How to choose a home inspector
Home inspections aren’t just for buyers these days. As a matter of fact, 99 percent of our selling clients last year performed a pre-inspection on their home before putting it on the market. By pre-inspecting a home, the seller not only identifies any serious issues that should be addressed, but they also help to bulletproof the sale of their home by eliminating the chance of any big surprises once they go under contract and go through inspections. The benefits of a pre-inspection could be a column topic all by itself, so let’s stick to the first question.
How do you choose a home inspector?
I truly feel home inspectors get a bad rap. I am not saying that there aren’t some less than favorable home inspectors out there. As with my own industry, it is not hard to become a home inspector. Easy entrance into a job field means that you have do do your due diligence to ensure that you find a competent and professional inspector.
The home inspection is one of the most crucial steps in a home purchase or in home preparation for the market. Therefore, you have to do your best to find an inspector with experience who is also learning-based. You don’t just want someone who does the minimum.
Here are some helpful questions to ask inspectors as you are interviewing them:
1. Are you a member of a professional inspector’s organization? In my opinion, any inspector worth his salt is a member of one of these national organizations: the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI). These organizations have minimum standard education requirements and also maintain a code of ethics of some sort. Being a member does not guarantee that your inspector is a rock star, it is just a good place to start.
2. How much experience do you have? Everyone has to be new once, I just don’t know if you want to roll the dice with a brand new inspector when it comes to the sale of your home or the purchase of your new home. I have found that the best inspectors tend to have a background in some sort of industry that would support them being a good inspector. Builders, general contractors, electricians, and engineers can all become good inspectors.
3. What will you inspect? Make sure that the things that concern you will be covered in the inspection. Any good inspector should be very clear on what they inspect and what they don’t.
4. How long do your inspections generally take? This is a good question if for nothing else to help budget your time. I have been the victim (and, yes, I mean victim) of a few four-hour inspections before. Unless you are inspecting a mansion, a home inspection should never take four hours. There is a difference between detailed and slow. The average home inspection takes about two to three hours. That is unless you use a bigger company who brings out more than one inspector on the same home. In that case, it can take one to two hours. More than one inspector is actually my preference. Two sets of eyes is better than one and it is a more efficient use of my client’s time.
5. What kind of report do you provide? Okay, so here is where my personal preference will come in to play. I believe that every inspector should be able to provide you with an electronic copy of your inspection (PDF or Word Doc) including photos within 24 hours of the inspection. Time is of the essence when you are working within a ten-day inspection period. You don’t want to spend any of that time waiting for your inspection report. There are some old school inspectors out there who still hand write their inspection reports. Just like there are still Realtors out there who refuse to use online contracts and digital signatures with their clients. But is that choice about the client needs and providing efficient service, or is it about the Realtor’s preference? I would say it is the former. The same applies to inspectors. Today’s buyers expect their information ASAP and in a clean digital format with color photos. And I for one believe they deserve it.