When you’ve found a home inspector you think you’d like to hire, put him on the spot. You’ve got a lot at stake. Interview him and give him the chance to tell you why you should choose him. Here are some questions you can ask him.
Is he or she certified by the proper state, county, or city agencies? Does he have the appropriate license and credentials for where you live? It would be a good idea if you can find out what’s required and where to go to find out about the inspector you’re considering. Your state may be able to track your inspector’s continuing education as well as any complaints that have been filed against him.
What trade associations does he or she belong to and is he in good standing with them? What certificates does he or she have? A few organizations for home inspectors include the International Code Council, American Society of Home Inspectors, Independent Home Inspectors of North America, and the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Each state has organizations for home inspectors as well.
What’s his educational background? Does he keep up to date with the changes in the industry, including changing laws or codes? Does he have a background in home construction? Does he have a wealth of knowledge about building trades or remodeling? What did he do before becoming an inspector?
Does he have a background as a contractor or engineer? Keep this in mind. Though it’s not necessary for your inspector to have an engineering degree or to have been a contractor for many years, the principles he should have learned from such an education and experience are valuable.
How many years of experience does he have inspecting homes? How many has he inspected?
Is he a full time inspector? Avoid someone who does inspections part time or only on weekends. You don’t want someone who’s been an inspector for five or ten years, but only on a part-time basis. Home inspection should be his primary business. Has he examined homes similar to the one you’re having inspected? All homes have similarities, but newer homes have different issues and risks than older homes.
Does his/her company carry errors and omission (E&O) insurance?
Does he get on roofs when possible? Does he get in crawlspaces when they’re accessible? Will he go into the basement, and climb into the attic? He should be capable and willing to go wherever he needs to for doing a thorough inspection. Granted, there may be times when it’s not possible to fully inspect all of these areas, due to physical risks to the inspector or his equipment, or weather conditions may not permit it. But it’s not acceptable to overlook these because he doesn’t want to or has some other excuse.
Will he let you go with him while he does the inspection? It’s generally recommended that you do go with him because he can answer any questions you have. If you’re buying the home, it helps if you have confidence in the inspector’s performance and the condition of the home. Of course, you must not hinder or distract him. Don’t get near any open electric areas, and you shouldn’t get on the roof with him due to safety concerns.
What kind of report will you get from him? When and how will you get it? Make sure you have plenty of time to respond to his findings. Will the report include pictures? Photographs make any defects or damage clear, especially in areas mainly accessible to the inspector. Pictures are helpful for any service and repair workers who may be needed later.
What will the inspection cost? Your inspector’s fee will vary depending on several factors, such as where the home is located and the home’s size. Other factors may include the home’s age and the need for septic, well or radon testing. No matter how important the cost is to you, don’t cut corners. The cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether to get the home inspected. The sense of security and knowledge you gain from an inspection is well worth the cost. The lowest-priced inspection may not a bargain.
If the home has proven to be in good condition when the inspector gives you his report, you may be asking yourself if the inspection was necessary. The answer is definitely Yes. You wouldn’t have known what you know about the home otherwise, and you can now complete your sale or purchase with confidence and peace of mind.