Most of us only need a home inspector a few times in our life. Ask your REALTOR® for names of inspectors with a good reputation in the industry, for fair and accurate reporting. Ask your friends, co-workers, and family for referrals and recommendations. Then take a few minutes to make a couple of calls.
You may have other questions, but here are a few to get you started so you feel confident in your choice of a home inspector.
1. What Will You Inspect? What Does the Inspection Cover?
Electric, plumbing, and structural? What about targeting areas of concern like fireplaces, HVAC, or the roof? Make sure you understand the inspectors scope of practice, or the degree to which he will inspect the systems of the home. In other words, he probably won’t light the pilot light on the hot water heater, but will he run the dishwasher?
2. How Many Years of Experience Do You Have?
Your home inspector should be able to tell you his history in the profession, and perhaps provide referrals if you ask. Remember that “new” doesn’t mean “not qualified.” Your new inspector has probably received the latest training, or he has an experienced partner to assist. Just gauge his confidence in himself, and your confidence in his answer.
3. Are Other Inspection Services Available?
You may want to obtain a radon inspection, or a wood boring insect inspection. Lead based paint may be a concern if the home was built before 1979. Ask your inspector for direction on those items of concern.
4. Have You Completed a Certification Program?
Be sure your home inspector is a certified ASHI member, or another similar, professional society with membership requirements. The American Society of Home Inspectors is the largest, oldest, and most well known society of inspectors, with a common goal of customer service, and promoting the importance of a quality inspection.
5. How Much Time Does the Inspection Take?
Generally, a home inspection is a 2 – 3 hour process. This much time is necessary to do a truly complete inspection of a “typical” home. Ask your inspector how much time he allows per home.
6. How Much Do You Charge?
Costs will vary from one area of the country to the next. Ask your Realtor ® what to expect, price-wise, and then gauge the answers from there. Expect approximately $350 to $600, depending on the size of the home. It is money well spent when you consider the overall price of your home, and that you now have a better understanding of what you are buying.
7. Do You Mind If I Attend The Inspection?
This is your investment, and your opportunity to get to know the home. No home is perfect. All homes have “quirks.” You need to be there. If the home inspector hesitates, or discourages you from attending, call someone else!
8. What Type of Report Do You Provide & When Will I Receive It?
Some home inspectors take photos, others do not. You may not find that to be necessary if you attend the inspection. Some inspectors use a checklist, and write in a few notes. Others go back to their office and provide a narrative report via email the next day. There is no right or wrong answer to the question. You just need to know what to expect, and when to expect it.
9. Will You Offer Me Tips, Or Point Out Maintenance Items?
Your home inspector should know why he is there. Remember, this is not the opportunity to “nit pick,” presenting a demand list of minor repairs to a seller. This is not the time to discuss cosmetic errors, and maintenance items, holding the seller hostage to numerous “nickel and dime” fixes. Some inspectors, in an effort to serve the customer, will cross the line and start to give advice about how to negotiate the contract for the repairs. Smile, Nod, and walk away. This is not within their scope of practice.
Your inspection is to determine the physical material condition of the home, uncover hidden defects, and give you the opportunity to request repairs of the seller.
But a good home inspector will be able to point out a few items that could use attention, and offer suggestions for maintenance to keep your home in tip top shape. That’s good advice to take, so be sure to take notes if it’s not included in a “tips” portion of the final report.