How to Hire a Home Inspector

by Kevin on May 24, 2011

Whenever you purchase a new home for your family, you are required to have the structure inspected by a licensed home inspector. A home inspector’s job is to identify broken components, defects, unsafe conditions, or items near the end of their normal service life. The inspection is done to state standards, so your inspector may not look at things you think he or she should look at.

However, a quality home inspection is invaluable. Imaging discovering a serious issue that would cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. We’re talking about finding leaks in roofs with hidden mold in the walls or jury-rigged sink plumbing. Items that you probably wouldn’t notice, but that could be a serious hazard to your — and truthfully, the bank’s — investment.

3 Steps to Hiring a Home Inspector

Having a quality inspection is a key part of buying a home. Here’s a three steps to guide you into finding an inspector that fits the bill.

It is important to note that these steps should be done well in advance of you signing a contract on a house. Most home contracts have stipulations that the home is to be inspected in 10 to 14 days from the date of agreement. If you don’t have an inspector in mind you’ll be scrambling to these steps. You also have to consider the inspector may not be available tomorrow — he needs some lead time to work you into his schedule.

Plan ahead and avoid the pain and anxiety of rushing around at the last minute.

Identify an Inspector

Finding a good inspector can and should be done through a multitude of methods.

1. Google Search: You can do a simple Google search for “home inspector [name of your city]” to see what pops up. Some inspectors will have reviews that Google pulls up and puts under their listing as well.┬áIf your potential inspector has a website, look at it. But don’t be turned away if the website isn’t 100% perfectly designed with a “Web 2.0” feel. His job is not to make fancy webpages. His job is to inspect your house well.

2. Referrals from Trustworthy Sources: Asking family, friends, and co-workers is a great way to identify an inspector. If they had a good experience, you’ve got something to go off of. I would especially be impressed if they said their home inspector kept them from buying a house because he found a hidden serious issue. That’s unfortunate if they loved the house, but a good thing if it saved their investment.

However, you have to be careful here. Not everyone is super picky or knows what they’re doing. Their inspector may have done a bad job and they just brushed it off. Don’t go off of trust alone.

3. Review Sites: There are a large number of review websites out there where anyone can post a review about a company. This is good and bad. The sites can be “gamed” and fake reviews can be put up that praise the company. On the other hand competitors can come in and put false fake reviews. Reviews are a good place to start, but not the only factor to use in your decision.

Interview Your Inspector

Don’t just call him up and ask when he can come out. That’s guaranteed business with no effort. Make your potential inspector earn your business.

Ask questions on his background, his certifications, how long he has been in the business, how many deals he has ruined due to finding serious issues, and what types of services he offers. Some inspectors offer Radon testing or thermal imaging at additional cost.

Check His References

Once you’ve made your selection, let the inspector know the job isn’t his until he provides references from recent customers. Ask for three references: two happy customers, and one unhappy customer (or someone that had a deal fall through due to his inspection). Just getting all the positive feedback doesn’t give you the full picture of past experience from his customers.

Schedule the Inspection

Once you’ve made your selection, schedule the inspection. Make sure it is at a time where you and your agent can be present, or at least at a time that you can come toward the end to go over his findings. Your inspector should walk you around the home and point out what he found and where he found it. It is a lot easier to make a determination if you can see the defect with your own eyes. (Your inspector should also provide a PDF report with good photos to share with you and your agent, as well.)

{ 1 comment }

Crystal June 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I wish I had seen this 5 years ago – your posts are so informative! The home inspector we hired to check out the first house we made an offer on missed BLACK MOLD that covered a whole wall in the attic! Thankfully, my mom has a great nose and tracked it down. We ended up with a great house, but not due to that cruddy inspector.

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