During his 25 years as a home inspector in the Boston area, James Brock has seen pretty much everything you can imagine. At this point, not much can faze him.
Like the time a realtor told him to watch out for the Total Resistance Exercise — or TRX — straps the homeowner had left hanging from the ceiling in the middle of one of the bedrooms.
Not so odd, perhaps. But when Brock walked upstairs with the young buyer, it soon became clear that it wasn’t workout equipment after all.
“We looked at this thing and then we both looked at each other,” said Brock, owner of Boston Home Inspectors. “I just shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘We’ll leave it at TRX.’ ”
From the humorous and bizarre to the downright unbelievable, for years Brock has been capturing images of surprising scenarios — like the curious harness — he encounters each day on the job. He shares those experiences to his Instagram account, @bostonhomeinspectors, which has built a strong following for its amusing, at times mind-boggling content; an inside look at the pitfalls of homeownership that’s become an online reference for new and prospective buyers.
“I get so much great material from the inspections I perform,” Brock said of his account, which highlights all manner of home improvement missteps, from faulty wiring and mold to shoddy support beams and stairs that lead to nowhere. “Just funny stuff people can look at and laugh at.”
During the pandemic, Brock has found himself busier than usual, conducting inspections each week as people flock to suburban enclaves seeking more space. On the flip side, many empty-nesters have been downsizing by moving into the city so they have less to worry about when they head south to places like Florida.
“We’re catching both,” he said. “That’s been nice.”
Massachusetts recorded 6,410 single-family home sales in December, according to experts, a 28 percent increase from last December and the culmination of a months-long surge.
The influx in home inspections, which he conducts with his son, Aidan, has been a boon for Brock’s page, a space he tries to make informative and lighthearted.
Brock launched the account in 2016. Every year, the 55-year-old South Boston resident said he likes to find new ways to bolster his business, whether it’s buying fresh uniforms or improving customer reports.
That particular year, the father of six was having pizza with a few of his children when they suggested he dip his toes into social media to attract clients. Far from a web-savvy millennial, Brock was hesitant. But when his kids set up the account for him and he made his first post — a picture of a gas pipe fitting used on a water main — he fell victim to the familiar desire to share more and more with the world.
He started out small: a breathtaking view from the top of a condo in Boston, or an oddly placed sump pump outside of a garage.
Those gave way to images of mold hiding in cracks and crevices, and uneven deck beams or slanted window frames. Over time, the descriptions paired with each image became more amusing. And by the time he shared a picture of a skylight window that looked down onto a toilet in 2017, he had hit his stride.
“I’d sit at the dinner table and tell the kids, ‘Look at that! I finally have 100 followers!’ ” he said. “Each milestone I would say ‘Lookit!’ ”
Now, Brock has a formidable social media presence for someone in his industry, with more than 10,000 people following along as he documents what he describes as the “funny and unbelievable things found on home inspections.
At times, Brock is even recognized by people for his account. Realtors will joke, “I hope this doesn’t get on your Instagram page!,” and new customers have reached out to him because of it.
He’s also adopted a formula: no more than one picture per day so he doesn’t flood his fans’ social media feeds, and always use a good title. His favorite is simply, “Why???”
Part of the allure to keep it going, he admits, has been the feedback he receives from fans of his account about the puzzling home improvement blunders he sniffs out. Each post typically draws humorous comments that leave him thinking, “I should have used that.”
“No mushrooms needed for that trip,” someone wrote on a picture of a warped and wavy deck Brock posted this week.
Among his recent posts was a picture of a toilet installed in front of a curtain-less window that looks out directly at a neighbor’s house (“a [expletive] view,” a commenter quipped), a water spigot above a home’s electric panel, and floor joists haphazardly cut out in a basement to make room for a home gym.
Through it all, Brock mostly shakes his head in disbelief. Can it get any crazier, he thinks?
The answer, somehow, is always yes.