When shopping for a home inspector, it’s vital that you do your homework and interview each inspector based on the checklist below.
Do not price shop. When hiring a home inspector, you’re basically hiring an advocate with your interests in mind to give you their expert opinion on the home’s condition. With that in mind, making sure that you’re hiring an inspector with plenty of knowledge and training means not shopping for one by price alone. Training, certifications, and continuing education don’t come cheap to the inspectors and therefore, their expertise isn’t going to be cheap either. When it comes to home inspections – as with most things – you get what you pay for.
Research their credentials. Since there are no national standards for home inspectors, one of the best things you can do to find out about an inspector’s qualifications is to ask what associations they belong to. Some associations require minimum training, experience, continuing education and also require the inspector pass certain exams. However, not all associations are created equal. Check out the associations’ minimum requirements. The best associations require that the inspector pass yearly exams and obtain a specific amount of continuing education credits. Also find out what level of the association the inspector occupies. Some associations have “candidate” and “associate” or other levels that basically mean that the inspector has not met the requirements to be a full member. Also ask what certifications the inspector holds and then research them as well.
Ask for references. An inspector should be happy to provide you with three references from previous clients. Call those clients and ask them about their experience with their inspections.
Make sure they’re insured. A professional inspector should be insured for “errors and omissions”, commonly called E&O insurance. This means that if the inspector misses something during the inspection, you can file a claim against that insurance for the repairs of the problem. Also, check the inspector’s contract for limited liability clauses that limit their responsibility for damages.
Make your own decision. Some states allow real estate agents and other professionals to make recommendations on what home inspector to hire. Besides the obvious conflict of interest issues, a recommendation does not necessarily guarantee that the inspector is the best choice. Make your own decision based on your research.
Ask to see one of their inspection reports. At the conclusion of any inspection, you should receive a report on the inspector’s findings. Again, inspectors are going to vary widely – report styles can range from the minimal checklist to the jargon-filled narrative. Inspection reports can be difficult to understand, so it’s important that you check out a sample report. Items marked as “fair”, “poor”, or “inadequate” without any further explanation will not help you understand what the problem is or what exactly to repair. Make sure that the inspector always specifies the exact problem and recommended repairs. The inspector should also indicate an estimated cost of any repairs he or she recommends.
Preparing Your Home for an Inspection
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a professional, complete visual examination of the all the systems and physical structural elements of a home. Our emphasis is on identifying existing or potential problems that would affect a purchasers buying decision.
Why do I need a Home Inspection?
A home is the largest purchase most people will ever make. It only makes sense to find out as much as you can about the house you are interested in before you buy. That way you can avoid costly surprise repairs and problems with your new home. Our report will also advise you of what maintenance is required to keep your home in top condition. A professional inspection will give you a clear picture of the many systems and structural elements that make up the property. If you are selling your home, a listing inspection will point out any potential problems that might be uncovered later by the buyers inspector. Finding them early will allow you to address them before listing your home, making for a faster and smoother sale.
What does a Home Inspection include?
Our standard inspection report covers all the major systems and structural elements of the house. This includes the condition of the homes heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, roof, foundation, attic and visible insulation, walls, doors, windows and all visible structures.
Do I need to be there during the Inspection?
No, you aren’t required to be there for the inspection. But we highly recommend that you be present. It’s a valuable learning experience for most people and will help you get the most benefit from the inspection. By following the inspector you can ask questions directly and the inspector can explain maintenance tips for specific areas. We feel you’ll be able to best understand the finished report and get the most benefit from it by having been there during the inspection.
How long will the Inspection take?
The time will vary depending on both the size and condition of the home. For most homes, 3 hours is pretty typical. But for larger homes, or homes in poor condition, it may take longer.
Does a newly constructed home need an Inspection?
Absolutely. A professional inspection of a new home is important. We can spot potential problems early, while they are still easy to correct. It’s especially valuable to arrange an inspection before the interior walls are finished. As building professionals, we may find problem areas where the builder has taken shortcuts or not done good work.
Why can’t I do the Inspection myself?
Chances are that even if you are very familiar with home construction, you still don’t have the knowledge, training and experience of a professional Home Inspector. We have the knowledge and resources of thousands of inspections. We are not only familiar with all the systems of a home, and how they work and need to be maintained, but we also know what to look for to tell us that they are getting ready to fail. But beyond the technical expertise and experience a professional inspector brings, it is important to remember that the inspector remains an impartial third party. If you are involved in buying or selling a house, it’s impossible for you to remain completely unemotional about the house, and this may cloud your judgment. The professional inspector will provide an objective outside reporting of the facts.
What if the Inspection uncovers problems?
Our report will tell you the condition of the house, including needed repairs and expenses. No house is going to be perfect. It is up to you to decide how any problems the inspection uncovers might affect your decision to purchase. If major problems are discovered, you may want to try negotiating with the seller to have them repaired before closing the deal. Or perhaps the seller will lower the price, or offer more favorable contract terms. In the end, the decision rests with you, but knowing about potential problems, before you buy, gives you the power to negotiate and make the best decisions.
Will you fix the problems you find during the Inspection?
No. The code of ethics of The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNachi) prohibits its members from doing repair work on properties they inspect. This assures that there will never be any conflict of interest by the inspector. Our purpose is to provide an unbiased, objective third party report on the condition of the home.