Before You Hire a Home Inspector
The Seven Most Important Things to Know Before Scheduling a Home Inspection
1. Hire a Home Inspector who will work for you and ONLY for you.
The home inspector’s duty is to act as an objective third party and provide accurate, pertinent information about the home so that his client, usually a buyer, can have a clear picture from which to make informed decisions. Your home inspector should not try to influence you against a property, but neither should he soft-peddle or minimize serious problems in an effort to “keep the deal together.” Be sure your inspector knows you are his client and is prepared to represent your interests exclusively.
2. Hire an experienced home inspector with REAL credentials.
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the only national organization with membership requirements tough enough to assure you that your inspector will be trained and knowledgeable. An ASHI candidate can achieve full Member status only after, 1) completing 250 fee-paid inspections that comply with ASHI Standards, 2) passing a comprehensive written test and, 3) proving that his reports provide enough information to meet the ASHI Standards. There are many other organizations out there, and more cropping up all the time, but none is as professional as ASHI. Many of them exist just to provide a way for new inspectors to claim they are “certified.” Be sure your inspector is an ASHI Member. Also, beware of the inspector whose training and background is limited or nearly limited to a “home inspector training school” or “institute.” Even the best of these schools is capable of teaching only a fraction of what one needs to know to be a competent home inspector. Typically, the classes only last a week or so. A person who does not have a long-term background in construction and mechanical systems simply is not qualified to inspect homes and a week-long class will not change that.
3. Avoid the “one-hour wonder”
An inspection of a typical home should take two to three hours. Ask how long your inspection is likely to take and be wary of the inspector whose response seems to express pride at being fast. A fast home inspection is not to your advantage. A little bit of common sense goes a long way here. Ask yourself if it is reasonable to think anyone could conduct a complete inspection of a house and all its systems and then make sure you understand any problems or concerns, all in less than two hours? Obviously, it is not. The inspector who does that is skipping over things, no question about it.
4. Don’t shop price only.
Money is tight for most people and especially so in the midst of buying a home. However, it is possible to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. It is difficult for an inexperienced new home inspector to compete with established businesses. Because the rookie inspector is neither as experienced nor as well trained, bargain basement pricing is the only positive comparison he can make. But if you pay $100 less for an inspection that fails to disclose serious problems, did you really save $100? The low-priced inspection is likely being offered by an inexperienced inspector and could cost you much, much more in the long run. Our pricing is fair and reasonable and is based on the real costs of operating this business properly, not based on trying to get our foot in the door.
5. Plan to attend your inspection.
There is no doubt that your home inspection would proceed more quickly without your presence. As a result, some inspectors will tell you it is not important for you to attend. We disagree. You will get much more benefit from the inspection if you are present. You are able to see first-hand the concerns identified in the report and you can ask questions to be sure you fully understand the implications. The home inspector can show you how to operate systems and explain anything that is unusual. If at all possible, be there.
6. Hire a good communicator.
Unless you are fairly knowledgeable about houses and their systems, there are likely to be things that should be explained to you. Some inspectors, while technically well-trained, are either not willing or not able to explain things in a way that makes sense to you. You cannot make good use of the information in a home inspection if you do not understand it. Be sure your inspector is willing and able to communicate information to you.
7. Be sure the report will be specific and informative.
Consider the following example: “There may be rot in some of the windows and/or window trim. See the window in the southeast bedroom for an example of this concern.” Believe it or not, there are inspection reports that use just that kind of intentionally vague language. By generalizing, the inspector has freed himself from inspecting any of the other windows. He has told you there may be rot in one window, or in twenty, and left it up to you to determine which is the case. So the inspector is protected, which is good for him, but it is not good for you. At Byron Home Inspection, we always put the interests of our clients first. We write a report that is concise, easy to understand and as specific as it needs to be for you to gain a clear understanding.