There’s no doubt: when buying a house or selling a home, you will find yourself dealing with a home inspector. And you better! A home inspector can provide insight and information that saves everyone’s time, money and potential headaches. Home inspectors with home inspection certification are generally qualified to determine the condition of a property’s structural integrity, its sale and rebuild value, and the likelihood for future damages due to either improper construction, natural disasters or deterioration over time. Selecting a home inspector also helps to detect the presence of mold, radon, and other harmful household toxins. Beware, however, when selecting a home inspector, of shady and under-qualified home inspectors; unfortunately, homeowners discover the hard way that there are several of them out there.
With that in mind, our team at RealEstateAgent.com decided to write an article about things to be on the lookout for, when selecting a home inspector. Here we go!
Licensed and Certified
Does the person in charge of your house inspection have the apt home inspection certification?
Make sure that your home inspector is licensed and certified by the state where their services are being offered. Certain states – like California – do not require special licensing or certification for a house inspection, leaving the field open to undereducated and downright dishonest people. While a home inspection certification or license does not guarantee professional and accurate inspections, it is an indication of the minimum acceptable level of education required to perform the services of a home inspector. Finding a professional with a home inspection certification is possible through the American Society of Home Inspectors, The National Association of Home Inspectors, or by simply asking your real estate agent. They are accustomed to working alongside home inspectors and will not vouch for people that are not professionals; it’s their commission on the line.
But if you’re going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route or if you didn’t like the ones your real estate agent introduced you to, do you know who else you should talk to when selecting a home inspector? Friends and neighbors. They might have an experience with someone they can recommend and help you expand your pool of names. It’s a good idea doing that, especially because of the next item on our list…
Experience Is Essential
Not only does a lengthy business history show credibility; it signifies a level of operational knowledge that is only obtained through hands-on experience. Just being a member of the American Society or the National Association is not enough: you can find people that are there for one year only or even the other way around; you overlook someone who’s really seasoned in the house inspection business just because that person only became a member a few months ago.
And that’s why talking to friends and (especially) neighbors is important: spending several years inspecting homes in the same area can allow a home inspector to cultivate a wealth of locally specific insight. This foresight can offer unique perspectives and allow your home inspector to find regionally common flaws or risks that the new (and outsider) guy may not notice. Asking around your neighbors with similar houses to your house could help with locating a trustworthy home inspection company that knows the ropes in your region.
Continued Education is Key
Hiring a licensed and certified home inspector with a decade or more of experience in your town will undoubtedly increase the chances of an accurate and helpful house inspection report, but the true test of an inspector’s worth is their commitment to keeping up with industry standards and new property risk evaluation information. Right now we’re going through a lot of changes on construction, with 3D Printed Homes and new technologies like solar panels that profoundly affects the way a housing structure “behaves”. So experience is as important as curiosity and desire to be constantly learning and keeping track of new “ways” to build – but also to inspect. With new smart home devices popping up by the minute, new tools are also becoming available to perfect and expedite an inspection; so be sure your inspector is not stuck in time.
Partnership Makes Perfect
When you’re buying or selling your property, you can rely on your real estate agent to provide a recommendation for reliable home inspection services in your area. If you don’t have a real estate agent on your side yet, try searching for one using The OFFICIAL Real Estate Agent Directory®. It’s 100% Free and nationwide. You’ll be able to find the right local real estate agent for you with just a few clicks and this real estate agent can recommend a trustworthy inspector for your next property evaluation.
That’s great and all… but what if you managed to land at different recommendations that meet the necessary requirements and now you need to understand which one is the real deal? Well, here are some things you could ask:
How long does a house inspection take?
Or rather, their house inspection takes. Of course, it varies according to the square footage of the house, but it usually takes about 3 hours. Some home inspectors advertise they can do it under that time and you should be wary of this. A house inspection is something very important that can make or break a sale, so total focus and time to analyze are important here. No room for mistakes!
For a house inspection sample
It’s difficult for a home inspector to let you accompany him/her to an inspection – it’s someone else’s house, after all – but you could ask to see a finished product of his/her work. There’s no “right size” to a house inspection report, but if the house inspection report is only a few pages long… maybe look for another professional. We believe a 20 to 40 pages long report with colored pictures of the details that need fixing (or don’t!) is what you should look for. And it needs to have a clean professional presentation in a language that any homeowner can understand.
If they recommend a contractor
Because if they do; maybe don’t do it with them. Prefer the ones who say they rather not, because recommending a contractor to fix the problems encountered in the inspection report is a conflict of interest. Imagine this: the guy has a contractor buddy and to each bogus problem he finds at the house and refers to him, he gets a share of the profit. So, that’s a good test of professionalism right there.
If they charge for another inspection
Some states have no specific rules regarding that, so when selecting a home inspector is a good idea to ask if – should something need fixing – they will charge for the visit to check if it was properly fixed and sign a new house inspection report. If the guy does the visit and the correction on the report out of courtesy, maybe go with him… but, whatever the case is, fix it and have a new house inspection report! Don’t be stubborn and end up settling for much less on your house’s fair market value.
Selecting a home inspector is not an easy task, but after reading this article we hope you realized it’s not rocket science either.