As a home inspector this is an important question because we are accused of being nitpickers so often.
I will take some “liberties” with Wikipedia’s definition of “nitpicker.”
In defining a nitpicker, Wikipedia refers to “the pastime of finding mistakes in movies (homes) and television shows (buildings). These mistakes can range from very trivial mistakes that regular viewers (real estate agents and home buyers) don’t notice, to very serious mistakes which disrupt the suspension of disbelief in the show’s story for even casual viewers (first time home buyers).”
I would argue that it is hardly a “pastime.” One person’s trivial, is another person’s serious matter! While most inspectors get a “charge” out of some of the crazy stuff we see, I think there are actually very few inspectors that go out of their way to get “creative” about what they see–except perhaps when they write about it on their blog. In inspection reports that I routinely see, inspectors often ere on the side of so little information as to make the report meaningless and irrelevant to the purpose at hand.
This definition of nitpicking as a pastime is quite a departure from the origins of the phrase. Originally it simply described someone that actually picked nits. Before the days of delousing shampoos, for a person to be good at this job, it took incredible patience, persistence, vigilance, and thoroughness–and typically a large amount of “caring”–as well as super human powers of observation–to find every last nit.
Don’t these sound like the very qualities one would want to see in a good home inspector?
I guess that makes me proud to be considered a nit-picker.
No inspector can afford to be in a position of attempting to figure out what a buyer doesn’t want to learn about their home.
So who are these “nit-pickers” that agents refer to?
I would argue that that the ones that make a “pastime” of home inspections don’t really exist, but that instead, there are just agents that hate nits. That is not to say there are no “lousy” inspectors or “lousy” agents. Perhaps these agents had a bad experience with nits when they were a kid or with their own kids. But as with kids–when they come home from school or day-care with that note that says: “Little Jonnie has head lice,” you just have to dig in and deal with it. Why would anyone think it would be any different with house defects? Whether that house is lousy with louses or only has a couple of louses–sooner or later someone has to pick those nits!
It basically comes down to: “Too much information is never enough.”
After all–if you miss just one nit, the cycle starts all over again.
Now we don’t want that do we?
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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