Do Your Own Homework When Finding A Home Inspector

Most real estate agents will advise their clients who are planning on purchasing a home to hire a home building inspector. A home inspector is a licensed and certified professional who visits the home prior to purchase and inspects it for any damages or problematic issues. A thorough home inspection can help save many inexperienced buyers from committing to a lifetime investment full of electrical issues, plumbing leaks and foundation problems.

Get Reliable Recommendations

When searching for a qualified home building inspector in your local area, it is best to seek advice from other recent home buyers who have used the same type of services in the past. Friends, family members or neighbors who have used a local home inspection company can advise you on which companies to avoid and which inspection teams provided them with quality results in a fast and efficient manner.

Find a Licensed and Certified Inspector

There are over 20,000 home inspectors located nationwide and, unfortunately, many states do not require home inspectors to be certified or licensed. Dealing with an inspector that does not have a state certification or license could lead to major problems down the road. Having a license requires continuing education and training. Always look for a professional who has valid certifications whether your state requires it or not.

Choose an Inspector Associated with Professional Inspection Affiliates

Try to find an inspector who is associated with professional inspection groups such as the National Institute of Building Inspectors or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). These are some of the most reliable home inspectors in the industry. In order for an inspector to remain affiliated with one of these groups, they must pass their required education levels, meet current building code knowledge and continue to receive training related to changes in the home inspection industry.

Do Not Rely Only On Your Agent’s Recommendations

While your real estate agent may be able to recommend several home inspectors, you should not simply take their word for which professional is the best. Agents and inspectors may have a financial incentive involved in their arrangement and your real estate agent’s thoughtful suggestion may only be a hopeful sales pitch in the end. Use your own judgment when it comes to choosing the right person to inspect your home. Their evaluation will determine whether or not you should invest in the home, so you must do your own evaluation of their skills, knowledge and experience before you trust them to produce an accurate home inspection report.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector

Congratulations, you’ve found the perfect home to buy! Right about now, you are probably on information overload, and looking for resources to get everything ready. One of the most important steps you need to take after getting that ratified contract is to get the home inspected. Like most subjects on the internet, there is a ton of information about home inspections, and how to hire them. One source that is very underrepresented though is probably the best one out there: the home inspectors themselves. No, I’m not just talking about reading their websites, since anyone can put up whatever they want. Instead, we went to a group of highly respected home inspectors and posed this question: If you were hiring a home inspector to inspect a home for your out-of-state family member, what questions would you ask them?

1. What are your certifications?

If you are in one of the many states where home inspectors are licensed, that is just a minimum level to be able to do the job. As a group, we will look for a home inspector that has taken the time to get extra certifications above and beyond the minimum. There are multiple home inspection organizations (both national and local) that offer certifications for inspectors. The two major organizations are the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Both offer multiple levels of certifications based on both experience and continuing education. InterNACHI has the Certified Professional Inspector and Certified Master Inspector certifications. ASHI has the ASHI Associate, Inspector, and Certified Inspector certifications.

In states where there isn’t a licensing program for home inspectors, it is even more important to make sure the inspector has a certification, since essentially anyone can call themselves a home inspector! In these cases, it can be tempting to hire someone like a general contractor to just walk through the house with you. But, as Andrew Jolley with JODA Home Inspections in Stansbury Park, Utah said “unlike contractors, home inspectors have a system they follow so that all systems are evaluated and nothing is left out of the inspection.” Additionally, a certified home inspector has received training on all of the systems in a house, as well how to inspect them and look at the whole house as a system.

2. What kind of report do you provide and when will I receive it?

Hopefully any legitimate inspector will be providing you with a written report that you can use in your evaluation of the home purchase. That being said, reports differ in both style and level of detail. An inspection report should include digital pictures of defects as well as narrative statements about the systems and defects found. Some reports will also include things like video, glossaries, and summaries. If there is a summary, make sure you still read the entire report!

The turnaround time for a report should also be determined. As inspectors, we understand the tight timelines your real estate agent has put you under, so we will always get you the report as quick as possible. Remember that sometimes a little extra research is required, so don’t expect to get the report at the end of the inspection. Most inspectors should have the report to you within 24 hours of the end of the inspection.

3. Walk me through your typical inspection, what are the most important things?

Norm Tyler of Sage Inspections in St. Louis, MO says: “I’d ask this for a couple reasons. It would help me decide if his approach would be similar to mine. Every inspector is a little different, some will detail 500 little issues, while I’m more of a ‘disregard petty cosmetic stuff so I can focus on finding $1000 problems’ kind of guy. More importantly, if the inspector takes the time to walk me through his approach now, while I’m just a prospect – he’ll probably take all the time needed to take care of me as a customer.”

4. Are you available after you send the report for questions and/or clarification?

This was one of the most popular questions I received from the inspectors I talked to. We all strive to write a report that explains all of the issues as clearly as possible, but sometimes things may not make sense to you. Being able to call or email your inspector with questions after the inspection is critical, especially if you can’t make it to the inspection.

Along with this, you should probably ask the inspector about their policy for follow-up inspections. Once you have negotiated repairs with the seller, make sure you get those repairs re-inspected. I have done a lot of re-inspections, and I have yet to find that all of the repairs were done. Sometimes I am given receipts for repairs that were clearly not even attempted. You should expect to pay for this re-inspection, so find out what it will cost ahead of time so there aren’t any surprises.

5. What is your home inspection experience?

You will find that home inspectors come from many different backgrounds. Some may have been in the building trades, and some may be doing it as a second career. The important thing to look for is an inspector that has experience doing home inspections. David Sharman of County Home Inspection in Peterborough, Ontario mentioned to ask them how many inspections they’ve done in the last 12 months. This number could vary based on the market, but it should be a reasonable number. Look for someone doing at least a few inspections a week, but be wary of those that have really high numbers (unless they have multiple inspectors at their company). This can be a sign of someone that is just doing the minimum to get on to the next inspection of several that day.

6. How many inspections do you do in a day?

Hopefully the answer is only one or two. Most inspectors will do a morning and an afternoon inspection. Some will add in an evening inspection. If it gets over three, start to worry about how long they are spending on your inspection. Most inspections will take 2-3 hours for an average size house. Smaller houses don’t really cut down on the time, but larger houses can significantly increase the amount of time it takes to inspect.

7. What extra services can you provide?

Michael Conrad II, at Diligent, LLC in Nashville, TN points out that you should check with the inspector to see if they offer any other inspection services, such as Thermal Imaging, Termite, Radon, and Mold inspections. This can help you in many ways, since not only do you get all of the inspections you need from one company, it allows your inspector to look at the whole house as a system and provide the best assessment of the house. Some areas require separate licenses for these extra inspections, so make sure they have those licenses as well if required. If licensing isn’t required, make sure they have a third-party certification.

8. Can I accompany you on the inspection?

The inspection is your time to learn about the house. Odds are, the inspection is the longest amount of time you will spend in the house until you own it, so make the most of it. Your inspector should encourage you to ask questions as the inspection is going on. After all, it’s a lot easier to explain (and understand) an issue with it right in front of you. If you wait until a day or two later, now the inspector has to explain it over the phone, and they’ve inspected more houses since then. Charles Buell, of Charles Buell Inspections, Inc in Shoreline, WA, says that he wants the client there the whole time. This is their time to learn about the house. Additionally, Jim Holl with 5 Star Home Inspections LLC in Hillsborough, NC says: A professional home inspector wants you, the future occupant, to attend the inspection so you can ask questions and see most of what the inspector sees. Since you are going to live there and get to maintain it, for safety, health and financial reasons, this is your opportunity learn all about your new castle. If the inspector doesn’t want you to observe, move on to the next inspector you want to interview.

9. Who will be doing the inspection?

This is mainly for the multi-inspector firms, but Ian Mayer of IM Home Inspections in Woodland Hills, CA warns to watch out for the bait-and-switch. The owner of the company may have really great certifications, but he sends out the guy that was just certified last week to do your inspection.

10. What warranties/guarantees are included with the inspection?

A home inspection is, by definition, a snapshot in time. It shows the condition of the house on the day of the inspection. None of us have a crystal ball to predict the future of a house, and sometimes sellers will intentionally hide known defects. Some home inspectors offer various warranties and guarantees with their inspection. Make sure you read the fine print on anything offered to ensure you understand what you are getting and what the limitations are. Frank Rotte of Certified Inspection Services, LLC of San Diego points out that many repairs are actually under the deductible, so the buyer ends up paying for the repair anyways.

11. How much does the inspection cost?

This is the last question you should ask, and it’s really only so you know how much to write the check out for. In other words, don’t price shop, and don’t look for the cheapest inspector. (How much are you paying for that house again?) James Braun with Braun Inspection Consultations in Jefferson City, MO rightly says that “A good inspector is not cheap, and a cheap inspector is not good.” You are making what may be the largest purchase of your life, do you really want the cheapest inspector you can find to do your inspection?

Thank you for sticking with me for this long, and I hope that it has been informative for you. The best home inspectors are those that work for you, and inspect each home as if they, or their favorite relative, were buying it. These home inspectors have nothing to gain except providing you with the best inspection they can, which allows you to make an extremely important decision. Now, go out there and hire the best home inspector you can find.

Home Buying Basics – How to Find a Qualified Home Inspector

Home inspection is an integral part of real estate investment. If you are considering buying a property, you should hire home inspection service. Most people do not realize how important it is to find a home inspector, whether you are selling your house or buying a new one. Bluntly, some inspectors are less credible when it comes to their background and qualifications. In order to find a home inspector that suits your liking and preferences, the following should be considered as a resource:

The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) – Most legitimate businesses in San Diego and the rest of California are members of CREIA. If you ask reputable real estate brokerages, most of them require their agents to work with members of this association. As with most states, a particular member of an association cannot advertise its connection with a particular group until this member has reached the strict minimum standards of a practicing member. CREIA has developed Standards of Practice that define the minimum scope of a home inspection. It also has a Code of Ethics that requires its members to exhibit the highest levels of professionalism, integrity, dedication, and good faith in any dealings with the client. By doing these, associations like CREIA ensures clients that they are dealing with a reputable and reliable home inspection service provider.

Another surefire way of finding a qualified inspector for your home is by asking for opinions and feedback. Talk to friends who have had inspection services recently. How satisfied are they to the services of the inspector? Did their inspector do a great job? You can also ask them the processes that they went through in finding the house inspector for their residence.

If you have a trusted real estate agent, ask for some recommendations. Agents deal with house inspections everyday. They often have first-hand experience on how home inspectors work and they surely know who the good inspectors are. However, take care not to immediately get the services of your real estate agent, unless you completely trust him. Usually, agents recommend the ones who will help them get the deal that they want. Ask the agent at least three references and then use these names as a starting point in your search for a home inspector.

If you do not know friends who have had a home inspection service or an agent who can give referrals, you may utilize the yellow pages to find a home inspector. If you live in San Diego, search for local names first before moving on the companies in other states. Try searching online yellow pages because they have feedback pages where you can check out what other people are saying about a particular service provider.

Before you finally hire the services of the home inspector, remember to check out the home inspector of your choice. Secure copies of their previous inspection reports to determine how thorough they are when it comes to home inspection. Ask about their record of accomplishment. Ask for the names of their specific clients and if possible, try calling a few of their previous clients to find out if the home inspection service did a good job with them. It will not hurt to ask so that you are sure that what you would be paying is worth your money.