A home inspection is not intended to be a substitute for a professional evaluation by a qualified structural engineer or architect. Instead, a home inspection is an objective and thorough visual examination of the home's major structural components and living areas.
A good home inspector will point out defects that may affect the property's long-term value, function, or safety and provide information on how to deal with them. However, most inspectors don't offer solutions or make repairs on site.
Helpful Interview Questions When Choosing a Home Inspector
Before hiring a professional to inspect your future home, make sure they are suitable for the job. Here are some questions to ask the candidate before you hire them:
What can you tell me about your company?
The best inspectors have extensive experience with significant safety issues and minor problem areas in homes. They also have a solid reputation and a list of references.
Do you carry errors and omissions insurance?
Errors and omissions insurance will cover the costs if an inspector misses critical problems during the inspection.
This isn't just for the inspector's protection; it's crucial for your protection so that you can get compensated if the inspector misses a major defect in the home.
How many inspections do you personally perform each year?
A professional inspector should conduct at least 100 property inspections per year and should be able to provide references from satisfied clients who have had their properties inspected.
Do you hold any special licenses or certifications?
It's essential to have a licensed and/or certified inspector. This shows that they're qualified and have met certain standards of training.
Some inspectors specialize in certain aspects of property inspections, such as commercial buildings, swimming pools, radon gas testing, mold detection, and more.
What's the scope of your pre-purchase inspection?
Confirm how much time and money your home inspector plans to spend inspecting your potential home purchase. Some inspectors do a quick walk-through to point out major structural problems, while others will give an in-depth review of every system in your potential purchase.
Most inspectors include a full report with pictures documenting their findings. Some even provide a video or virtual tour of the inspection results.
How long will your inspection take?
An accurate timeframe for the inspection is essential so that you can make arrangements for the report and your closing date.
You'll also want to know what time of day the review will take place so you can avoid scheduling other appointments in that time slot.
What type of report will I receive?
Look for an inspector who provides a detailed report with photos and recommendations rather than just a checklist of needed repairs.
Also, make sure the report is written in a language you can understand. If you're not familiar with construction terms, ask whether a glossary of terms is included or available upon request.
Do you mind if I tag along during your inspection?
A good inspector welcomes your presence during the walk-through phase of the inspection. Your inspector should be able to answer any questions you might have as they work through the home.
Tips for Selecting the Best Home Inspector
Use these tips to find and hire an expert to conduct a pre-purchase home inspection on the property you're considering buying:
Select a home inspector who is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI).
Ask friends, neighbors, and colleagues if they know someone who has used a home inspector. Check references and verify that the person was actually certified.
Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the home inspector you consider using.
Determine how long the home inspector has been in business and how often they perform inspections.
Make sure that your home inspector has liability insurance, which will protect you if your inspector makes a mistake during an inspection, such as not detecting a problem with a foundation or plumbing system discovered later.
- Find out how much time your home inspector spends on each inspection and whether they use other people to perform checks, such as electrical inspectors or mold inspectors. These individuals should also be ASHI certified.
There are potentially many home inspectors to choose from in your area, so make sure you determine which inspector will best suit your needs. A local real estate agent or someone you have worked with before could be a good place to start looking for a reliable inspector.