Homes Don’t Have a Check Engine Light

Check Engine on Home

Home inspection clients have changed. One of the biggest changes has been that they have not been educated about how to take care of their home by their parents. Why don’t homes have a check engine light to tell us when to do maintenance like our cars?

Most people contract their maintenance or don’t do it at all

I think we can trace this back to kids raised by “soccer moms” that constantly shuttled them through activities. Even historically standard tasks like mowing the lawn didn’t happen as there wasn’t time, so it was outsourced to a lawn care service.

Besides being busy, a primary dynamic at work here is that the amount of disposable income increased substantially from 1990s through 2010 for many suburban families. This enabled parents to outsource home maintenance instead of doing it themselves and in-turn, they didn’t educate their kids about what to do, an how to do it. As stated above, because the kids were living such structured and busy lives there wasn’t much additional time to ask them to, or get them involved around the home. For parents that didn’t outsource, they had to cram some marginal home maintenance is to a few free minutes here and there. The idea of dad “tinkering around in the garage” didn’t happen as much with the most recent generation of families.

Anecdotally (and many home inspectors can probably tell better stories), today’s buyer may not even realize that there is a filter that needs to be changed for their central air system. Certainly most don’t understand heating systems whether it be the fuel source or how the heat is distributed.

How to help your client maintain their home

I’m fond of saying “homes don’t have ‘check engine lights'” and despite advancing of the smart home technology we are at least a decade away from that impacting a majority of homeowners. Without a critical eye to evaluate things that might be heading south, I can see a number trends:

  1. Owners will need help in identification and prioritization of home tasks/projects
  2. Home maintenance will be even more reactive than pro-active
  3. Owners will outsource even more about the home
  4. Inspectors will likely see more deferred maintenance than ever before

Inspectors that embrace the mindset of today’s buyers by using technology and helping their customers in ways they may not have before, will lead the pack. Whether it is helping the new owner find qualified home pros after the inspection is complete, or returning to offer services to the homeowner a year later, the skills and network of the inspector need not stop after the transaction is complete. There are important ethical lines that all inspectors need to heed, but ultimately, if the interests of the homebuyer are the number-one priority above all else, the inspector will have served their client well.

About the Author

Although not an inspector, Jack Huntress has been working with inspectors for the last 7 years, first with EDR ( developing the Neighborhood Environmental Report and in the last 4 years with his own business, HomeBinder ( He lives outside of Boston, MA with his wife and two boys. Connect with Jack at

How I Use Tap Inspect with HomeBinder

I have been using HomeBinder in my home inspection business. My clients have really liked the idea and seem to appreciate the free lifetime subscription I give them.

Since getting started, I have picked up a few best practices that I wanted to pass along. They should make it incredibly easy to use Tap Inspect along with HomeBinder. You can provide a little extra value to your clients without it taking any more time or effort.

What is HomeBinder?

HomeBinder gives homeowners a place to manage their home maintenance needs. They also provide a few other features like recall checks of appliances and equipment. HomeBinder will also send maintenance reminders that you can pre-setup.

Once you create a HomeBinder account as a home inspector, you can setup a template with all the reminders you want your clients to get. You can even add a list of contractors you trust and provide documents like a flyer or maintenance guide.

Create a HomeBinder from Tap Inspect

We tried to make getting set up as simple as possible. After you set up the HomeBinder integration, it shows up in the app just like the client or agents. When you publish your report, it gets published to HomeBinder too.

We put together a guide to help you get set up.

Update your Invitation Email

At the end of my inspections I have been telling my clients about HomeBinder. Then I say to keep an eye out for an email from them in a few days. It seemed a lot simpler to update my invitation email with the same info.

Invite Email
I think this has worked pretty well. It reminds my client what to expect and also lets them get a little more information before the binder arrives. I also like the idea that their agent sees the same invitation so they know about the gift.

Auto Transfer Your Binders

My goal is to get the HomeBinder into my client’s hands while they are still thinking about the home inspection. I think they are more likely to engage if they are still thinking about the inspection. HomeBinder has a setting to let you do it automatically.

There are two important things to keep in mind. First, once you transfer a binder you can not edit it again. Second, once you publish your Tap Inspect report to HomeBinder, you have to manually update HomeBinder with the new PDF if you re-publish the report.

The default HomeBinder Binder Transfer/Share Delay (in hours) setting is 5 hours. I changed it to 72 hours, or 3 days. That gives me plenty of time to update the report PDF if I needed to make any changes.

Remind Your Client to Enter Appliance Info

I am not a fan of typing or long checklists. That includes recording any serial or model numbers in my home inspection reports. Why not ask the client to enter them? In my HomeBinder template I have added a Maintenance Item to remind them 60 days after the binder gets created.

My thinking is that not everyone will find value in the recall checks and notifications. If my client does see the value they will not mind entering the information. By entering the information, they will use HomeBinder and hopefully explore a little more.