Inspecting a Home Inspector – What Should You Expect in a Home Inspector

You’ve decided you need a home inspector because you’re either buying a home or selling one, and you want to do it right. Out of curiosity you sit down at the computer and do a Google search to see what qualifications a good home inspector should have, and you get a little scared.

The first thing you see is a group of ads for home inspection courses. You’ve heard of people buying bogus college degrees online, but can Joe Anybody become a home inspector the same way? The image of a TV commercial comes to mind. You know, the one where the doctor is on the phone talking a guy through an operation. No thanks!

So, how do you find a truly qualified home inspector? The first thing to try is to ask trusted friends or business acquaintances for their recommendations. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good “word of mouth” lead. Requirements vary from state to state and place to place, so you need to find a good local inspector. Save the bulk of your computer research for checking out the names you’ve been given.

You need an inspector who literally knows houses inside and out and is thoroughly acquainted with state, county, and city regulations. Start asking questions. Interview each prospective home inspector. Let him inform you by describing the inspections he does and why he thinks you should choose him. Here’s a list of possible questions you could ask.

* Is he certified by the proper state, county, or city agencies? What license number does he have? His license number is a great way to know how long he has been in business. The lower the license number, the longer he has been in business. Check to see if he displays his license number on his website.

* What trade associations does he or she belong to and what certificates does he or she have? (For instance, the American Society of Home Inspectors is an excellent organization. There are organizations in each state as well.)

* What’s his educational background? Does he keep up to date with the changes in the industry?

* How many years of experience does he have inspecting homes, and how many has he inspected?

* Does he have a background as a contractor or engineer? (It’s not necessary for an inspector to have an engineering degree or to have been a contractor for twenty years, but the principles learned from such education and experience are valuable.)

* Is he a full time inspector?

* May you accompany him when he does the inspection? (This is typically recommended, but you must not hinder or distract the inspector. You should not get near any open electric areas or get on the roof with him due to safety concerns.)

* How long will the inspection take? (The average is one hour per thousand square feet, but this can vary depending on the house and those who are present.)

* Does the inspector get on roofs when possible? Does he get in crawlspaces when they’re accessible?

* What kind of report will you receive, and when will you receive it? (Most home inspection companies offer onsite reports. Many will provide a preventive maintenance manual as well.)

Here are a couple more guidelines to consider. You should shy away from inspectors who criticize their competition. Don’t go with the lowest price. Go with the one with the best qualifications.

Incidentally, the cost of inspection services is highly variable. It depends on the level of experience of the inspector and the level of services provided. Cost is also determined in part by the size and value of the property inspected. An inspection of an eight thousand square foot home will cost more than one for a two thousand square foot home.

The inspector you’re looking for needs to have an understanding of basic construction practices and mechanical systems. He should understand how buildings are constructed and how the systems work. A good inspector will have a talent for making observations which provide indications of problems or potential problems. This talent comes from years of experience in inspecting homes.

Of course, the inspector must have the skills necessary to issue the inspection report. After all, that’s what you’re hiring him to do for you.

How to Find and Hire a Competent Home Inspector

Chapter 1: Getting Started and Taking Control

Professional Associations

Before you can even begin to contact and compare home inspection companies, your first goal is to secure a list of likely home inspector candidates from a reliable and trusted source. A good first choice to consider for obtaining a list of names are the nationally recognized associations that many home inspectors belong to. To help you get started, I highly recommend ‘The American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) and ‘The National Association of Home Inspectors’ (NAHI) not only because both ASHI (founded in 1976) and NAHI (founded later in 1987 by an ASHI member) were the first of their kind but also because they still remain the two most prominent and sought after associations in the home inspection profession today.

The next step is to contact the Association you have chosen to obtain a list of its members within a fifty mile radius of the area where you’re planning to buy a home. For those with online capability, the best way to proceed is to visit the Association’s website to see what they have to offer. If you prefer or have to use the phone, most Associations provide a toll free number you can call in order to speak with someone who can answer your questions and provide you with the information you need. In either case, keep the following points in mind as you begin to build and refine your name list: 1) try to end up with at least six to ten names, 2) always ask for and jot down each inspector’s rank or membership status within the Association including how long they’ve been a member, 3) in some cases you may need to contact more than one Association, and 4) take note that a home inspector may belong to more than one Association.

Referrals From Trusted Sources

Another good source of names to consider are referrals from trusted family members, friends and co-workers you have grown to respect over time, not to mention your attorney. In fact, real estate attorneys are usually very discriminating when it comes to recommending a home inspector who will serve their clients’ best interests, and not the Realtor’s, during the real estate transaction process.

Sources To Exclude

Unless a realtor happens to be in the family or a very close friend with your best interests at heart, all other realtor referrals should be considered suspect and disregarded making sure that none have since found their way onto your list. As for relying upon the phone directory, this is paramount to rolling dice or looking for a needle in a hay stack and is definitely not the way to go about finding a good home inspector!

Candidates And Newbies

As you continue building your name list, you want to be sure to exclude newbie home inspectors. To do this, you have to learn a little bit about an Association’s membership. For example, ASHI has what they refer to as Candidates and Members. By definition, an ASHI Candidate is one who has yet to attain full membership status by satisfying certain criteria as set forth by ASHI. This is significant since Candidates are often newbies to the profession, meaning they are just learning the ropes, and typically have little experience inspecting homes. Given this information, exclude all ASHI Candidates from your list unless you’re willing to hire and pay a home inspector to learn at your expense. In no disrespect to newbies, while all have to start somewhere, there’s no substitute for experience!

Also note I have purposely used ASHI to explain this procedure as I am not familiar with how the other association memberships are structured. Therefore, if any of the names on your list happen to belong to an association other than ASHI, you would be will advised to learn what you can about their membership as well.

State Licensing

Some states require licensing of home inspectors while others do not. If the state in which you’re looking to purchase a home does require licensing, then you need to verify that the inspector is licensed in that state and that their license has not expired so you don’t end up with a worthless home inspection. This information can normally be obtained online as well as over the phone by contacting your local state agency that handles licensing of home inspectors. To find out if your state requires licensing refer to ‘Links’ under table of contents. Incidentally and for what it’s worth, never hire a home inspector based upon licensing alone or you could be in for a rude awakening! More on this later.

General Liability And E&O Insurance

Insurance is somewhat similar to licensing in that the states that require home inspectors to be licensed may/may not also require the home inspector to carry general liability and/or errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. If the state you’re planning to buy a home in requires inspectors to be insured, you should be able to easily verify this along with their license since the state will not ordinarily issue a license to a home inspector who has failed to meet this requirement. It’s also a good idea to ask the inspector to produce a copy of their certificate of insurance before/on the day of the inspection for further verification. Similar to licensing, for states that don’t require home inspectors to carry E&O insurance, never base your final decision to hire a home inspector on insurance alone! More on this later on.

Summary

Secure a list of inspection candidates from a well known and trusted source.

Sources include Professional Associations like ASHI and NAHI, and referrals from trusted family members, friends, co-workers, and your attorney.

Refrain from using Realtor referrals and the phone directory

Exclude ASHI Candidates and all newbie inspectors from your list.

Verify that the home inspector is licensed and insured in your state if so required.

Introduction to Online Home Inspector Course

Do you have great interest in architecture and workmanship? Home inspection might be a suitable career for you. Looking at the high demand for home inspectors in the housing market, it is in fact a good choice to pursue a home inspection course to obtain an academic qualification. In order to save cost and time attending classes in the campus, online study is a better choice. Let’s take a closer look on what we can gain from this accredited online course.

As we know, in general, home inspections are routinely needed for newly purchased and newly constructed homes, town houses, condominiums, apartments and other residential properties. By pursuing this home inspection training online, the students will be able to learn the necessary techniques on home evaluation. Firstly, they will gain the knowledge about home exteriors which include landscaping and grading, foundations, roofs and roof-mounted structures, paved areas, windows, doors, garages, wood-destroying insects, so on and so forth. Secondly, lessons on interior construction are covered too. The students will be equipped with knowledge related to utilities, plumbing, cooling and heating systems, attics, basements, crawl spaces, insulation, electrical systems, troubleshooting, etc.

All the core modules will be covered through online learning. By completing this course, the students will be scheduled to take the state exam. It is compulsory for them to pass this exam before obtaining certification from the American Society of Home Inspectors. This profession can be started right after the license is obtained.

To enroll to online home inspector course is not a difficult task as there are no educational prerequisites or experience required. The candidates will be guided step by step to obtain certification and become qualified professionals through online study.