BUYING A HOME: How to Hire the Best Home Inspector

Thursday Oct 29th, 2020


A home inspection is one of those things you should never go without when you are purchasing a home. It is good sense to know what you’re buying before you sign the final Offer to Purchase document with your Realtor. Any home can be hiding catastrophic issues. Even if you intend to renovate all the way from the studs out, you still don’t want to pay to purchase problems. Your home inspection is one of the most important steps in your home purchase, which makes your home inspector an important person too. Most mortgage lenders will require an inspection before they approve financing (that alone should give you an idea of how critical an inspection is!).  However, the lender won’t likely specify who does your inspection.  That’s largely up to you and this isn’t a “one size fits all” event.  We suggest not hiring the first result you get from doing a Google search.  Go a step further and do a little homework.

Questions usually lead to knowledge so don’t be afraid to ask a few of your potential home inspector.  An inspection will cost between $300 and $600 for a modest-sized home and could go up significantly for a larger luxury home.  However, the cost of an unreported issue can be far greater.  This is a big job and you have every right to choose the best person for the task.  Here are a few questions to get you started when you speak with a potential home inspector.

What accreditations do you carry?

An accreditation will show what kind of training and experience an inspector has under his/her belt.  It’s a good idea to know what their background is before your hire him or her.  Most accredited home inspectors are willing to show you their licenses to verify this.

Are you a member of any applicable professional organizations?

Most reputable home inspectors will carry membership in at least one professional organization.  Each one has its own licensing and certification procedures and most have a code of ethics that members are required to follow.  It’s good to know that your inspector is willing to adhere to the high standards that most of these organizations require.

What is your professional background?

Hiring locally isn’t just good for the local economy; it’s good for you too.  An inspector with experience in your geographical area will know the ins and outs of the local building codes as well as the eccentricities of the local architecture.  He or she will know which builders made great homes and which ones are known for having certain issues.  They will understand what the weather is like where you are buying and how it affects the homes in that area. Your inspector’s background also covers his professional work.  If his experience isn’t in the type of property you’re purchasing, you need to find another inspector. Even if a candidate is a top-notch commercial inspector, he might not be a good pick for a residential transaction.  Make sure his background is a match for you needs.

How much experience do you have?

How much experience your inspector has is just as important as what kind of experience it is. If this is his first house, he might not be what you need.  Everyone has to start somewhere but experience is a very good teacher and you want a good student working on your home.

What kind of report do you provide? May I see a copy?

Chances are, a home inspection is a requirement of your mortgage approval. Your lender will want a copy of the report and you want to feel confident that the report will be acceptable to them and meet their lending requirements. 

How long will the inspection take?  

Expect at least 2 to 3 hours for an average-sized, relatively young home. An older home, a larger home or a “fixer” will take longer, perhaps up to 5 or 6 hours or more.  Reports should be provided to you in approximately 24 hours on any average weekday.

What will you inspect? Should I attend?

Your inspector will be able to reel off the major points of an inspection quite easily. It’s what he does every day after all.  And if he won’t let you come to see what you’re potential new home is made of, that’s a red flag.  You are the one buying the home; you should be able to see what he sees, both right and wrong, so that you can make a wise decision. Real estate board – absolutely should attend the complete home inspection. Budget 3 hours a real education about the home they’re buying… and great tips on home maintenance. 

Can you provide references?

If he can’t provide at least 2 or 3 previous customers or real estate agents that will speak well of him, that’s another red flag. An inspector with experience should be able to point to at least a few satisfied customers willing to speak on his or her behalf. After all of these years, Pillar to Post is still our #1 home inspector of choice. Any time I buy a property for myself, he is the home inspector I rely on. I consistently and continue recommend him… expertise and knowledge from over 20 years’ experience. You can contact Chad here

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