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|By following these six simple
steps, you can help to ensure that you are making the right choice when selecting a Home
When it is time for you to
start looking for a Home Inspector, where can you find a list of qualified companies from
which to choose? You might want to ask your Realtor, Banker, or Attorney for a list of
names. Otherwise you can look in the Yellow Pages under Home and Building Inspections,
ask friends or co-workers, or check out the directories of top national organizations such
as NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) for a listing of Inspectors in
After you have a list of names from which
to choose, grab a pen and paper and start making some phone calls. Dont be afraid to
ask the "tough" questions. A legitimate Home Inspection Company will appreciate
that you are being careful when making your choices, while a marginal one may become
defensive. Remember, not all inspectors and their qualifications are created
|1. Choose An Inspector With Top
|Buying a home will likely be the largest investment
you will ever make. Consequently, it is very important to choose wisely when selecting
your Home Inspector. Direct, "hands-on" experience in building is one of the
most important criteria to look for. For instance, a house cannot be dismantled during
an inspection, so it is important to have someone with the experience and background who
doesnt have to disassemble a wall to know whats inside and how its put
together. A house is made of many different components and systems that are all
inter-related and are all supposed to work together. Many of these are hidden from view,
and cannot be directly viewed. It is important to choose an inspector who has experience
in home-building, from the ground up, and has been involved in the installation and layout
of these systems.
Dont be confused by Home Inspector
"certifications" obtained through quick study courses (sometimes two weeks or
less), or sold through trade organizations. It takes many years of experience and training
to develop the necessary skills and insight needed to be a good Home Inspector.
|2. Experience, Experience, Experience
|Check into how long the
Inspector has been in the business, and how many Home Inspections he has performed. There
is no equivalent to experience! Do you really want someone inspecting your house
who is doing this "part-time", or has only been performing inspections for a
year or two?
3. Be Sure To Obtain A Written Report
that your Home Inspector provides a detailed written report, not a hand written checklist
with stock responses that is given to you at the end of the inspection. A checklist can be
difficult to interpret and to read, and may be void of many of the details and advice you
need. A step up from this is a computer-generated report, which offers a combination of
the checklist and a narrative reporting formats, and which includes specific comments to
An Inspection Report should encompass three
- Overview A detailed picture of the
house on the day of the inspection, itemizing all the major components and their
- Maintenance Items A listing of items
in need of normal maintenance or attention. This list will allow you to be pro-active in
your approach to home maintenance, and hopefully, minimize your risk of being blind-sided
by an unexpected expense you could have been saving for, if you had known about it.
- Major Repair Items This is any
defect with the potential to present a significant expense to you, in the near term. These
items should be clearly identified, with estimated repair/replacement costs (if possible).
The Inspection and Report should give you
the information that you, as the buyer, need to make an informed decision about your new
For more info on what you
should expect during a Home Inspection, see What
Is A Home Inspection?.
|4. Professional Affiliations & Certifications
|Be sure that the Inspector you retain
has professional affiliations and certifications through nationally recognized
organizations such as NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), ICBO
(International Conference of Building Officials), EPA (Environmental
Protection Agency), AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and
Technologists), etc. This information will help to give you insight into the
background, and depth of industry involvement of the Inspector you plan to hire.
|5. What Type Of Equipment Will Be Used?
|Many Home Inspectors bring
nothing more to the Inspection than a flashlight. Todays Home Inspector though,
should be taking advantage of some of the newer technologies being introduced, and fully
utilizing the best testing equipment available. This equipment is delicate and can be very
expensive, but in order to stay on "the cutting edge" and provide the best
service possible, it is a necessary investment. Proper equipment should range from the
more sophisticated testing devices (electrical circuit analyzers, electronic carbon
monoxide & fuel gas analyzers, digital moisture meters, digital cameras to document
findings, etc.), all the way down to the more mundane but necessary equipment, such as
ladders, flashlights, levels, etc.
|Why is price last on the list?
It is important to ask yourself this question
"Do you really want to go bargain
hunting for the Inspector who will do the job for the least amount of money?"
-or- "Is it important to hire the most qualified?" Of course one should
always try to be budget conscious, but when hiring a Home Inspector, you should always
search for the most qualified and most experienced person you can find. What is a $25 or
$50 difference in price compared to your potential exposure if, due to inexperience, your
"low budget" inspector overlooks an expensive defect? On balance, you will find
that hiring the best doesnt cost, it pays!