Thursday, December 28, 2023

The transition from the old to the new begins

Over the next few days, more likely weeks, we will transition from the 25 year old Chris D. Hilton and Associates Home/Building Inspections to the new Black Cat Inspection Services LLC. We will do that without missing a beat taking care of your home and commercial building inspection needs on the fly as we transition. Ending one company and starting another, from scratch, is a relatively simple transaction. Keeping one operational as the other becomes operational in a piece by piece handoff and not so simple. You may notice some unusual happenings such as you may receive something from the older company and the next from the new. You may even receive something from the new company and the next from the old. Most of what goes out is automated and must be changed one piece at a time. Not to be concerned, the brand and umbrella is changing but the people functioning under both brands and umbrellas are the same offering the same impeccable service you have been accustomed to receiving for 25 years, even as we morph into something different. 


New Website Coming Soon

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


Our team’s Christmas present to you. Out of 50 years of construction and inspections in North Carolina, in January of 2024, a new company will be born, Black Cat Inspection Services, LLC, with more inspectors, added territory and services, and new website. The 25 year old company will be transformed into a different, new, and better entity, with a much longer shelf-life to carry on as The Old Man fades into the sunset, over the next few decades, as younger, brighter, faster, more agile, and intelligent inspectors take the reins and carry on.

Merry Christmas from our Inspection Team

Chris Hilton, Pam Hilton, Josh Hedges, Emily Cabrera, Doug Simmons, Gerald Rutledge, Jeff Theys and “The Black Cat” Sable

Chris D, Hilton and Associates Home/Building Inspections
Soon to become Black Cat Inspection Services, LLC
Check out our new Facebook page at

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Check out our Inspection Team October 2023


Check out our Inspection Team
Chris D. Hilton and Associates Home/Building Inspections
Celebrating over 50 years in Construction and Inspections in North Carolina

From left to right

Joshua Hedges
NC License 4658
Soon to be licensed in Virginia
ASHI Gold Certified Inspector
InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector

Emily Cabrera Castillo
Bilingual in English and Spanish
NC License 5716
IACS Certified Mold Inspector ID:IAC2-94353
Mold and Radon Technician
ASHI Associate Member
InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector

Christopher D Hilton
NC License 1069
IACS Certified Mold Inspector ID:IAC2-94198
Retired Commercial Contractor (NC/SC/VA)
Master Certified Inspector
ASHI Gold Certified Inspector
InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector

Pamela R Hilton (GrandPam)
Luxury Realtor with Mitchell Prime Properties

Nora Akers
Director of Agent Sevices
New Inspector Field Trainer
ASHI Associate Member
InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector

Doug Simmons
NC License 5561
ASHI Associate Member
InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector

Visit our website for additional information and their digital business cards.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Fire Prevention In Your Home

Fire prevention in your home from our own personal Firefighter/Home Inspector Doug Simmons. Check out Doug’s bio at the bottom of this page.

Doug discusses some basic fire prevention measures you can take to better protect you, your family, and your home. 

Smoke Detectors One of the most basic, but most important measures you can take to protect your family from a fire is to have working smoke detectors in the proper locations.  Smoke detectors should be placed in every bedroom, in the hall outside of every bedroom, and on every level of your home, and preferably be interconnected.  Interconnected smoke detectors will activate all detectors in the home should one single detector be activated by smoke or heat conditions.  I also recommend placing a smoke detector in your attic and in your basement/crawlspace.  Your attic and basement/crawlspaces often get overlooked when it comes to fire prevention.  In most homes these areas contain mechanical systems that are fueled by electricity, natural gas, or propane.  Mechanical systems fail daily, and should a system fail starting a fire having an early detection device such as a smoke detector can provide you valuable minutes to get your family to safety.   These extra few minutes are extremely important because in newer homes the building materials are much lighter and burn much faster than building materials of the past. In a home built 20+ years ago you had, on average, 14-17 minutes to escape a house fire.  In today's homes that time frame has been drastically reduced to 4-7 minutes.  

Not only is it important to have smoke detectors in your home it is also important to ensure that they work properly.  In most newer homes the smoke detectors are powered by the home's electrical system and have a battery backup.  Do not get complacent and think just because your home has electricity powered smoke detectors that there is nothing you need to do to them.  You still need to be diligent and change your smoke detector batteries twice a year, whether they need new ones or not.  I cannot tell you how many house fires I have been on, in my 26 years as a firefighter, that the smoke detectors were either missing, had no batteries, or were too old and just didn't work.  This is very frustrating, for firefighters, knowing if a home had proper working smoke detectors, we may have been able to save more of the home and/or its occupants. One last thing on smoke detectors and then I'll move on. Smoke detector manufactures recommend replacing your detector after 10 years.  This is mostly because the element inside the detector that detects smoke or heat will become dirty and ineffective over time. New detectors may also be more advanced than older ones.  

Keep Looking When Cooking Another basic fire prevention measure you can take is simply to not leave food cooking on the stove unattended.  We all live crazy hectic lives and I get it.  You’re helping the kids with homework while cooking dinner and the dog is scratching at the door.  "I'll just take the dog out really quick, the bacon on the stove will be fine."  Next thing you know, the kids are screaming, and you see flames coming from the kitchen window.  Please be mindful when you are cooking and don't walk out of the kitchen when you are cooking.  Unattended cooking is the cause of most house fires we respond to.  It is also wise to not store anything on or around your stove, such as mail, homework, kitchen towels, etc.  All it takes is a simple bump of the stove control knob to turn an eye on and if things are stored on the stove, they will catch fire.


Dryer Fires We can't talk about basic fire prevention without mentioning clothes dryers.  Clothes dryers are an important part of everyday life, but they require basic maintenance to help in fire prevention in your home.  Dryer lint is extremely flammable.  A neat little experiment to prove this is to take a small amount of lint, go outside away from the house, cars, trees, etc. and light it on fire.  You will be amazed at how fast it burns. The first part of clothes dryer maintenance that I sure hope we all do is cleaning the lint trap. The lint trap is a screen type filter that collects all the loose lint from the items you place in your dryer and limits the amount of lint that travels through the vent piping.  You should clean the lint trap after every single time you use the dryer.  These traps won't collect all the lint but do collect a large majority of it.  That leads me to the next item that requires maintenance.  The Dryer vent pipe.  The vent pipe should be connected to the rear of your dryer and be routed to the exterior of your home.  Dryer vents can become clogged with lint and in some cases, birds will enter from the outside and build nests inside your vent piping.  I recommend cleaning your vent at least once a year.  There are several different tools you can use to complete this task.  The simplest is a brush with extension rods (you can perform your own google search or ask for product advise from your local home improvement store). You disconnect the dryer vent from your dryer and insert the brush adding the extension rods until the brush has passed the entire length of your vent pipe and exits the home. After you complete the vent cleaning reattach the vent pipe to the dryer and it is good to go!


Fire Escape Plan Lastly, we are going to discuss fire escape plans.  Everyone should have a fire escape plan in place in the event of a fire.  I'm sure you've all heard this before, but it really is worth talking about and its very simple to do.  Pick a place in your yard and designate that as your meeting place. Your meeting place needs to be somewhere such as a mailbox, tree, fence, somewhere that can't be moved.  Once you have designated a meeting place work with your family to figure out the fastest way to get from different points inside the home to your meeting place.  A good fire escape plan will not be effective if you don't practice it.  I suggest practicing your fire escape plan once a month.  Make it a game where the family member that makes it to the meeting place first gets to pick desert one night, or something along those lines.  However, you decide to create and practice your fire escape plan is fine just as long as you have one and practice it.   


I hope you have found this information helpful and will see the importance of the issues I have discussed today.

A little background information  I have been a firefighter for 26 years.  5 ½ years with Clemmons Fire Department, and 21 years with Winston Salem Fire Department.  I have also worked in residential construction for almost 30 years.  A combination of new home construction and renovations/additions.  I became an inspector working with Chris Hilton last year and truly enjoy this new adventure.  As an inspector with my background, it affords me the opportunity to provide you with the right information about your potential home purchase as well as be able to educate you on building construction and fire safety at the same time.  I look forward to seeing you on your next home inspection.

Learn more about Doug at this link: 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Winner of our $100.00 gas card drawing for June

Sorry I am running a little late announcing our June winner. Life gets in my way. 

You say, "Have I not seen that lovely face here before?" Yes, you have. Lisa Hill, our top all-around home inspection referring agent of all time, won this gas card for last November of 2022. At the end of every year we throw all off the hundreds of eligible cards away and start over. Every time we perform a home inspection for an agents clients we place a card in our bin to draw from. Therefore during a given year an agent can have multiple cards to draw from but when one wins we throw the card drawn away. Guess who has more cards in the drawing than anyone else. Well, of course, our top referring agent Lisa Hill. Congratulations Lisa, you have indeed won again. How can you win? Simple, having your cards there and more than Lisa helps!!! Book your clients inspects here to become eligible.

I said lots of nice things about Lisa last time and you can access my comments here:

Hint, desire to know the truth about our inspectors? Ask Lisa, or the many others who recommend and work with us, rather than Realtors who have never actually experienced our work or have an axe to grind. Yes, there are a few of those incase you haven't noticed. Doesn't' that make much more sense? 

Winner of our gas card drawing for the month of June 2023


Lisa Hill


Stratford Realty Group 


I will be contacting Lisa to Sheetz card which she will receive shortly in an email. Hey Lisa - Become eligible for the next drawing by following the instructions below. Your card will not be re-entered. 

Word to the wise, we are having a terrible time remembering to get one of your business cards at our inspections. We haven't done a very good job of that. It is our fault so we have changed the process. For every inspection we have, with one of your clients, we are now creating a card to enter in the drawing. There are also other ways to be eligible. Let’s fill the drawing cage up with cards. All but the one drawn will remain for the full year. 

Question is how do YOU win the one for July? Find out here:

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Face nailing of vinyl siding is not typically acceptable even if the code enforcement official advises that it is

 We typically seldom encountered face nailing of vinyl siding until recently and now we are encountering it repeatedly on new construction. We are even being told that some code enforcement officials are saying that it is acceptable and not a problem. Contrary to popular belief, when it involves manufactured materials, the code, and the code enforcement officials, are not the authority, the manufacturer is. A manufacturer not only trumps code, but if issues concerning their product are not adequately addressed in code, their instructions and recommendations literally become code. SURPRISE!

With exception of a very few limited circumstances, face nailing of vinyl siding is never acceptable. The reason is that vinyl siding expands and contracts with the temperature and provisions are made with proper attachment for that movement with slots and nails which are not supposed to be installed tight. Note bulging and ripples in home with vinyl siding. Not installed properly to allow for expansion and contraction of the material. 

Our inspector, Josh Hedges, is the one this has been coming up with lately so I suggested that he do a little research last night. This is what he came up with. Read for yourself. Click on the photo below.

Find the specifics in Rule 8 Below

If anyone claims this is acceptable, simply have them provide a letter from the siding manufacturer, with their engineers seal, clearly stating that it is acceptable and covered by their warranty. Good luck with that!!! 

Monday, June 12, 2023

The Billionaire's Club

Seeking to conduct home inspections in the "Luxury In All Price Ranges" market? Might be wise to have a relationship with "The First and Only North Carolina Broker" member of The Billionaire's Club and have the "Mitch Approved" red wax seal on one's advertising. Check it all out here. Can you find "The Old Man"? The Mitch Approved seal? Our Director of Agent Services, Nora Akers"? How about my lovely bride, GrandPam, at the Seattle, Washington Who's Who in Luxury Real Estate 25th Annual Awards in September of 2022? 

Desire to be the best in your marketplace, then one needs to mix with the best in the marketplace. Never gave it a thought before today but we are pushing toward two billion in the value of our total residential and  commercial inspections completed over 25 year in this business.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Winner of our $100 Gas Card Drawing for April


Winner of our $100 Gas Card Drawing for April 


Ricardo Harley


Pioneer Realty


Our inspectors love working with Ricardo and his clients. Ricardo is old school kind, respectful, courteous and generous with praise for our work. I well recall our first experience together and the discomfort we had to overcome. Starting with a new, untried home inspector can be stressful.  We have had a few which didn’t go well. He handled that like a champ, moving on to other options with additional inspections for us. Ricardo places what is best for his clients above his own interests which makes him the type agent we prefer to work with. We can’t wait to work with you again Ricardo!!! 

I will be contacting Ricardo to find out whether he prefers a Sheetz or Speedway card which he will receive shortly in an email. Hey Ricardo  - Become eligible for the next drawing by following the instructions below. Your card will not be re-entered. 

Word to the wise, we are having a terrible time remembering to get one of your business cards at our inspections. We haven't done a very good job of that. It is our fault so we have changed the process. For every inspection we have, with one of your clients, we are now creating a card to enter in the drawing. There are also other ways to be eligible. Let’s fill the drawing cage up with cards for 2023. We have emptied the cage and starting over for 2023. 

Question is how do YOU win the one for May? Find out here:

Friday, April 21, 2023



Unethical is a huge dangerous word. Interestingly, I don’t recall ever being referred to as unethical until I entered the home inspection business. I am now referred to as unethical by a large number of disgruntled real estate agents. Sorry to surprise you but there is a very large number of agents who don’t care for me, anything I do, or how I do it. I am sure that occurs a great deal in private conversations but it is beyond evident when some action trips their trigger and they begin comments in a large public forum, typically with indisputable, unethical actions, comments and suggestions on their own part. For over 25 years I have tolerated this over and over again at different volumes and different capacities. I can’t even count how many times I have been told, heard it said, or read, that I was going to be reported for my unethical behavior. Amazingly, that has not occurred one single time as there is nothing to report other than their disagreement and dissatisfaction with how I run my business. 

Why is this the case. It’s very simple to explain. As home inspectors we often think of ourselves as doctors of houses. Nothing could be farther from reality. Medical doctors subscribe to the Hippocratic oath part of which is a commitment to “Do No Harm”. As a builder, I never subscribed to such an oath but it is generally accepted that we “Do No Harm”. As a home and commercial building inspector my job is literally to Do Harm. Yes, I am tasked with finding what is wrong with a property, detail that in a written report our clients use to demand things such as expensive repairs, financial reparations or even worse to walk away from a transaction leaving everyone involved in the transaction miffed and unhappy. Whose fault was it? Obviously, MINE as it was such a HAPPY HOME before I arrived. Yes, what I do harms many involved in these transactions. I totally get it and couldn’t be more upset and saddened at my negative findings in any home. Worse when my findings end up expensive or “killing a deal”. It is not my idea of how a day should end. That said it is what it is and I have never written up an issue that didn’t exist, or misrepresented any issue that I am aware of. In fact I work very hard attempting to represent issues in their proper perspective.

Interestingly, I have repeatedly been advised that I have adequate evidence to bring a few agents up on ethical grounds not to mention their repeated attempts to financially harm me and my business on legal grounds. I have enough on some to cause their license to be suspended or removed. Why don’t I take such actions my attorneys constantly encourage? Simple, it it is not the way I roll. I will function around them using their inappropriate actions to literally grow my business with those who observe and question their unethical, some illegal, actions and turn to me for inspection bookings. Why, because if these folk are so upset and belligerent because I did my job leading to harming them I must be very good at what I do. 

As part of this I would like to offer a huge outpouring of gratitude to all of the agents who honestly care for their clients and are elated at my findings, even when it may cost a great deal, or kill their transaction. They keep coming back over and over even considering the harm I may have done them in this process of simply doing what I am hired and paid to accomplish. 

It goes beyond just agents but also friends, family, former business associates and past inspection and construction clients. This most recent occurrence is not the first time many have risen to my defense and hopefully will not be the last. As part of this I would like to humbly offer my thanks to two who stepped forward this time. If you aren’t aware of who they are then you are not likely well connected to the real estate, business or political world. I am proud to refer to them as “FRIENDS” and am forever grateful for their involvement in my life. There are hundreds of others who will go unacknowledged this time around but you can be assured that I well know who you are and appreciate your support and friendship. These two did it in a very public forum that I can share. It is my great honor to be able to share this. These are examples of how I was accustomed to being treated throughout my construction career. I have been forced to accept what is so very different in by current career dealing with listing agents and their sellers. Such takes a great deal of joy out of my life. That’s fine I wasn’t seeking joy in the first place. I seek unquestioned accomplishments. If lack of joy is part of the expense of that, so be it. 

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Leaning floor support columns


Our Home Inspector, Josh Hedges, conducting a one year warranty inspection on a new construction home. Apparently, this mason had a little too much liquor as he was working, didn’t have his level with him, didn’t possess one, or didn’t know the meaning of the word PLUMB. These should have all been torn down and built correctly. They still need to be. This is the way new construction is supposed to look. Right? 

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Mold in homes far from a new issue - Addressed in the Bible

Today is Palm Sunday. As a former Sunday School Teacher, Theology Student, Preacher, Construction Executive and Home Inspector, thought I would share todays lesson on mold in your home. If you imagine this is a new issue you haven’t been paying attention. 

The Bible the worlds oldest mold remediation guide
(Click Link Below)

By popular demand we will soon be offering mold inspections and testing as an optional part of our home inspections and as a stand alone service. Coming Soon at 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Damaged Engineered Floor Joist

Front a Facebook Post: New construction, you be the inspector. Photos by our own Joshua Hedges This is one of the builders, if they were aware, ban us from their jobs, who many Realtors love and play that game with. We have found similar and worse structural issues on almost every one of their homes we have inspected. We have found similar and worse on homes by the companies some of their superintendents formerly worked for. It is a pattern. We don't do code but this is a code enforcement violation and should have been caught by the code enforcement inspectors, and repaired, long before our arrival. This repair requires a structural engineers design and will need certification of the repair. On a worse note this is over a basement and if this had been a finished ceiling no one would be aware till this floor structure failed. Are you awake yet? 

If you don't have your newly constructed home inspected, by an experienced, competent, home inspector (yes some are not) or you are a Realtor and not having a release form signed by your client who refused an inspection, or you are discouraging your client from having a home inspection, you are simply a fool. I may not be paid for an inspection but I will likely be paid as an expert witness in court as part of the potential lawsuit for potential massive damage when an issue like this fails. Guess who will be part of that lawsuit. The builder, the plumbing subcontractor, the Realtor and the Home Inspector who may have failed to catch this and include it in their report. 

Need a newly constructed home inspected by experienced, competent home inspectors? It is why we live and breath. Or you can continue to play the game with builders like this one. You will be the loser. 

My Realtor wife said that I was being very sassy. It is how most Realtors see me, even her. Yep, about time someone gets sassy about issues like this. Personally I am tired of addressing it, for 25 years, and obviously being ignored. Currently, for the most part, it is only home inspectors who are finding these type issues leading to their repair. Do you wonder what is in that home you purchased and didn't have inspected. No problem, we can address that as well.