Some thoughts on how to choose a Home Inspector
I will attempt to break down this question as we are seeing some really strange trends in our current economy and housing Market.
As I've been a Home Inspector in Lancaster CA for many years I'm often asked the same question over and over again. Clients, friends and many other "folks" want to know what separates one Home Inspector from the next. I will begin with a variation of a checklist that can be found at my website linked in this article.
When choosing someone to inspect your Real Estate Purchase it's important to remember a few things:
I recommend Making a "Checklist" and calling a few Home Inspectors in your area - try not to book the first one you call! You'll notice in a series of recommendations I have YOU ASK... I didn't mention PRICE until the end.
By the way, if our "candidate" is in the middle of an inspection and needs to call back, that's fine! Don't get into a hurry!
Experience - Ask the Home Inspector "What type of experience do you have. How long have you been in business? What type of Industry related experience do you have besides being an inspector?"
We're trying to get an idea as to how long our "candidate" has been around and what his or her background may be. I'm sorry to say but we don't want newbies inspecting our expensive purchases. I also don't want someone who... no offense here, was working at a Retail Store this or last year and is now responsible for helping me decide on the most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make.
Are you a member of a Professional Organization and are you "Certified"? The answer here should be YES.
This topic has some debate as to which certifying body is "better", I could care less. It's like saying your Real Estate Agent is better because they are from one large firm and not the other. The idea here is that an inspector has made a commitment to be a professional. If they are not a member of Nachi, ASHI or NAHI to name a few... I'd want to know why!
Do you carry Insurance? The only answer here is YES.
If you are a buyer or a Real Estate agent, recognize the fact that most professional and full time inspectors carry insurance. If you as an Agent are "shopping" for your client, be careful if your inspector doesn't have insurance, you may be liable as the "referring party".
Are you INDEPENDENT? The answer here should be again, YES
Sorry if this sounds bad, but most Good inspectors I know are independent inspectors... Distant from any binding agreements with "outside" parties limiting their scope and ability to "talk freely" about their thoughts and findings.
Are you LICENSED? The answer here will vary, check with your local areas or state's website.
Many states (no Licenses are required in California by the way) have License Requirements for Home Inspectors that require State Licenses. Inquire with your State's Website before you call an inspector. As a Home Inspector in Lancaster CA we have very few requirements here, but this will vary from state to state and area to area.
Who will perform my Inspection? Preferably, the answer for this one is "Me"
Here is another one that I get some "flack" for. In a perfect world, the person answering the phone will be the person inspecting your Real Estate purchase. A couple of reasons for this include: A Real Estate Inspection can be a liability if performed poorly and should be done so by the person who would be responsible! Let's think about this for a minute... If I have someone that works for me... would they be more likely to mention an "obscure or minor" item knowing that "it's no big deal and shoot, I'm not responsible anyway" or as ME the owner.. knowing that liability AND reputation are on the line? Easy one I think!
What type of Inspection Report will I receive?
While the best report will come from the best inspector, I've decided that the Checklist paper type are too antiquated and are nearly obsolete. They are easier for me, the Home Inspector to use, but are easily less informative than the computerized reports that I now use. It's the 21st century, request a computerized report with pictures for goodness sake! The inspector generally has the ability to store relevant information and common situations that are relevant to your local area and the paper type are generally not. I could be wrong on a small scale, but not by much!
Can I attend the Inspection?
The answer here is a very important inspector should actually "encourage" you to be there. If they didn't I consider it a red flag, unless you indicated prior to asking this question that you couldn't be there! The reason I say it's a red flag is because of this, a shy or reserved type of person may be a great inspector, but is likely to find it difficult to be comfortable explaining items and "being under the gun". Does that make sense? It should! So this is actually a good time to tell if your inspector is a "Chatty Kathy" or "Mr. No personality". There is a really bad inspector in my area that people really like and he does well, simply because he is so friendly and well spoken. His or her clients should be reading these questions before calling him though:-)
How long will it take to get my Inspection Report? The answer should be either: Soon or Very soon!
Meaning this, inspectors that takes several days, especially during the workweek to deliver reports creates a lot of problems. This is because: Most inspectors I know have very good memories, but good enough to have 4-6 reports backed up and waiting to be written? No, of course not. Myself, I have most of my report done when I'm leaving the inspection, thanks to the advent of a portable tablet style laptop ( a necessity in my book) I could probably go "out to the truck" and send it out. I don't though. I insert my photos and proof read my work and send it out later that day or by the next morning or so. We all have ways that work for us, I just don't see how many inspectors can write accurate reports several days after leaving the job site.
Can I call you if I have any questions after the inspection or after I receive my report?
Most inspectors are going to say YES! Try to remember in this "interview" with your potential home inspector whether you got a feel that this person is a sociable one or just in a hurry to get off the phone. As mentioned, if he or she is in the field and offers to call back, don't hold it against them. See if they do and think of it as an opportunity to see if they do as they say! After all it's easier to answer a phone that to make time to call people back. The last question should be "How Much". Not to say that this isn't important to you, it just should carry a smaller "weight" if you will. I think that people put way too much emphasis on the cost of a Home Inspection rather than looking at some facets that I have made available for you here!
I will be writing another article on a topic " I'm buying a Home As-Is, should I get it Inspected?" Yes you should, I'll write more about it soon.
I hope that you find this tips helpful and if I can be of further service visit my website Home Inspection in Palmdale CA.
Thanks again for reading and good luck!
By Tim Spargo, Certified Residential and Commercial Real Estate Inspector