The Birth of RHI

RHI has been a well-known name in the real estate industry for over twelve years. From the beginning, it has always been our goal to educate our clients to aid them in making a more informed buying and/or selling decision. It hasn’t always been an easy road but building this company has been one of the biggest joys of our life. In twelve years, we have grown from one guy in a truck to multiple inspectors with an office staff. We have advanced from performing standard home inspections to adding multiple services. Doing this has not only improved our lives as owners, it has grown the lives of our team, clients, and our real estate partners.

Riecken Home Inspections started in October of 2010 while I was still teaching. I taught construction and engineering at a local high school. I performed thirteen inspections that first year. In 2011 that number grew greatly and over the years kept growing. In the middle of 2013, I finally decided to say goodbye to teaching high school and shifted to teaching home buyers/sellers and agents. If you had told me then where I would be now, I would never have been able to imagine it. At a certain point, this business went from Riecken Home Inspections to RHI Home Inspections because it grew bigger than me.

Growing Services in Southern Indiana

Once I made the decision to forge a home inspection career, I began the process of certifying myself in several different areas. I did this to give clients a more thorough look at the home they were purchasing or selling. First, I became certified in pest inspections because this area is a hot spot for subterranean termites. This was a service many clients were asking about with inspections. I also understood that it isn’t an if with termites, but a when. With that, our first additional service was added.
Next, my attention was turned to mold testing due to the high client demand as well. Mold grows on pretty much anything. All mold needs is an organic material and the right amount of moisture to thrive. There is some type of organic growth in every home. The key is keeping the home properly conditioned to keep it from getting out of control. However, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. This is why we decided to add our air quality test. Not only does the test tell you the different types of organic substances you have, but it also gives you the estimated levels and types of symptoms that occupants might encounter, especially if allergies are a factor.

Our area also has a lot of remote places to live. Most of these places do not have a city hookup such as water and sewer. When this is the case, the home will have a well tapped for drinking water and a septic system installed for waste disposal. Most of our country roads have farming fields and reclaimed or active coal mining. Both of these have impacts on the water table we drink. This is the reason we added a certification for well water testing. The basic test checks for E coli and coliform. A more elaborate assessment is available and will test for several other impurities. With the septic system, we can perform a dye test to help determine if the field bed is filtering black water properly. Most times if your septic has an issue, it’s a clogged field bed or was built on incorrect soil.

RHI continued to look at areas that would be most helpful to our clients. We knew that radon gases were another hazard in our area. The chemical makeup of the soil and bedrock makes the concentrations of radon higher than the national average. Radon is a naturally occurring odorless and invisible gas. When radon breaks down quickly, it releases radioactive particles that are breathed in and can damage lung cells. Long-time exposure at elevated levels is dangerous. We added radon testing to our service list after inspecting a home in which the owner had developed lung cancer. Not surprisingly, the radon levels in the home were very high. We knew this service was important to our area because radon gases are the second leading cause of lung cancer next to smoking.

We then looked at other items that could harm our clients. Lead-based paint was used in homes built before 1978. Every home that is older than that requires a signed lead disclosure form indicating the possibility of it. RHI can test the paint in the home to verify if it contains exposed lead. We can also test for asbestos in the home. Both of these can be dangerous to the health of the occupants, especially if you have children.

Over the years, we have received callbacks from clients with concerns about their outside piping. Common concerns were roots in the lines and damaged outside plumbing after a client has moved into a home. These items require a more specific type of inspection that is not utilized in a standard home inspection. Therefore, RHI again decided to add sewer scopes as a service. The sewer scope allows our inspectors to physically put a camera inside the sewer lines and follow it to the city sewer line. Finding defects in the pipes before taking ownership of a home allows for the repairs to be made upfront. This can save a lot of time, money, and frustration.

Not only can we do the sewer pipes, but we also have a camera specially designed to inspect a chimney flue. Our chimney scope utilizes a 360-degree rotating camera that allows our inspectors to see the chimney at most angles. When inspecting the flue, we are also checking for breaks in the liner, cracking, and spalling of brick material as well as pests or nesting material. This camera can be used in most fireplace flue systems to let buyers and sellers know if the fireplace or gas-burning system is safe for use.

Growing Our Leadership Team

Today, our team consists of multiple inspectors and an office staff. My wife, Jess, is our Director of Operations and my sounding board. Her main goal is to keep our team and business focused and moving forward. Nicole Guth is our client coordinator. She is who you will most likely speak with when you call the office. Her main purpose is to listen to clients and help them build the inspection that best fits their needs. She is incredibly knowledgeable and genuinely wants to help. RHI also added a growth coordinator, Libby Mayes. Libby actually started in our office as the client coordinator. We quickly realized she was great at connection and genuinely wanted to help agents with the buying and selling process. She supports both by teaching classes for real estate agents, first-time home buyers, and facilitates giving back to our community. They all add tremendous value to our team, clients, and agents.

Adding Inspectors

We have also added several inspectors over the years as well. We vet our potential inspectors first. We have a very specific process we use to determine if an individual will add value to our team, clients, and agents. We also love it when we can add value into their life. All our inspectors have varying backgrounds which bring something unique to the teams to make us stronger. Any inspector that RHI hires goes through our training process on top of the required training by the state. Before the inspector does his first solo inspection, he has completed several hundred inspections. Even after training, our guys are never left alone. We utilize a team communication app that allows us to be connected in real-time. If there is something on a job they have never encountered before, the team is there to give input as a collective group.

RHI completes home inspections in eight counties across Indiana and has moved into the Kentucky market as well. Curtis Swearer will be our main inspector in the Henderson and Owensboro areas. Curtis is licensed in Kentucky with additional certifications. As a native of Kentucky, he is eager to provide the same great RHI service to Henderson, Owensboro, and the surrounding areas. RHI is also available to help Indiana families in Knox, Davies, Martin, Gibson, Pike, Dubious, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer, and Posey counties. Rowdy Abbott is the inspector who takes the lead in the northern counties. He lives in this area and is well-versed in the surrounding counties. He is very knowledgeable and eager to educate as well. All our reviews let us and you know they are excellent inspectors.

As a home inspector and now a business owner, I’m proud of everything we have been able to accomplish. Home inspections as a whole is still a very young profession. The industry in our area has only been around since the late 80s. The home inspection was simply a punch list on a piece of paper. I remember starting in inspections using a carbon-copied checklist inspection and emailing digital pictures. As technology advances in the world, it most certainly will in home inspections. So many tools are being utilized to give homebuyers a better understanding of the home they are purchasing. It will be a wonder to think how it will evolve in just the next five years. RHI plans on being along for the ride. We will bring our clients the latest techniques and practices to continue our mission of educating our clients on what makes their house a more efficient and safe home. Our goal is to bring a high-quality home inspection experience to our customers that will help them make informed decisions now and know how to maintain and maximize their homes in the future.