Homes are major purchases. In fact, they’re probably going to be the biggest purchases you ever make in your life. That means you need to make sure that your money is well spent. Having a home inspection will give you that reassurance (or keep you clear of a bad purchase).
Of course, if you want a home inspection then you need to find a home inspector. If you don’t know anybody in the industry, then you may not know how to go about doing this. Here is a quick guide to help.
Getting Started: How Do I Choose a Home Inspector?
Table of Contents
- 1 Getting Started: How Do I Choose a Home Inspector?
- 2 Why is a Home Inspection Important?
- 3 What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
- 4 What to Look for in a Home Inspector
- 5 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Inspector
- 5.1 What Are Your Credentials?
- 5.2 Are You Licensed, Bonded, and Insured?
- 5.3 Are You a Member of any Industry Organizations?
- 5.4 What is Your Experience?
- 5.5 How Do you Keep Your Skills Up to Date?
- 5.6 What is Your Lead Time for Home Inspections?
- 5.7 How Much Does a Home Report Cost and What is Included?
- 5.8 How Do You Deliver Reports?
- 5.9 Can I Attend the Home Inspection?
- 5.10 Can You Provide Samples of Previous Work?
- 6 Make Your Next Move with Omni Horizon
There are three main ways you can go about choosing a home inspector:
- You can ask around for recommendations or you can look for online reviews.
- You can check with licensing/regulating boards. Most states have them.
- You can just do a search on “home inspector + your local area” and reach out to a few possibilities.
Any reputable home inspector will be happy to answer your questions. Whatever approach you choose, it’s advisable to start your search for a home inspector as soon as you start looking for a home. It may take time to find the right one.
Why is a Home Inspection Important?
A home inspection is important because it tells you exactly what you’ll be taking on if you buy the property. A home inspection will take a lot longer than the average home viewing. Additionally, a home inspector will have special training and equipment. This enables them to pick up issues most people would miss.
Just as importantly, a home inspector will highlight any potential issues you should consider before buying a house. For example, a home inspector can look for issues that might lead to subsidence. They can inform you of the risk level and any steps that could be taken to lower the risk.
Sometimes the result of a home inspection is that the home inspector gives the property a clean bill of health. This is particularly likely if the seller had a home inspection done before listing the property. Sometimes, however, the home inspection will uncover issues that could impact the value of the home. It’s then up to you to decide what you want to do about them.
In the most serious cases, you might choose to walk away completely. This may be the best option for you if you’re in a hurry to move. It might also be a good idea if you’re on a tight budget and/or have limited experience with home renovations. Alternatively, you might request the seller to fix the issues before the sale or offer a lower price to take the property “as is.”
What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
A home inspection will literally go from the roof of the property to its foundations. It will check all exterior walls and all the key features in between them, including ones that are usually overlooked such as crawl spaces. If relevant, it will also look at outbuildings such as garages.
In the roof area, the home inspector will assess both its current structural integrity and its ability to resist whatever the elements might throw at it. For example, they will look at drainage, overhangs, gutters, and downspouts.
If there is a chimney a home inspector will check its condition. Even though few houses still have working real-fuel fires, chimneys often still play an important role in ventilation.
Additionally, a home inspector will check both ventilation in general and the state of the insulation. These are both important for keeping a home in good condition. They also play a role in sustainability as well as influencing how much you have to pay in household bills.
A home inspector will also check the home’s key infrastructure. This will include heating and cooling systems, plumbing, and electrics. It will also cover permanent fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms. This would typically include cabinets, counters, sinks, faucets, garbage disposals, and other built-in appliances.
Another key feature of a home inspection is a thorough check for potential hazards such as the presence of vermin especially wood-eating insects, mildew/mold, and rot (both wet and dry). These can be surprisingly easy to miss in a regular home viewing.
What to Look for in a Home Inspector
When you’re looking for a home inspector, there are generally five areas you want to assess. These are qualifications, licensing, insurance, experience, and reputation. If you are satisfied with all of these, then your last step is to speak to a home inspector personally. This last check is important as you need to be confident that a home inspector is right for you.
Qualifications, licensing, and insurance are often effectively bundled together. State licensing boards will generally only grant licenses to home inspectors who can show appropriate qualifications. Having insurance is also likely to be a condition of being granted a license. With that said, it never hurts to double-check.
One key point to note is that regular home inspection qualifications (such as the National Home Inspector Examination) are only intended to prepare home inspectors to inspect regular properties. If you’re looking at a non-standard property such as a very old property then it’s strongly advisable to look for a home inspector with qualifications in that specific area.
Undertaking home inspections of non-standard properties can require a lot more knowledge, training, and specialist equipment than undertaking home inspections of standard, modern properties. For example, older properties were built using techniques that have long since been abandoned.
There’s also a strong link between qualifications and experience. Certifying bodies are well aware of the importance of experience so they make sure that their candidates get it. It’s also worth noting that modern technology can do a lot to speed up the experience-gaining process.
For example, prior to the internet, home inspectors would either have had to look at homes in person or look at pictures in books. Now, they can look at pictures they can manipulate, for example by zooming in on details. They can also watch videos. This means that training organizations can make sure that trainee home inspectors get plenty of exposure to potential issues.
In general, if you’re buying a fairly standard, modern property, you’ll be absolutely fine with a newly-qualified home inspector. If, however, you’re looking at a more niche and/or higher-value property, then you may want to look for a home inspector with more experience.
Like experience, reputation tends to come over time. It is, however, definitely worth checking if you can. Consider using online reviews or asking your real estate agent to gain information about your inspector’s reputation.
10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Inspector
Many home inspectors now have websites and Google Business Profiles. It’s worth checking these as they will often have answers to these questions. If they don’t, however, make sure you put them directly to the potential home inspector.
What Are Your Credentials?
This will vary from state to state. Check the requirements where you are buying.
Are You Licensed, Bonded, and Insured?
The answer to all three questions should be yes.
Are You a Member of any Industry Organizations?
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) work in all states. There are also state-level organizations.
Membership of these organizations typically requires an exam, a commitment to uphold the highest ethics, and a requirement to continue with ongoing training. Some of these bodies also require evidence of a certain level of experience.
What is Your Experience?
Firstly, you want to find out how long they have been a home inspector. Secondly, you may want to find out what kind of work they have done. For example, have they focussed purely on standard residential property or do they have any niche specializations?
How Do you Keep Your Skills Up to Date?
The answer to this will probably be through ongoing training with an industry organization. Really any answer is acceptable as long as it demonstrates that they are committed to continual professional development.
What is Your Lead Time for Home Inspections?
Be prepared for this to vary depending on the state of the local market. This often depends on the time of year. The lead time for home inspections isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality (or lack of it). You just need to know whether or not you have a reasonable chance of having your home inspection completed in the time available to you.
How Much Does a Home Report Cost and What is Included?
Your home inspector may only be able to give you a definite price once they know what property you want to be inspected. They should, however, be able to tell you their standard process for inspecting a home.
How Do You Deliver Reports?
Many home inspectors still use paper or a digital PDF file, but some now use video or offer a video option. Many home inspectors will provide photos and possibly video as standard.
Can I Attend the Home Inspection?
Prior to the recent pandemic, reputable home inspectors were generally happy for clients to attend the home inspection if they wished. If they weren’t, it was considered a red flag. Currently, however, this is more variable. Also, sellers may prefer to minimize the number of people who enter their homes.
If attending the home inspection is important to you, then you should definitely raise the question with a potential home inspector. Be aware, however, that the seller will have to agree to it too.
Can You Provide Samples of Previous Work?
Ideally, you want samples from properties that are similar to the one you’re thinking of buying. There are two points you want to check:
- How much specific detail does the home inspector provide?
- How clearly do they communicate their findings?
If you’re not happy with either of these points then just move on to a new candidate.
Make Your Next Move with Omni Horizon
The real estate market is changing and you need a strategic partner ready to look ahead of the curve. Omni Horizon Real Estate sees what’s ahead and is ready to go to work for you no matter whether you are buying or selling a home. Here are just some of the benefits of working with a skilled real estate agent from Omni Horizon:
- Prior vetting of homes and buyers to maximize the chance of a good match
- Access to top-class negotiating skills
- Help with all the paperwork involved in real estate transactions
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, get in touch with Omni Horizon Real Estate now.