Buying a house is a big deal – it’s like reaching for the stars and finally touching one.
But before you reach Sirius, you have some work to do. One of those is critical to your future use and enjoyment of that home you want so badly: hiring a home inspector.
These professionals are like the superheroes of home buying, ensuring your dream home is in tip-top shape. Let’s dive in and discover how to find the perfect home inspector and what questions you should ask to make the best decision.
Why a home inspector is your hero
Picture this: you’ve found the house of your dreams – cozy, charming, and just right. But wait! Before you get all starry-eyed, let a professional home inspector work their magic. These awesome folks are licensed and super-knowledgeable.
Their mission? To check the systems in your potential new home, from the roof to the foundation. They’ll spot any red flags that could turn your fairytale home into a real-life nightmare.
Mind you, their superpowers are limited. They only inspect what they can actually see. This means they can’t tell you what is happening behind the walls, under the floors or deep into the recesses of the HVAC system.
Those limitations, however, shouldn’t keep you from having the home inspected. What they can tell you may turn out to be the determining factor, positive or negative, on whether or not you still want that particular home.
The quest for the perfect home inspector
Now, let’s embark on the grand quest of finding the perfect home inspector.
Start by asking your family, friends and colleagues which inspector they used when they bought their homes. Many homebuyers turn to their real estate agent for a referral to a home inspector, but in some states, that activity is illegal.
Another good source of referrals can be found on neighborhood sites, such as NextDoor.com and any location-specific Facebook neighborhood groups.
While you’re online, check the review sites, such as Yelp.com and, of course, look at the home inspectors’ Better Business Bureau rating. Don’t forget to navigate to the inspector’s (or company’s) websites and peruse the reviews and general information.
Just in case you need more help in your quest:
- American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a Find an Inspector section on its website.
- International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) provides the credentials of nearly 27,000 certified home inspectors.
This sounds basic, but it’s surprising how many homebuyers neglect this step: ensure the home inspector is licensed. We also urge you to interview more than one inspector.
Your list of questions for the home inspectors you interview
- “Are you licensed and insured?” A professional home inspector will proudly show you their credentials, including insurance. That way, the homeowner is protected if anything unexpected happens during the inspection.
- “How long have you been in the game?” The more experience, the better. An inspector with years of inspecting homes under their belt knows how to spot even the sneakiest of problems.
- “How long does the inspection take?” Most inspections take from 2 to 4 hours, according to Tobie Stanger at ConsumerReports.org. Regardless of how experienced the inspector is, if he or she says he takes less time than that, reconsider hiring“. . . being knowledgeable doesn’t mean the inspector is going to be diligent or conscientious,” according to Stanger, which they can’t be if they are “ … rushing through the inspection.”
- “Can I join you during the inspection?” Tagging along during the inspection allows you to ask questions you may not even think to ask if you just work off the written report. You’ll get to see first-hand what the inspector uncovers.
- “What do you check during an inspection?” A good inspector will cover everything, from the roof, plumbing, electrical, and more.
- “When will I get the report?” Residential home inspectors are aware that time is of the essence when one is under contract in a home sale so they are pretty speedy in getting the report finished.
- Let the inspector know the end date of your inspection contingency (it’s in the purchase agreement or, give us a call, we’re happy to help).
- “May I see a copy of an inspection you have performed?” This sample copy should give you an idea of how detailed the inspector’s reports are, what is inspected and the scope of work you can expect.
Also, compare this inspector’s report to the others you are interviewing.
“In Consumer Reports’ examination of reports from home inspectors across the country, we found that the typical report consists of a few dozen pages covering findings on all the major systems in the house, and includes photographs and descriptions of documented problems and maintenance suggestions,” Stanger said.
The home inspection is one of the most important aspects of the home purchase process. Ensure that you are getting what you pay for before you pay.