Having a home inspector conduct a thorough property review before you buy is a crucial step in any real estate transaction. An experienced inspector will note any issues with a home’s structure, systems, and major appliances so you can walk into the sale with your eyes open. If there are no major problems, you get a great deal of peace of mind. If the home inspector finds issues, you can negotiate with the seller to make repairs before closing or lower the price so you can afford to attend to problems yourself.
Truly, opting for a home inspection is a no-brainer.
But now that you’re ready to choose an inspector, what should you look for? You want to work with someone who’s an expert and who you feel comfortable with as Explainer-in-Chief for your dream home. Here’s our Top 10 list of things to think about before you hire a home inspector for the job so you can make sure the process runs smoothly.
1. Make sure your home inspector is licensed in your state.
Many, but not all, states require that home inspectors be licensed to perform inspections legally. The licensing process ensures that inspectors are qualified, typically by requiring a certain number of hours of education and experience and possibly an exam. If your state requires a license, ask to see it! Your inspector should happily furnish their license number for you to verify.
2. Check for membership in a professional organization.
There are other professional organizations as well, but for starters, membership in either the International Association of Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and/or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) means that an inspector has met high standards for education and experience and that they are interested in ongoing learning in the field. This is especially important in states that don’t require licensing or special certification because you’ll know your inspector has been evaluated by a third party.
3. Ask to see a sample inspection report.
The inspection report is a vital document that should detail every visible thing about the home. A strong sample report should be easy to read and incredibly thorough. It’s also a good idea to look for plenty of photos, clear organization, and plain English explaining any issues for the home buyer. If the report seems spotty, rushed, or hard to follow, it’s a good sign that the inspector isn’t a good fit for you. You may also prefer a digital file rather than a paper report for your records, so be sure to ask about the format.
4. Ask for verbal explanations.
Even the most detailed report can leave you with questions, especially if you’re a first-time buyer or lack experience with one of the home’s systems — for example, an oil furnace or in-ground pool. A good inspector is also a good teacher and should happily explain anything you don’t understand. Asking a “test” question about the sample report will give you a sense of whether the inspector’s style is a good fit for your specific needs.
5. Check their experience in the field.
Ideally, you want to hire an inspector with deep experience in the construction methods and idiosyncrasies in your region. Feel free to ask about their experience, including years as an inspector, related building experience, and how many homes they’ve inspected in your target neighborhood.
6. Don’t forget to scan online reviews.
In this day and age, Googling a business before you work with them is just part of the process. It’s always a good idea to search Google, Yelp, and Angi for online reviews of your inspector. This will alert you to any red flags before you hire and can help give you an overall sense of an inspector’s style.
7. Make sure you’re invited to the inspection.
Good home inspectors will definitely want to include you in the inspection process. It’s an important learning experience for you as a buyer, and you should plan to attend to ask any and all questions you have about what you see. A great inspector will tell you to plan on spending at least the end of the inspection together walking through the home, and your participation should be non-negotiable.
8. Ask if they’re qualified for additional inspections.
In many states, more specific inspections require different licenses and certifications to complete, and a standard home inspection may not go into detail about certain issues. It’s common to require an extra inspection for issues like radon, termites, and other wood-destroying organisms, lead paint, sewer lines, and more. If your dream house needs any of these other inspections, hiring one inspector to them all will save you time — and probably money, too.
9. Ask what’s in their toolkit.
Modern technology has made it possible to get up-close views of things that used to be hidden to homeowners. For example, many inspectors now use drones to get pictures of the roof, infrared cameras to check for heat loss, and special scopes to examine sewer pipes. Ask what your inspector includes as part of the standard inspection, and what special tools might be considered add-on services so you know exactly what you’re getting on the day of the visit.
10. Don’t forget about turn-around time.
Finally, be sure to ask your inspector how far in advance they book appointments and how soon after the inspection you can expect to receive the written report. If you’re on a tight schedule for your closing, the timing of your inspection could be a major factor in your hiring decision.
If you’d like to know more about home inspections or need help finding a qualified pro in your area, HomeGauge is here to help! We work with professional home inspectors around the country and are proud to help them do their best work by providing cutting-edge home inspection tools. View our new home for home buyers to learn more about the home inspection process and the benefits of choosing a HomeGauge inspector today.