4 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector in Searching For the Best One

Home inspection is an important step in buying a house. It is like an annual check-up to a new home. The procedure is done by assessing the structure of a property and reviewing the property’s major systems. Just by the initial step, that is looking at the foundation of a home, a certified home inspector will be able to tell if the foundation of a home is safe or with damage. Home inspection is necessary nowadays though not mandatory. But, since buyers are becoming aware as consumer, this inspection has become a vital step to produce a decision. Buyers prepare questions to ask home inspector.

What is the home inspector’s qualification? Buyers have the right to ask if the home inspector is a part of National Association of Home Inspectors or any professional body. A highly-credible inspector is a follower of his or her profession’s standard of practice. The rate of the job is sometimes affected by its qualification. When it comes to license, some states require one and some don’t. Like for Arizona, California and FL., each state has its own standing when it comes to licensing.

What kind of training has the inspector experienced? An inspector is required to easily spot flaws in the house. One of the questions to ask home inspector is if he or she has undergone trainings. The process requires crawling, checking on leaks, cracks, stains and climbing roofs. A well-trained person can easily locate faults, analyze, provide reasons and suggest solutions.

What is the scope of the inspection? Buyer may ask what the scope of inspection is. Ideally, a home inspector has checklist of the inspection may it be a standard or comprehensive inspection. This list helps the home inspector assess each specific aspect of the area. The structure of the house is the initial step, followed by visual inspection of the chimney, roof, eaves and rain gutters. The electrical systems are also included and the usual circuit breaker box, outlets and switches. The ventilation system as well as the heating and air conditioning system are part of the inspection. Other included in order to produce a quality assessment are plumbing system, insulation in the house, door and windows, exhaust fans and smoke alarms and unseen by homeowner like molds and wall leaks.

Can a buyer be present during the inspection? Buyer may also ask if he or she can be present during the inspection. This is an assurance for the buyer that the time is well-spent by the inspector of the property. It is also the same with the assurance that the house inspector has covered everything from top to bottom of the list. Accompanying the house inspector is a good experience for the buyer. It gives the opportunity for the buyer to understand what kind of property he or she is about to buy. A good home inspector not only demonstrates the inspection work but also explains its findings.

Home inspection industry is still strong despite economic downturn. There is a continuous room for growth in this industry as consumer demands more. The rate is generally high. Home inspection is a service being paid for an honest report assessment, it is the right of the buyer to make questions to ask home inspector in order to find a good and credible one.

Do Not Blame the Messenger or Home Inspector

The last few years the real estate market has been slow in most areas of the country. When this happens some real estate agents get desperate to sell a home. Be certain that you are working with quality professionals during your home buying process.

Most agents are quality professionals and desire the best for their home buyers. However when times are tough and cash tight some will put their own needs above the home buyers needs and not recommend the more thorough home inspectors that are out there. These agents fear that an issue will be discovered that may as the agents call it “kill the deal”. As a result of this fear these agents may try to sway the home buyer to use a home inspector that is “soft” on a home. Some home inspectors are not very thorough or detailed orientated. Bad agents avoid using thorough inspectors for homes they are trying to sell. These same agents will use these inspectors for family members who are home buying. Odd how some inspectors are viewed as too picky by agents for clients but fine for family members and themselves to use.

Home inspectors can be an issue also. Some fear not getting referrals because of being thorough. Newer inspectors are more likely to report softer on a home so as to not “kill the deal” and to gain favor from the agents. This is a bad practice that will wind up with issues and unhappy home owners. There was a legal case in which an agent was sued and lost because the agent used a soft inspector that did not discover issues with a home. A thorough home inspector is better for everyone.

Lets be clear that it is not the inspector that kills the deal it is the current or the previous home owner that kills the deal. The seller is the one that damages the sale and make it harder by not maintaining their home in the condition that it should have been kept at in the first place. A thorough home inspector will find issues and provide very useful information to the home buyer or to the home seller if the home seller is willing to learn.

How to Choose a Home Inspector When You’re Buying a Home

Some thoughts on how to choose a Home Inspector

I will attempt to break down this question as we are seeing some really strange trends in our current economy and housing Market.

As I’ve been a Home Inspector in Lancaster CA for many years I’m often asked the same question over and over again. Clients, friends and many other “folks” want to know what separates one Home Inspector from the next. I will begin with a variation of a checklist that can be found at my website linked in this article.

When choosing someone to inspect your Real Estate Purchase it’s important to remember a few things:

I recommend Making a “Checklist” and calling a few Home Inspectors in your area – try not to book the first one you call! You’ll notice in a series of recommendations I have YOU ASK… I didn’t mention PRICE until the end.

By the way, if our “candidate” is in the middle of an inspection and needs to call back, that’s fine! Don’t get into a hurry!

Experience – Ask the Home Inspector “What type of experience do you have. How long have you been in business? What type of Industry related experience do you have besides being an inspector?”

  • We’re trying to get an idea as to how long our “candidate” has been around and what his or her background may be. I’m sorry to say but we don’t want newbies inspecting our expensive purchases. I also don’t want someone who… no offense here, was working at a Retail Store this or last year and is now responsible for helping me decide on the most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make.

Are you a member of a Professional Organization and are you “Certified”? The answer here should be YES.

  • This topic has some debate as to which certifying body is “better”, I could care less. It’s like saying your Real Estate Agent is better because they are from one large firm and not the other. The idea here is that an inspector has made a commitment to be a professional. If they are not a member of Nachi, ASHI or NAHI to name a few… I’d want to know why!

Do you carry Insurance? The only answer here is YES.

  • If you are a buyer or a Real Estate agent, recognize the fact that most professional and full time inspectors carry insurance. If you as an Agent are “shopping” for your client, be careful if your inspector doesn’t have insurance, you may be liable as the “referring party”.

Are you INDEPENDENT? The answer here should be again, YES

  • Sorry if this sounds bad, but most Good inspectors I know are independent inspectors… Distant from any binding agreements with “outside” parties limiting their scope and ability to “talk freely” about their thoughts and findings.

Are you LICENSED? The answer here will vary, check with your local areas or state’s website.

  • Many states (no Licenses are required in California by the way) have License Requirements for Home Inspectors that require State Licenses. Inquire with your State’s Website before you call an inspector. As a Home Inspector in Lancaster CA we have very few requirements here, but this will vary from state to state and area to area.

Who will perform my Inspection? Preferably, the answer for this one is “Me”

  • Here is another one that I get some “flack” for. In a perfect world, the person answering the phone will be the person inspecting your Real Estate purchase. A couple of reasons for this include: A Real Estate Inspection can be a liability if performed poorly and should be done so by the person who would be responsible! Let’s think about this for a minute… If I have someone that works for me… would they be more likely to mention an “obscure or minor” item knowing that “it’s no big deal and shoot, I’m not responsible anyway” or as ME the owner.. knowing that liability AND reputation are on the line? Easy one I think!

What type of Inspection Report will I receive?

  • While the best report will come from the best inspector, I’ve decided that the Checklist paper type are too antiquated and are nearly obsolete. They are easier for me, the Home Inspector to use, but are easily less informative than the computerized reports that I now use. It’s the 21st century, request a computerized report with pictures for goodness sake! The inspector generally has the ability to store relevant information and common situations that are relevant to your local area and the paper type are generally not. I could be wrong on a small scale, but not by much!

Can I attend the Inspection?

  • The answer here is a very important one….your inspector should actually “encourage” you to be there. If they didn’t I consider it a red flag, unless you indicated prior to asking this question that you couldn’t be there! The reason I say it’s a red flag is because of this, a shy or reserved type of person may be a great inspector, but is likely to find it difficult to be comfortable explaining items and “being under the gun”. Does that make sense? It should! So this is actually a good time to tell if your inspector is a “Chatty Kathy” or “Mr. No personality”. There is a really bad inspector in my area that people really like and he does well, simply because he is so friendly and well spoken. His or her clients should be reading these questions before calling him though:-)

How long will it take to get my Inspection Report? The answer should be either: Soon or Very soon!

  • Meaning this, inspectors that takes several days, especially during the workweek to deliver reports creates a lot of problems. This is because: Most inspectors I know have very good memories, but good enough to have 4-6 reports backed up and waiting to be written? No, of course not. Myself, I have most of my report done when I’m leaving the inspection, thanks to the advent of a portable tablet style laptop ( a necessity in my book) I could probably go “out to the truck” and send it out. I don’t though. I insert my photos and proof read my work and send it out later that day or by the next morning or so. We all have ways that work for us, I just don’t see how many inspectors can write accurate reports several days after leaving the job site.

Can I call you if I have any questions after the inspection or after I receive my report?

  • Most inspectors are going to say YES! Try to remember in this “interview” with your potential home inspector whether you got a feel that this person is a sociable one or just in a hurry to get off the phone. As mentioned, if he or she is in the field and offers to call back, don’t hold it against them. See if they do and think of it as an opportunity to see if they do as they say! After all it’s easier to answer a phone that to make time to call people back. The last question should be “How Much”. Not to say that this isn’t important to you, it just should carry a smaller “weight” if you will. I think that people put way too much emphasis on the cost of a Home Inspection rather than looking at some facets that I have made available for you here!

I will be writing another article on a topic ” I’m buying a Home As-Is, should I get it Inspected?” Yes you should, I’ll write more about it soon.

I hope that you find this tips helpful and if I can be of further service visit my website Home Inspection in Palmdale CA.

Thanks again for reading and good luck!

By Tim Spargo, Certified Residential and Commercial Real Estate Inspector