Be Choosy When Choosing The Right Home Inspector
You’ve searched and searched, but now the search is finally over – you’ve just made a serious offer on your dream home, and even you’re spouse agrees wholeheartedly that this is the abode to settle down in for many years to come.
In fact, your passion for your new castle-to-be may be so strong that you either forget about the necessity of having a home inspection performed, or ignore it altogether. One part of your brain may want to just put the notion out of sight – the possibility of finding out that your enchanting residence-to-be has hidden faults might be too much to take, and you definitely don’t want to begin your search anew. After all, you reason, a home this beautiful and charming couldn’t possibly have anything wrong with it.
Alas, the other part of your brain (the logical side) convinces you that you’d be foolish not to order a professional home inspection. In fact, most home buyers specify, in order to protect themselves, that the purchase contract contain a contingency clause stating that there is no obligation for the buyer to fulfill the terms of the contract if the home inspection yields less-than-satisfactory results.
As you have probably guessed, a thorough, systematic home inspection requires the services of a professional home inspector. But, exactly how do you go about selecting a home inspector, and what constitutes a good one versus a not-so-good one?
First, it’s important to note that not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed. However, for the ones that do, it’s reassuring to know that in order to obtain a license, applicants are required to either complete an approved training regimen, pass a stringent examination via the state’s licensing board, or both. Some states also stipulate that the renewal of one’s license is contingent upon completing continuing education courses.
- Thus, in addition to making sure the home inspector is licensed (if the state requires it), there are some guidelines that are helpful to follow before selecting one:Professionalism: One of the best ways to determine if a home inspector is truly professional is to check on his credentials above and beyond licensing. Definitely pick one who is affiliated with any of the major professional organizations dealing with the home inspection field. Two of the most respected ones include the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) — the industry’s oldest and most respected professional association, according to many real estate professionals. In order to be a member of this organization, the home inspector must pass strict technical exams, meet specific standards of practice, and abide by a code of ethics.
- Interview several home inspectors before you’ve actually located the home you want. That way, you won’t be scrambling to find an inspector as the time to sign the contract gets ever so close.
- Referrals: Asking a friend — who was satisfied with the service they received from a particular home inspector — for a recommendation can often guide you to someone who is competent. Real estate agents are also good sources for recommendations. They are in close contact with many inspectors due to the nature of their work, and they already know who the best ones are, as well as the one’s who are lacking in professionalism. It’s wise, though, to get advise from an agent other than the one representing you. Otherwise, there could be a possible conflict of interest.
- Thoroughness: Try to find an inspector who has a reputation as being detail-oriented, possesses a scrutinizing nature, and doesn’t overlook the little problems a home may be hiding.
- Experience: Always insist on hiring an inspector with a certain level of experience. Although education and training are vital ingredients of a home inspector’s overall resume, it is crucial in this field to come equipped with a certain amount of on-the-job experience. A good rule of thumb is to look for an inspector with at least fifteen years of combined training/education and actual work experience. He or she will ideally have been cross-trained in disciplines involving all systems of a typical residential home. Also choose someone who does this kind of work full-time, not as a sideline endeavor.
- Insurance: A competent home inspector will be covered by a general liability insurance, and errors and omissions insurance policy.
- Know beforehand exactly what the inspection will include. For example, get specifics on any specialized testing which will be performed.
- Make sure the inspector specializes in residential home inspections.
- Choose an inspector who encourages his clients to be present during the entire process. This can be a valuable learning experience for you. One who doesn’t allow this should be avoided.
- Price: Let this be the least imperative factor when evaluating an inspector’s criteria. You have too much at stake not to choose the inspector you deem to have the best qualifications. Even if hiring a competent, thoroughly qualified inspector costs you a bit more than paying someone with less impressive credentials, your astuteness will likely pay big dividends in the long run.