If you are in the throes of the home buying or selling process, it is likely that you will soon need the services of a home inspector. This person is a crucial part of your decision to move forward with a home purchase since the inspection should bring to light any problems with the property. It’s possible your agent already has someone lined up, but you may want to do your research first. So, how do you choose a home inspector? First, let’s review why you need an inspector and what their role is in this process.
Who Uses a Home Inspector?
The most common request for a home inspection comes from potential buyers who want to know the condition of the property’s major components and systems before going through with the transaction. Many lenders require a home inspection before they will approve the underwriting of a home loan.
Sellers may also hire a home inspector before listing their home so that they are aware of any potential stumbling blocks to completing a sale. This process gives the seller warning of any problems so they can address issues that might hinder buyers from making an offer or pursuing a purchase.
What Will the Home Inspector Do?
Typically the home inspector will arrive with a long checklist of items to examine. They will need access to the house’s interior and exterior, crawl space, roof, attic, electrical panel, furnace, and water heater. They will take pictures and make notes of their observations for the following things:
- Air conditioning, if applicable
- Structural supports
What is also important to note is what the inspector should NOT do. The American Society of Home Inspectors maintains a code of ethics that prohibits inspectors from doing any of the following:
- Receiving compensation for doing repairs on the properties they inspect for at least one year after inspection.
- Receiving compensation from more than one party for providing the inspection.
- Receiving compensation for referring work to other contractors based on the results of an inspection they perform.
- Receiving compensation for providing a home inspection on a property in which they hold a financial interest.
- Compensating real estate brokers or other interested parties for referrals
- Working under a contingency agreement that is dependent on the findings of the inspector’s report.
In short, the home inspector should be an impartial, uninterested party in the transaction. Their role is simply to inspect and inform. So with all of this in mind, let’s take a look at how to choose a good home inspector.
6 Tips for Choosing a Good Home Inspector
Hiring an inspector is a significant investment in the home buying process, so let’s make sure you get your money’s worth. When selecting an inspector, keep these six tips in mind:
1. Seek Referrals From Friends, Neighbors, and Coworkers.
Check sites such as Next Door, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Don’t go into this process blindly by accepting whoever your realtor suggests. You are the one hiring and paying for the inspector’s work, so you ultimately decide who to use. Consider reaching out to a local home builders association for referrals as well.
2. Clarify Precisely What the Inspector Will Examine for the Cost.
They should be able to provide you with a detailed list of what they will be looking at and reporting on, both inside and out. Also, verify that the inspector will include photos in the final report. Home inspections can range from $300 to $1000 depending on the scope, so have everything in writing before the job begins to avoid surprises.
Take note of anything that is not on the list of what the report will cover. For example, most home inspections do not include sewer lines and septic systems. Examination of those items usually is offered at an additional charge. Many inspectors also do not examine appliances other than to briefly turn on dishwashers and washing machines to check for gasket leaks. Verify this information before agreeing to the inspection.
In addition, the time of year and weather may impact what the home inspector can and cannot observe. If the roof and deck are covered in snow, a visual inspection may not be an option. Clarify all of these issues with the inspector ahead of time.
3. Ask to See an Example of a Report.
A qualified home inspector will be able to provide you with an example of what your final report will look like. This allows you to ask questions before hiring them and gives you an idea of how well the inspector communicates the findings. Is the sample report clear and easy to read? Does it use specific language in outlining potential problems? The sample report should answer a lot of your questions and prompt you to think of other questions.
4. Ask for a Copy of the Inspector’s License or Certification
Note that not every state requires licensing for home inspectors. You can check here to see if your state requires licensing. At the very least, verify that the inspector is insured and bonded before agreeing to a contract.
5. Find an Inspector Who is ok With You Being on Site During the Inspection.
Being present while the home inspector works is a great way to understand the findings and the process thoroughly and will allow you the chance to ask questions you might not think of if you only see the final report. An ethical, qualified inspector will not object to your presence.
6. Find out if an Inspector Has Any Specific Area of Expertise.
For example, if you are purchasing an old home, find a professional who specializes in the nuances of this type of inspection. If you are buying new construction, seek out an inspector who is well versed in these properties.
When you are ready to pursue the purchase of a property, consider Solarity as your go-to lender. We are here for you through each step of the process. Reach out today to get started on your home-ownership journey.