Choosing the right home inspector can be a daunting task, especially if you have never hired one before. When you are finished with this article you should know what questions to ask when interviewing prospective inspectors.
Since all licensed inspectors are required to adhere to the same standards, many people believe all home inspectors are equal. Nothing could be further from the truth. If two inspectors were to inspect the same house, the inspection reports and findings could be quite different. Simply stated, some inspectors try harder, are more experienced, and are more thorough than others. For example, some inspectors examine the roof by walking on it, climb up into the attic and into crawl spaces under the house while others don’t. Which is why you should attend your inspection, to make sure the inspector is doing their job. Here are some other factors you should consider when choosing the right home inspector:
Home Inspectors Licensing- Verify the inspector is properly licensed. Most states require home inspectors to be licensed, check with your state’s real estate board to find out.
The Blue Spruce Maids Experience- It may surprise you to learn that anyone can become a licensed home inspector, and in very little time. While experience in the construction industry is very helpful, it is not required. This may change in the future, but as of now, a person just has to attend the required hours at an approved home inspection school and pass the state home inspection test and they are considered a professional home inspector, although they have never inspected a single home in their life. The inspector you hire may be performing their first inspection ever.
Professional Affiliations- Most home inspectors join a professional organization to take advantage of the benefits and sharpen their skills since these organizations also require continuing education hours for membership. Inspectors can also learn from each other at meetings and conventions. Texas Law requires home inspectors to complete 16 hours of approved continued education per year. The most prominent of these associations are ASHI, NAHI, NACHI and TAREI.
Insurance- Texas recently adopted a new law requiring home inspectors to carry a minimum of $100,000 of professional liability insurance. This is required at license renewal, so at this time, some Texas home inspectors may not carry it yet.
Ask to see a sample of the inspector’s report – This should give you an idea of how thorough the inspections are and if the inspector includes pictures of defects. Most inspectors use computer generated reports and some post them on their website for you to review, or he or she can email you a copy.
Should I Choose an Inspector Referred by a Realtor? – That really depends on how much trust you place in your agent. Some agents want you to use an inspector who does a quick inspection and writes basically nothing in the reports so the transaction goes through fast and easy. More professional agents want you to have the best inspection possible, after all it’s their reputation on the line when they make referrals. If you are unsure if you should let the agent choose the home inspector for you or not, then seek out your own.
Don’t Choose the Cheapest Inspector – Please believe me when I make that statement. I get calls from potential clients daily. Many times price is the first question they ask about. I don’t think it’s because people are cheap, I think it’s because they don’t know what else to ask. While I understand that no one wants to pay more than they have to, you do get what you pay for. The cheapest inspectors are usually new, inexperienced, or ones performing inspections as a sideline. I know of one customer who was determined to hire the cheapest inspector she could find. After the sale she discovered her insurance company would not insure her roof because the shingles were installed over old wooden shingles, which were clearly visible from the attic. She wound up paying for a whole new roof (about $6,000), all because she tried to save a mere $25.00 in inspection fees. The average cost of a home inspection in the USA is $380.00 (USA Today… Friday, January 13,2006)
Here is a list of questions I’ve put together for you which you can use when interviewing potential home inspectors:
1. How long have you had your license and been inspecting homes?
2. Do you carry Errors and Omissions (E & O) insurance?
3. On average, how long does it take you to perform a typical home inspection? Through inspectors will take about three hours on a typical home.
4. How long does it take for me to get my inspection report back from you in electronic format?
5. Are you a member of a professional association?
6. Do you perform re-inspections on repaired items? If so, for how much?
7. Do you mind if I follow along while you inspect? Your inspector works for you and should allow you to learn as much about the house as possible.
8. What is your inspection fee? If the inspection fee seems too low, you may not get a thorough inspection.
9. Do you have any references I can speak to?