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.

How to Find a Good Home Inspector

Buying a home, to most of us, is often an expensive, scary endeavor. Even for seasoned, experienced home-buyers, the process is typically not without some degree of trepidation and apprehension. Much of that apprehension has to do with the physical condition of the property…whether or not the house is in reasonably good condition…whether the house is really as good as it looks or is a money-pit just waiting to steal your money away in the form of unanticipated repairs and expenses.

Enter the Inspector…the guy, or gal, that will give the home a thorough assessment and report to you on its physical condition so that you can make an informed purchase decision. How are you going to effectively track down and choose a good, professional Inspector? Well, there are a few time-proven strategies:

  • You might ask your family, friends, and neighbors if they’ve had any really positive experience with any particular Home Inspector. If they have, they’ll likely share that with you…and if they’ve had a bad experience, well, you’ll probably learn about that. too.
  • You could ask your real estate agent for some referrals…but don’t rely on a single recommendation. I suggest asking the agent who they might hire to insect a home if they were the buyer. Or who they think is the most picky inspector; that’s the one you want to hire.
  • Do some on-line research…ask questions in local forums. Check out on-line reviews; if a company has a large number of legitimate and positive reviews, they might be a good potential candidate. But beware, as in other fields, some inspectors write their own reviews; you can usually tell which one those are and they should be avoided.

Some other general tips are:

  • Don’t rely on the fact that an individual possesses a state license or local business permit as any proof whatsoever that they are either overly professional or at all competent…often, that means almost nothing.
  • Look for an individual that’s affiliated with a prominent and leading national Home Inspector organization…one that maintains high entry and membership standards such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); active membership in such an organization is, often, a good indication of a Home Inspectors commitment to professionalism.
  • Search for complaints against the Inspector and their company…Consult the Better Business Bureau to determine if the potential Home Inspector is an accredited member company and whether or not they have any unresolved complaints against them

Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to 3 -5 potential candidates, you need to contact each of those and ask them some direct, and pointed, questions. And here is where you don’t want to shy or timid in your approach.

  • Please, will you talk to me? If a Home Inspector doesn’t answer their phone or return your initial phone call in a timely manner, then move on. If an inspector can’t, or won’t, make and take time to answer you questions now, then there is good likelihood they can’t, or won’t, answer them later.
  • How good are you and how long have you been doing this? If an inspector doesn’t exude confidence, move on. Likewise, if an inspector doesn’t have a significant amount of experience under their belt, you might better keep searching. Everyone has to learn sometime…but maybe you don’t want them gaining their basic experience on your home.
  • What kind of report will I receive?…Look for an answer that suggests a narrative style report…or at least a combination narrative/checklist type of report. What you need is a good Home Inspection report that clearly identifies any issues in readily understood language presented in complete and grammatically correct language.
  • How soon will I receive your report? Most professional Home Inspectors will provide their report to you, electronically, within 24 hours of the completion of the Home Inspection and this is what you should expect.Can I be there…with you? It’s important that you be able to attend every moment of your Home Inspection should you desire to do so; the inspection should be a time during which you are able to learn about the house and to get your questions answered. An Inspector who discourages your presence should be avoided at all cost.

Following some basic guidelines, doing specific research, and asking some pointed question of potential Home Inspectors will go far in helping you find a good Home Inspector and, hopefully, a good experience with that Inspector.

Happy Hunting!

Tips on Finding a Quality Home Inspector

When buying a home, home inspection is a very important step in the home buying process. It is like the home is getting a check-up by a doctor. If anything wrong is found, you can provide the medicine in the form of repairs. If you are unable to have the repairs performed, you simply lower the price of the home to compensate the new owner for having to take on the repairs.

It is important, however, that you find a home inspector who knows how to do their job. You want someone who is thorough so that you know the scope of the repairs that need to be done to the home.

Here are some questions to ask in order to find a home inspector who will get the job done right:

• What kind of training have you had? The answer to this question should include some sort of training. You don’t want just anyone who calls themselves a home inspector. You can ask if he or she is a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors or any other professional association.

• What kind of experience do you have? Experience is a good thing, although there are some newer inspectors that are great. That’s when you really focus on the training question. Experience will be evident because the inspector should know where to find common faults and where to find the components that he or she is to evaluate.

• What is the inspection’s scope? The inspector should have a checklist that they go by. Ask to see this checklist when they arrive at your home so that you have an idea of what they will be looking for. If anything strikes you as “off” you can decline the inspection before it starts.

• Can I be present during the inspection? You want to be present during the inspection so that you know the inspector is using his or her time to inspect the home. This gives you the assurance you need that the inspection is done right. Even though you may be handed a list with few faults, you ant to make sure that all faults are covered because you don’t want to find them later. If you are a seller, you don’t want the buyer coming back to you later. If you are the buyer, you don’t want the hassle.

Once you have your answers to these questions, you will know whether or not you have a quality home inspector to inspect your home or potential home.

Selecting a Good Home Inspector

Nearly everyone dreams of living in a comfortable place. A house that is beautifully designed and safe is what you want. But you may be wondering as to how you know these things and if the home is holding up as it should as it ages. The solution to the feelings of uncertainty is that you need to have a thorough inspection of the entire structure so that you can make your final decision on buying with more information than the sellers disclosure often gives.

First you need to find a good house inspector. The report of that person on the house can have a big impact on your purchase. To help find the perfect inspector to hire ask for recommendations from friends and family. You can ask if they have hired someone before and that they can recommend to help you with what you need. They can give you an honest answer. Not only that, but you may also get the names or the agencies to avoid.

You can also look over the training and experience with the home inspector. You should check if the inspector was able to get a good education and certification with a national association such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (INACHI).

It is also important to know how long the inspector has been an active home inspector. Many inspectors perform home inspections part time and on weekends. Find one who does it full time and have several years of experience.

For more tips on finding a home inspector visit home inspector in Ohio and look for the link for a free video and tips.