Make sure the inspectors that you hire are professional and qualified, will do a thorough job, and won’t be afraid to crawl under the house to make sure the floor isn’t about to cave in!
Here are nine questions that can help you to thoroughly evaluate a home inspector.
1. Are You Licensed?
A handful of states don’t have any licensing requirements at all, so it’s worth checking to see if your state requires licensing. If there are no licensing requirements, you’ll want to spend some more time looking closely at other qualifications, including training and experience.
2. Which Professional Associations Do You Belong To?
Affiliation with a national or state association of home inspectors isn’t a guarantee of professionalism, but it’s certainly a good sign. These associations often require that members keep up-to-date with training and certification. Reputable groups to look for include the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).
3. What Are Your Credentials?
Read up on the home inspector’s qualifications, and find out where they received their training. There are a number of professional organizations that provide credentials, including ASHI and NAHI. Watch out for those who claim a “company certification,” or any type of “in-house accreditation system” that’s not subject to overriding industry standards.
4. How Much Experience Do You Have?
The NAHI and ASHI require a minimum of 250 inspections. It’s important to note though, that many industry professionals say that finding someone who has performed at least 1,000 inspections and has three to five years of full-time experience is important. When browsing the home inspector’s website, watch out for wording designed to make it look like they have more experience than they actually do. Remember, “industry experience” doesn’t necessarily mean experience actually inspecting homes.
5. Are You Insured?
Even the best inspectors can make mistakes. It’s important to ask for proof of insurance for both errors and omissions and general liability. Always avoid inspectors who aren’t insured, and watch out for inspectors who severely limit their liability coverage. Some inspectors will only reimburse the customer for the cost of the inspection.
6. What’s Your Policy?
Ask about their policy involving problems that should have been picked up on in the inspection. Does the inspector stand by the report? Do they offer any guarantees? Some home inspectors offer optional 90-day warranties that will help cover repairs or replacement costs. Be sure to check into such offers, paying special attention to the fine print and exclusions.
7. What Are Your Customers Saying?
Head online to see what their past clients are saying. Many home inspectors have client reviews on websites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, and Google Plus. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints made against the inspector.
8. Are You Able to Provide a Sample Inspection Report?
This will help you to gauge how thorough their inspections will be. Most reputable home inspectors will be more than happy to provide you with one if they don’t already have one proudly displayed on their website. A home inspection report should look something like this.
9. How Long Will Your Inspection Take?
Often, you can evaluate the diligence of an inspection by how long it takes. According to ASHI, a home inspection can take two to four hours or longer, depending upon the size of the home. Specific guidelines governing what must be examined during home inspections exist in only around half the states in this country. Watch out for inspectors who offer “specials” for one-hour inspections—anything less than two hours may be an indicator of a less-than-thorough job.