Search the Internet and you’ll find any number of articles that tell you how to find and hire the right home inspector. In this inspector's humble opinion, here are the three most important things to do when hiring your home inspector:
1. Due Diligence: First thing to do is check out the inspector’s license. In Virginia, home inspectors must be licensed through the Virginia Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Here is the link http://www.dpor.virginia.gov. The DPOR website will show the license status and expiration date (good to know to make sure you’re not hiring an inspector with an expired license). Reputable inspectors should be a member of either ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). Both are outstanding organizations and promote home inspector excellence through training. Look at the inspector’s website, Google Business page, and any other Internet sources about them you can dig up. Read their reviews – what do their customers say? Keep in mind that even the best inspector may have a less than rosy review. Ask people you trust what they may know about the inspectors you are considering.
2. Sample report: The sample report can tell you a lot about the inspector. How thorough are they? When describing an issue, does the inspector use language that is clear, understandable and not overly alarming or dramatic? Does the inspector seem reasonable and balanced, or do they make a major issue out of every little flaw? Do they use the word “code” in their report (a home inspection is NOT a code inspection)? Are the pictures clear? How about spelling and grammar? Home inspectors aren’t expected to be English majors but the report should not look like it was written by a third-grader. Is the information in the report really useful to you as the prospective buyer, or is it just filler?
3. Interview: Once you’ve narrowed your list of prospects down to the final candidates, call them. Even if you were given the inspector’s name by a trusted source, call them and talk for a few minutes to see if they seem like a good fit for you. Any home inspector who wants to work for you should be willing to give you a few minutes of their time. Do they encourage the client to attend the inspection? If not, that should raise a red flag. How many inspections do they do in a day? If they’re in a hurry to get to the next job, they may not give your inspection the time and attention it deserves. Asking about prices is expected, but be very careful about hiring based solely on price. You will get what you pay for. No doubt you can think of many other questions to ask your prospective home inspector. Talking to the inspector will give you an idea of their personality, communication abilities and people skills. I once had a realtor call me out of the blue because his regular home inspector wasn’t available. Two years later we’re still working together, and he later told me one big reason he hired me was because I took the time to talk to him and I “sounded like a nice guy” when we spoke on the phone (I am a nice guy, by the way). If the home inspector sounds open, honest and sincere and you get a good vibe from talking with them, you may have a winner.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Finding and hiring the right home inspector can help make the home buying process less stressful. So search carefully and choose wisely. You’ll be glad you did.
Want to interview a home inspector? I’d love to talk with you.
The main reason is because they're misleading. A home inspector’s job is to observe and report, nothing more. Saying a house “passed” or “failed” an inspection is really going beyond and rendering an opinion. What is considered “passing” or “failing” by one inspector may not be so for another. The worst house we ever inspected had some $13,000 in needed repairs, but it did not “fail” the inspection. It was just a house needing a lot of attention. We reported what we saw in clear, candid and non-alarming language and everyone was satisfied. The buyer knew what they were getting and the sale went through because we avoided using misleading language.
When it comes to the word “code,” many people, including some home inspectors, confuse a home inspection with a code inspection. They are not the same. A home inspection is a limited, visual, non-invasive examination of a home’s condition at a given point in time. A code inspection is just that – An inspection of the home’s components and systems (HVAC, plumbing, structure, etc.) to determine if they conform to required codes. Home inspectors need to be familiar with various codes so they can recognize and point out issues observed during the inspection, but they are not code inspectors. Even if an inspector also happens to be a licensed electrician, plumber, etc., it would still be wise to avoid using the word “code” because it could give the client the wrong impression.
Using these words doesn’t mean the inspector is bad or dishonest. It just means they may need to work on their communication skills or re-examine their understanding of what a home inspection is. Doing a great inspection is important, but just as important is communicating the findings to the client clearly and candidly. Avoiding misleading language will go a long way towards accomplishing that objective.
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