How To Pick The Best Home Inspector: 5 Questions to Ask

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Asking the right questions will help ensure every buyer will pick the best home inspector.

When you’re making one of the largest investments of your life, it is important that you use a well-qualified professional to do your inspection, even if you pay a little extra.

Inspectors are like golfers, they have different levels of skills.

Here’s The Questions You Should Ask ?

Does The Inspector Belong To Any Professional Organizations?

Professional Organizations are the main way that most inspectors enhance their education. They help inspector keep up with the new and current codes, as well as, changes in construction and technology.

Ask the inspector if he belongs to any of the following professional organizations. Some professional inspectors will belong to one or more organizations. Usually these organizations will have specific requirements in order to belong to that organization, as well as, continuing education requirements (such as 30 hours of continuing education per year). Having educational requirements is very important in keeping inspectors up-to-date and sharp. Below is an example of 3 national professional organizations and one of the state organizations.

  • ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors
  • NACHI – National Association of Certified Home Inspectors
  • NAHI – National Association of Home Inspectors
  • CREIA – California Real Estate Inspection Association; an example of a state professional organization.

Do An Online Search of Professional Organizations Websites

Most professional inspector organizations have websites that list the inspectors that belong to it. Often you can search by Zip codes, names, etc. The websites may also provide additional information about their standards and education requirements for an inspector to belong to that organization.

Check The Inspectors Experience And Back-Ground

The back ground and experience of an inspector is one of the questions that would be wise to ask about.

  • How many inspections has the inspector done?
  • How many years have they been doing home inspections?
  • Does the inspector have any construction or engineering background. If so, what?
  • Has he taken any inspection courses or attended any inspector training schools.

Remember – Inspectors are usually happy to tell you about their back ground and experience’s. Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves?

Check the Inspectors References

Asking for references on some who will perform such an important inspection is wise. The more you know about someone, the more you can judge there capabilities. Just asking for their references is only half of it – you need to call them.

It’s Important to Know The “Standards of Practice” And “Code of Ethics”

Ask the inspector what  “Standards of Practice” and “Code of Ethics”  that he follows when he does his inspection. You may want go to that Professional Organization website and read the “Standards of Practice.” You will be surprised about how many things a home inspection covers, as well as what it doesn’t. Note that some states will also have their “Standards of Practice.”

License – What Type Does The Inspector Have

 

Is the inspector licensed? If so, what type of license does the inspector have? Check to see if your state requires a license to be a home inspector.

Roughly 40% of the states require a license to be a home inspector; the rest do not. For example, in California, the largest state in the US, does not require a home inspector to be licensed.

If your state does, ask if the inspector is he licensed. Also, most states have a website where the license can be verified.

“Licensed” verses “Certified” Inspector

What is the difference? Generally a license will be issued by a state; a “Certification” is generally issued by a professional organization such as ASHI or NACHI. Inspectors may be both licensed and “Certified” in the states that issues licenses

Agents, Friends, Family and Co-workers May Know a Good Inspector

Checking with others about inspectors that they have worked with or know about can provide good information on an inspector. What they say, may be good or bad. Checking out their recommendations is not a bad idea. Also, Yelp and other social websites may have comments.

Agents are often a good source to consult with when looking for an inspector. They will often know several and tell you the good and bad points about the inspectors. Asking them for the names of three inspectors that they may recommend is often a good source.

A word of caution, sellers may post bad things about an inspector because he discovered negative things about their home; or buyers may post negative things because they didn’t understand the scope of work or limitations of the inspection.

Look At A Sample Inspection Report

There is no standard format in the inspection industry and no standard governmental layout or form that home inspectors must use. Therefore, asking the inspector to see a couple of his inspection reports will give you an idea of what yours will look like. The more through the report the better.

Photo’s: Reports with photo’s may help put things into a better perspective and help you better understand some of the issues, than reports without photos. Most people like to see photos.

Hearing that there is exposed electrical connections in the attic can sound quiet scary. Once you see the photos, you can see how easy it may be to fix. Simply adding a $1 electrical J-Box cover may fix the problem.

Will The Inspector Do a Summary At The End Of The Inspection Or Walk Around And Show You Any Significant Issues?

Having the inspector do a short summary may help you better understand what’s important, if anything, or help you decide whether there is anything that you would like to check into further.

Insurance

Inspectors will often carry insurance. They may carry liability insurance incase their ladder falls on a car while they’re looking at the roof or they accidently crack a window when opening it. They may also carry E&O insurance should they miss an important item that they should have reported or if they get sued because of a frivolous lawsuit.

Does The Inspector Have a Website – Go To It !

Most home inspectors have a website. Take a few minutes and surf the site, and you will probably learn more about the inspector, his experiences and credentials.

Has the Inspector Inspected Homes Like Yours In The Area

Inspectors may only inspect certain type of properties or may inspect many types; i.e. condo’s, mobile or manufactured homes, log cabins, single family residences. Is the home you are buying, one that the inspector has experience in inspecting? Satisfy yourself that he inspects structures like the one you’re buying on a regular bases.

Speak With the Inspector

 

Most of us prefer to work with someone that we like or feel comfortable with. When there is a comfortableness between two people, the more easily information flows. If you don’t feel comfortable; consider finding an inspector that you do feel comfortable with.

If The Seller Or Agent Has Disclosed A Problem – Will the Inspector Look At It?

At times the seller or agent may have made disclosure about issues with the home being purchased. If there is something in the disclosure(s) that is not clear or that you want more information about, then is this something that the inspector will look at during his inspection? Don’t be afraid to ask him if he will or if it is within his ”Scope of Work.” Inspectors are happy to answer this for you.

The Bottom Line

You have a lot at stake, so take your time and pick a good inspector. The home inspector is one of the most critical persons in your purchase of a home. He provides a tremendous amount of information about the True Condition of the home you’re buying. No one want’s to buy a “Money Pit.”

Do yourself a favor and pick a good inspector, even if you pay a few extra dollars.