Following these simple steps, you can help to ensure that you are making the right choice when selecting a Home Inspector.
When it is time for you to start looking for a Home Inspector, where can you find a list of qualified companies from which to choose? You might want to ask your Realtor, Banker, or Attorney for a list of names. Otherwise you can ask friends or co-workers, or check out the online directories of top national organizations such ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), CAHPI (Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors), PHPIC (Provincial Home and Property Inspectors of Canada) for a listing of Inspectors in your area.
After you have a list of names from which to choose, grab a pen and paper and start making some phone calls. Don’t be afraid to ask the “tough” questions. A legitimate Home Inspection Company will appreciate that you are being careful when making your choices, while a marginal one may become defensive. Remember, not all inspectors and their qualifications are created equal!
1, Choose An Inspector With Top Qualifications
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 sciences is one of the more important criteria to have. 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.
2. Experience, Experience, Experience
Check into how long the Inspector has been in the business, and how many Home Inspections he has performed (personally). 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?
3. 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 these basic components for all comments:
LOCATION: The physical location of the noted condition as reported by the inspector.
CONDITION: A description of the observation, phrased to reflect a statement of deficiency.
EXPLANATION: A description of the nature of the deficiency.
IMPACT OR CONSEQUENCES: A description of impact of the condition to the homeowner based on the system or component not meeting its intended function.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: The inspectors opinion for action by the homeowner. Action statements may include: Repair, Replace, Review, Monitor, Consult Specialist: the nature of an observation is such that the services or opinion of a specialist is required to ascertain cause, effect, and/or remedial action for the specific condition. The inspector defers opinions of the condition to that of an expert or specialist with appropriate qualifications, training, and knowledge of the noted condition to provide advise to the client.
The Inspection and Report should give you the information that you, as the buyer, need to make an informed decision about your new purchase.
4. Professional Affiliations & Certifications
Be sure that the Inspector you retain has professional affiliations and certifications through nationally recognized organizations such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), CAHPI (Canadian Association of Home and Property), NHICC (National Home Inspection Certification Council), PHPIC (Provincial Home and Property Inspectors of Canada), etc. This information will help to give you insight into the background, and depth of industry involvement of the Inspector you plan to hire.
5. 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 testers, 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!