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Home > Home Buying Tips > Tips for Choosing a Home Inspector

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 problems.

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 mind:

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 minor.

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.


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