Home Inspection Companies
Choose An Inspector With
Buying a home will likely be the largest investment you will ever make. Consequently, it is very important to choose wisely when selecting your Home Inspector. Direct, "hands-on" experience in building is one of the most important criteria to look for. For instance, a house cannot be dismantled during an inspection, so it is important to have someone with the experience and background who doesn’t have to disassemble a wall to know what’s inside and how it’s put together. A house is made of many different components and systems that are all inter-related and are all supposed to work together. Many of these are hidden from view, and cannot be directly viewed. It is important to choose an inspector who has experience in home-building, from the ground up, and has been involved in the installation and layout of these systems.
Don’t be confused by Home Inspector "certifications" obtained through quick study courses (sometimes two weeks or less), or sold through trade organizations. It takes many years of experience and training to develop the necessary skills and insight needed to be a good Home Inspector.
Experience, Experience, Experience
Check into how long the Inspector has been in the business, and how many Home Inspections he has performed. There is no equivalent to experience!Do you really want someone inspecting your house who is doing this "part-time", or has only been performing inspections for a year or two?
Be Sure To Obtain A Written Report
Be sure that your Home Inspector provides a detailed written report, not a hand written checklist with stock responses that is given to you at the end of the inspection. A checklist can be difficult to interpret and to read, and may be void of many of the details and advice you need. A step up from this is a computer-generated report, which offers a combination of the checklist and a narrative reporting formats, and which includes specific comments to each home.
An Inspection Report should encompass three basic areas:
Overview – A detailed picture of the house on the day of the inspection, itemizing all the major components and their condition.
Maintenance Items – A listing of items in need of normal maintenance or attention. This list will allow you to be pro-active in your approach to home maintenance, and hopefully, minimize your risk of being blind-sided by an unexpected expense you could have been saving for, if you had known about it.
Major Repair Items – This is any defect with the potential to present a significant expense to you, in the near term. These items should be clearly identified, with estimated repair/replacement costs (if possible).
The Inspection and Report should give you the information that you, as the buyer, need to make an informed decision about your new purchase.
For more info on what you should expect during a Home Inspection, see What Is A Home Inspection?.
Professional Affiliations & Certifications
Be sure that the Inspector you retain has professional affiliations and certifications through nationally recognized organizations such as NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists), etc. This information will help to give you insight into the background, and depth of industry involvement of the Inspector you plan to hire.
What Type Of Equipment Will Be Used?
Many Home Inspectors bring nothing more to the Inspection than a flashlight. Today’s Home Inspector though, should be taking advantage of some of the newer technologies being introduced, and fully utilizing the best testing equipment available. This equipment is delicate and can be very expensive, but in order to stay on "the cutting edge" and provide the best service possible, it is a necessary investment. Proper equipment should range from the more sophisticated testing devices (electrical circuit analyzers, electronic carbon monoxide & fuel gas analyzers, digital moisture meters, digital cameras to document findings, etc.), all the way down to the more mundane but necessary equipment, such as ladders, flashlights, levels, etc.
Why is price last on the list? It is important to ask yourself this question… "Do you really want to go bargain hunting for the Inspector who will do the job for the least amount of money?" -or- "Is it important to hire the most qualified?" Of course one should always try to be budget conscious, but when hiring a Home Inspector, you should always search for the most qualified and most experienced person you can find. What is a $25 or $50 difference in price compared to your potential exposure if, due to inexperience, your "low budget" inspector overlooks an expensive defect? On balance, you will find that hiring the best doesn’t cost, it pays!