Tips for Choosing a Home Inspector
Purchasing a home can certainly be a stressful ordeal. To help reduce
the stress of the home purchase process it is important to make sure you
know what you are getting in the purchase. Hiring a home inspector to
review the property before you actually purchase it is a smart move that
can save you money down the road as well as provide much peace of mind.
It is for this very reason that most banks require all properties they
finance to be inspected by a professional home inspector before the
transaction closes. Even if you are not financing your property it is a
good idea to make sure you pay attention to this critical detail on
choosing a home inspector.
Unfortunately, if you are not sure what to look for you could actually
run into problems in the home inspection process itself. Research
indicates that nearly two-thirds of home buyers have their properties
inspected each year. Of that figure, nearly one-third experience
problems with the post-inspection process. If you know how to choose a
home inspector and what questions to ask; however, you can avoid these
First, it is important to understand the exact purpose of the home
inspection. The goal is to provide you with information about problems
in the home before you actually purchase the property. Along these
lines, your home inspector should be looking for potential roof
problems, structural problems, systems problems, fire hazards, etc.
When choosing a home inspector, there are several guidelines to keep in
First, always take the time to research any home inspectors you consider
hiring. Be sure to check his or her credentials and verify whether they
are certified by ASHI or NAHI. It is also a good idea to check on their
experience. Find out how many inspections they have performed and how
long they have been in the business of home inspection. Ideally, only
hire someone who has at least three years of experience and has
performed at least 1,000 inspections.
Also find out whether they are insured and ask to see physical proof of
their insurance coverage before you hire them.
When the time actually comes for the inspection to be performed, make a
point to be there and ask questions about areas that may need repair.
Since inspection do tend to be lengthy, if you cannot be there for the
entire inspection do make a point to be there for at least 30 minutes or
so. Ask questions about any noted repairs and whether they are major or
Be aware that in some cases the home inspector may suggest additional
inspections, such as a pest inspection, which is not covered under a
regular inspection. Always ask whether the inspector suspects a more
serious problem and why further inspections are being suggested.
Always ask to see the final inspection report. The report itself should
be easy to understand and thorough. Ideally, the report should be at
least 20 pages in length and should contain color photographs and should
cover problem areas in detail.
Remember that as with any profession, when hiring a home inspector you
will find unqualified as well as qualified individuals who call
themselves professionals. It is relatively easy for anyone now to print
some business cards and identify themselves as whatever they wish. This
means you must make an extra effort to verify their credentials in order
to protect yourself.
Before you hire anyone, always make a point of asking how long the
inspector estimates the inspection will take. On average a thorough home
inspection should take at least three hours. In some cases, such as if
the home is quite large, the inspection could take even longer. If an
inspector says he can perform you inspection in less time than that, be
wary and look for someone else.
Always make a point to ask the home inspector if there will be an
additional charge for a re-inspection. The point of a re-inspection is
to ensure that noted repairs have been corrected by the seller after the
first inspection. Generally, an inspector will verify the repair without
charging for an additional visit as a courtesy. Remember that if you do
not opt for a re-inspection and instead opt to simply accept the
seller's word that the repair was corrected you could find yourself with
a big problem later on. It is always better to have a re-inspection
performed to verify the repair.
Finally, always ask about Errors and Omissions insurance. This type of
insurance protects you in the event a mistake is made by the home
inspector. Be aware; however, that liability for the mistake is
typically limited to the amount of the inspection fee.