised. However, there are some notable exceptions to that idea – we aren’t comfortable with a discount casket for our loved ones, or in buying the cheapest car on the lot. And, as the owner of WIN Home Inspection Cookeville, I’d like to add home inspections to that idea.

Potential clients call every day to price shop. This bothers me. Firstly, if you are paying good money for a home, why in the world would you try to skimp on the tool that lets you know you are making a sound investment? At an average middle Tennessee rate of $415 per home inspection, how does it make sense to save a few hundred dollars on a house that is an $80,000-$650,000 investment? To me, this signals a mix up of priorities. If you can’t afford your home inspection, you shouldn’t be buying a home. Now, I know this is a rigid position, but hear me out. If you can’t swing a few hundred dollars, what happens when you have to replace a water heater, fix a leak, replace a roof? Pretty soon, a newly purchased home becomes deficient in repairs.

Secondly, if you are price shopping, you are overlooking the purpose and value of a home inspection. Your home inspector should be well informed, well trained, professional, well communicative, and able to manage any home you throw at him/her. Those of us in the industry for extended periods (we’ve been in the Upper Cumberland region for 20 years now) bring a high level of knowledge, education, and skill to your home inspection. If you want us to charge you the same price as a home inspection from 2003, you are saying you don’t value our expertise, professionalism, or industry. Our job, as your home inspector, is to ensure you have an abundance of easily accessible information so you can discern whether any particular home you have interest in meets your expectations for a wise and sound investment. That is what I do. I perform home inspections, but I also help you get to a point where you can make more than just an educated guess.

The Moral Of Our Tale

Drum traps are still around. The one in this picture still works. However, plumbing design has changed, as have codes, to newer traps that self-scour and ensure long-term draining with less frequency for issues. Old ideas are replaced with newer, more appropriate ideas. Likewise, hunting for a cheap home inspection is an old idea. You’ll save a few dollars on the front end, but it will cost you many more dollars on the back end. If you are a price shopper, I have a suggestion. Ditch the old idea and replace it with a new idea: Shop for professionalism, customer satisfaction, longevity, and established professionalism. You can’t go wrong if this is your focus. Those of us that take pride in what we do only charge a fee that is average, fair and places value in our industry.