When you make the smart choice to hire a professional home watch service, interviewing each one is part of your due diligence. The decision to turn over an emotionally and financially valuable property requires careful research. As you conduct the interview of each prospective service, ask about their tools. Tools are an indicator of their professionalism and commitment to the business.
You may ask, “Who needs tools to watch a house?” Let’s look closer at this question and see if you come to the same conclusion.
While you reside in the property, you make several assumptions about the house’s systems. Many of these are based on being there for months at a time and being in the home for hours on end. If you feel cold or hot, you go to the thermostat and make an adjustment. If that doesn’t work, you call an air conditioning company. If the freezer appears cold, you don’t worry. When it isn’t cold, you call a repairman. If you look up one day and see a spot on the ceiling, you assume there is a leak and call a roofer or perhaps crawl around in the attic to look for a leak. If you hear a toilet running, you shake the handle. If that doesn’t work you may call a plumber or handyman. You know the pool has a leak because you look at it every day. In each case, your experience from living in the property is what allows you to see what is happening and take corrective action.
A home watch service, on the other hand, is only in the house for an hour or less on most visits. Whether you pay for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly inspections, they must make decisions based on this short period of time. They do not have the luxury of living on the premises and watching for items to fail. They should be pro-active in monitoring the home’s systems, comparing the results to previous history, and taking corrective action. What allows them to do this? Professional grade tools are the key.
As a minimum, your service person should carry an instantaneous digital temperature sensor with a high degree of accuracy, a humidity sensor with plus or minus 2% accuracy, specialized lighting for quickly identifying flaws in the ceiling, tools to find toilet leaks, a camera to record problems, a moisture meter, and other similar equipment. The best of the best will even have special ‘smoke’ to check the fire alarms, a specialized tool to check the microwave, a leak check system for the pool, and may have an infra-red camera to identify problems. The list of tools is not nearly as important as recognizing that they are a necessary part of watching a property.
On every visit, the service should be inspecting and recording such items as the temperature of the fridge and freezer, the temperature at the vents for air conditioners and heaters, examining every corner of the ceilings, closets and floors, for leaks with a high-powered light, recording the inside temperature and humidity, and similar tasks. This is their one time, and it is short compared to living in the property, for identifying problems before they become a huge issue. A mere walk through, just looking for things, is of no value unless it employs professional grade tools and the information is recorded.
When you interview for a professional to watch your home, ask to see what tools they have. If their reaction is shock, and they bring out an old pair of pliers, send them on their way. Let someone else deal with the problems that will happen from this less than prepared service.