Whether you are a homebuyer or a real estate professional helping your clients, finding a house to place an offer on is only one step of the process. Another important step is verifying that the house is free of major defects that could catch you off-guard. That’s where a professional home inspection comes in.
Homebuyers are free to hire any home inspector to complete their inspection, so it’s wise to research the options in your area before making a decision. Here are some guidelines for finding a qualified home inspector to complete your inspection.
Finding a Qualified Home Inspector: What to Know
If you’re a real estate professional, recommending a professional and trustworthy home inspector to your clients is crucial. Many homebuyers follow their agents’ referrals, but some prefer to find a home inspector another way.
Before choosing a home inspector, a few things to consider are:
- Their licensing and certifications.
- The types of inspections they offer.
- Their experience.
- Inspection report format.
- Previous client testimonials.
How do home inspectors become qualified?
Home inspection certification is not mandated on a federal level in the U.S., and each state has its own set of rules. Depending on the state, home inspectors may be required to be licensed with experience and education requirements.
For example, New York and Texas call for a minimum of 90 hours of training before being approved, while Georgia and California do not require home inspectors to be certified at all. Furthermore, some states also require continuing education after obtaining a license.
Home inspectors often join a recognized trade association, including the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These organizations offer different membership levels, and requirements may include a background check, proof of passing the National Home Inspector Examination, and completing a certain number of home inspections.
Home inspectors must meet the requirements in their state to remain qualified. Professional home inspectors typically carry General Liability and Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance to protect their work.
Inspectors may become certified in additional specialties to expand their services, including:
- Infrared thermography
- Lead and asbestos
- Wood-destroying organisms
- Pool and spa
- Septic systems
- Wind mitigation
How do training and experience affect the quality of the home inspection?
An inspector’s training and experience are key for a quality home inspection. A thorough and accurate inspection requires an understanding of all major systems and components of a house, including:
- Exterior cladding
- Roof systems
- Plumbing systems
- Electrical systems
- HVAC systems
- Interiors, including ceilings, walls, doors, windows, and floors
- Fireplaces and chimneys
- Installed appliances
It takes specialized training and experience to properly inspect and develop a deep understanding of residential construction elements. Ask an inspector you are considering hiring about their credentials or search for them online.
Why does the report format matter?
The format of a home inspection report has a significant impact on readability and functionality. PDF and HTML reports are two popular options for delivering these documents.
PDFs are a commonly used format for home inspection reports because they can be optimized for printing. However, they are limited and don’t work well with web-based forms or other interactive elements.
HTML is another option that is growing in popularity for home inspection reports. It is highly customizable and scalable, allowing the file to be more easily adjusted for images, videos, and text size. It is compatible with web-based forms and tools like the Create Request List™.
Aside from being flexible and adjustable, HTML documents provide superior security over PDFs through robust authentication and authorization systems. The ability to password-protect HTML reports makes them preferable for handling sensitive information.
With HTML documents, homebuyers can interact with the report by jumping to different sections with just a click, zooming into photos, watching videos, and more. These interactive features enable real estate agents to submit repair requests to sellers quickly without worrying about formatting issues that may arise from printing or sending PDF reports electronically. These features help preserve the integrity of the document over time.
Before hiring a home inspector, consider the pros and cons of each report format and confirm that your inspector of choice can meet your needs and preferences.
How do real estate professionals help clients find a home inspector?
As an industry professional, a real estate agent is adept at connecting clients with the resources they need. Most agents have relationships with local specialists, like inspectors, appraisers, lawyers, and contractors.
Here are some qualities that real estate agents look for when recommending home inspectors to their clients:
- They quickly respond to messages and clearly communicate with customers.
- Their business is licensed, bonded, and has the necessary insurance coverage.
- They offer all the inspection and testing services the client needs.
- There are positive reviews or references from past clients.
- They have the background and expertise needed for inspecting the type of property you need to evaluate.
- The homebuyer and agent are allowed to be present during inspections.
- Their home inspection report is comprehensive and easy to understand.
Securing a home inspection is an essential step in the home-buying process that should not be overlooked. Look for a certified, experienced home inspector with great references and comprehensive inspection reports. A thorough home inspection by a credentialed inspector helps the homebuyer make a more informed purchase.
Hire a home inspector who uses professional software and technology to make the process easier for everyone involved. When you select inspectors who use HomeGauge, the real estate professional and the homebuyer can access a convenient dashboard that includes features like digital payments, secure online report retrieval, and access to the Create Request List™ (CRL™) tool. This feature simplifies adding repair requests from the inspection report to the sales contract, making the process easy for everyone involved.