5 Areas to Focus on When Hiring a Home Inspector
Finding the right home inspector requires some research. When you’ve found the home of your dreams you want to make sure that it really is as wonderful as you think.
Years ago, home inspections weren’t a part of residential real estate transactions; buyers simply relied on their own impressions of the home and whatever the seller’s real estate agent told them. Today’s buyers are more cautious, and an inspection ordered by the buyer is a regular part of the real estate purchase process. Spending the fees for a home inspection can be well worth it both for peace of mind and the potential cost of trouble avoided.
Your real estate agent should be able to recommend several well-qualified home inspectors. You can also ask friends and family for advice. Once you have your list, it’s time to narrow down your home inspector candidates. Here are five areas to focus on.
Ask open-ended questions about the inspector’s training and experience as it relates to home inspections. The inspector should have some training in construction and building maintenance standards and a track record of experience in the home inspection business. Depending on the location and age of the home, you may need to hire an inspector who is qualified to deal with asbestos, lead-based paint or other potentially hazardous substances. In some areas you may also need to hire a geologist or structural engineer. Ask the inspector which components of the property are included in his or her inspection.
2. Sample reports
Ask the inspector to provide a sample of his or her checklist or inspection report so you can evaluate it. Is the information presented and explained clearly and completely? Are there notes and explanations or just a series of checkboxes? A longer report is more beneficial in the long run than a simple checklist. Does the report highlight any problems that could present a safety hazard?
Ask the inspector for the names and telephone numbers of several homeowners who have used his or her services. Call those people and ask them whether they were satisfied with the report and other services they received. Be sure to talk to some people who have owned their home for a few months or longer. Some problems overlooked by an inspection can take a while to surface. You may also want to do an online search and read reviews. Many home inspectors are listed on Yelp.com where you can read reviews and experiences from people who have used their services.
Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors and membership in one of these groups should not be your sole evaluation criteria. However, all else being equal, an association membership is often a plus. These groups provide their members with training and certification programs and up-to-date information about industry practices and inspection standards. Look for membership in the National Association of Home Inspectors, the National Institute of Building Inspectors, and the American Society of Home Inspectors.
5) Errors and omissions insurance
Even top-notch inspectors are only human and can make errors or overlook problems they probably should have noticed. Ask about the company’s policy in such situations. Does the company have insurance for errors and omissions? Does the company or individual inspector stand behind the report? Is there any sort of guarantee and how long does it last for? Many companies ask customers to sign a waiver limiting the company’s liability to the cost of the inspection.