We recently caught up with Brian Botch of House Fluent Inspections, a top home inspector in the North Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth area to talk home inspections, homeowners and his business.
We chose to feature Brian because he is a detail-oriented inspector that we've worked closely with in bringing Spectora's modern HTML reports to the great state of Texas.
House Fluent has a perfect 5-star rating on Google and is growing due to their service, reports and agent relationships.
How did you get into the home inspection industry?
It was really more of a long, winding journey than a straight line to the home inspection industry. Construction and Real Estate in general has always been something of a passion and hobby for me.
One day a friend of mine who is a very successful Realtor in TX was complaining about needing an inspector and said “Brian with your skills you would be great at that”, then added tongue in cheek “Then I could have my own personal inspector I could trust”. That was enough to get me interested in learning about the industry.
I come from something of a jack of all trades background. My grandfather made his living as a carpenter, but was also a chef, farmer and tinkerer. My Father is an aircraft mechanic but also a carpenter, backyard engineer, inventor and someone who knows how to fix, build or create almost anything. I picked up many skills from them over the years and have always been blessed with the ability to just see something and understand how it works.
From a construction / rehab perspective, over the years, I have done plumbing work under a licensed master plumber, remodeled houses, replaced the entire branch wiring system in a home to get rid of the aluminum wiring, repaired roofs, built outdoor kitchens and many other things.
From a Real Estate perspective, I have owned homes in one form or another for the last 20 years. Whether that is the home my family and I live in or a rental home I rehabbed and leased or some other type of investment property.
I spent 15 years working at Farmers Insurance, primarily in support of the claims department. While I was there, I had an opportunity to accomplish many things from consolidating call centers to building company wide reporting platforms. However, one of the things I am most proud of was being part of a project to rethink our claims catastrophe team, top to bottom. In the end we built a group that had the best response to large scale weather events in the industry. Working at Farmers was an amazing experience and it really helped me to learn and grow as a leader.
In 2015 I just had enough of Corporate America and needed a fresh start. So, a friend and I started a company together in the financial services industry. I learned pretty quickly it was not the industry for me. It was overly regulated with intricate rules and regulations, that really no one, even the most experienced attorneys completely understand. On top of that our products were intangible. It just never really clicked with me and I should have left that long before I did.
What is your favorite part about doing home inspections?
Helping someone understand their home. Most people buy a home because they want to live in a certain neighborhood, or because it has that perfect something (Kitchen, backyard, etc) that makes it perfect for their family. But, they generally do so without much consideration to understanding what the true condition of their home is first.
When I was in the insurance industry, the one thing I really got jazzed up about was catastrophe claims. Not because of the horrible things that happened to someone or because of the excitement of an extreme weather event, but because that is where property insurance really shines. That is the place where you can lift someone literally out of a shelter and begin to restore their life.
I see the home inspection industry the same way, a good home inspection can help prevent the unexpected things from causing you or your family pain and suffering.
What is your least favorite part about doing home inspections?
I’m least happy when I am not doing inspections. When things are slow, I typically spend my time getting my name out there going to real estate events, open houses, sales meetings, etc.
Oh sure, those activities can be enjoyable too. I have certainly had my share of fun and met some great colleagues at those events.
But prospecting can really be a grind. I love working with clients and educating them about the way their home is constructed and operates. I’d much rather be doing that.
What are the most common question homebuyers ask?
“Is this a good house?” , followed closely by “Did it Pass?” I think I have had someone ask one or both of those on every inspection. I always tell people the inspection is not a pass or fail, it’s really an evaluation of their home empowering them to make decisions about which things if any they should address before or shortly after closing and which ones make sense to plan and budget for in the future.
As to the home being “good”, well, what is a good house to a guy like me, is not necessarily a good house to a young couple buying their first home with no background or skills in home improvement.
I understand why people ask it, it’s a natural thing to want validation on your purchase, especially such a large purchase.
I typically answer the question by explaining what I found in the home both good and bad and leave the opinion as to whether or not is is “good” up to them.
What do you do when you're not inspecting homes?
Well, when I’m not inspecting homes or working on my home inspection business, I love spending time with my family. I have a beautiful wife and four amazing kids. I coach my five year old son’s soccer team and am about to start coaching my three year old. My wife and I have a passion for homeschool and I love helping with that when I can.
I got a bit of the tinkering bug from my dad so I am always working on our home to make it better. Recently, I remodeled the breakfast area with a window seat and new molding, etc. I also try to spend some time each week working to be a better person, whether that’s training for a half marathon or a triathlon or going to church or reading a good book.
I have to keep busy, I’m not the kind of person who can sit idle for too long.
What tips do you have for new homeowners?
I love new homeowners, people buying a house for the first time are amazingly excited, they’re inquisitive and generally unbiased by their previous experience with a home. That’s a great thing!
I will go over home maintenance items with first time buyers and even offer to setup a call with them after they close to talk through anything they want.
As far as specific things I try to impress upon new homeowners after an inspection, (people hear this all the time), but changing your filters in your AC unit will save you a ton of money in both energy and repair costs and it is so simple to do. I also encourage them to keep a journal of their home maintenance and upgrades.
Keep before and after pictures, notes about what was done, receipts, etc. Not only does that allow you to see progress over time, but when you go to sell your home, having the maintenance records and upgrades really helps with the disclosures and it can be a selling point for your Realtor.
Why do clients and agents love working with your company?
People love us because we are not your typical inspection company. I am obsessed with the client and agent experience. We always answer the phone, and when my staff is gone, I roll the office line to my cell phone.
When clients arrive at the inspection, I always have water and snacks ready for them and do a full presentation with them. If they are there for the entire inspection, I encourage them to be involved and participate in the inspection process. I give them a notebook to jot things down, answer their questions and even have tools and a spare flashlight for the people who really want to get into the weeds with me.
When people call we just take care of everything from booking the inspection to gaining access to the home. All the paperwork is on-line for our clients including the pre-inspection contract, making the process smooth and simple for everyone.
Spectora is a big piece of that. The ability to send my clients a link they can view on any device really sets me apart in the market. I see Spectora as part of my strategic advantage.
Using concepts I have learned over the years, our reports are complete, yet short and to the point. They are easy to read, understand, and contain pictures and video of any issues discovered.
We’re constantly adding value for people and working to make the inspection process better from top to bottom.
House Fluent Inspections is a one stop shop, we can inspect the entire home using the best possible tools including infrared when necessary. We can also inspect the pool & spa, sprinkler system, outbuildings, well and test the water. We even schedule WDI inspections for you through a third party. In the near future we will be bringing WDI inspections in-house to make the complete inspection experience smooth for my clients.
What do you tell agents about your company when they meet you for the first time?
Real estate agents are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. They have insane schedules. The good ones make a promise and find the best possible house at the best possible price for their client.
That's where we come in. A well done home inspection should never be frightening, it should inform people about the complete condition of the home and allow them to make good decisions about what needs to be corrected prior to closing and what items can be addressed further down the road. It’s really about mitigating risk for everyone.
If you're a local real estate agent wanting to get in touch with Brian, you can find him at https://housefluent.com/ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org