As per the 2000 HouseMaster Resale Home Deficiencies Study, at least 2 out of 5 pre-owned houses tend to have a minimum of 1 major defect, the repair of which could cost the new buyer an amount ranging between a few hundred dollars, to almost as high as USD 15,000.Yes, while most of us tend to skip this evaluation step, due to the extra cost incurred, the aforementioned fact clearly implies that an efficient home inspector would not add, but possibly save a significant amount of your hard-earned money. Typically, a professional home-inspection would cost you somewhere between USD 300 to USD 800, depending upon the building in question. However, this amount is almost negligible when it comes to the additional repairs that would possibly show up in the near future.
There are many details―both major and minor―that may easily be overlooked by a layman like us. However, professional home inspectors are trained and qualified to scan through the important areas such as the basement, foundation, heating and cooling system, interior plumbing, and so on. In short, their job is to make sure that the house is perfectly assembled and technically suitable for the buyer to proceed with the deal.
How to Find the Ideal Home Inspector
Do not give it a blind shot. What makes choosing a home inspector different from choosing other professional services is the fact that you cannot completely rely on recommendations, especially if they come from your real estate agent. Be cautious of such referrals as there are high chances that the inspector will be loyal towards the agent, and not towards you. Most agents and inspectors have associations with each other, wherein the agent takes commission from the home inspector, who in turn, gets regular business from the agent. Therefore, it is best to roll up your sleeves and get on with some serious independent researching.
Evaluate the Licensing Criteria
The best proof of a professional's credibility is a certificate or license, but, is it enough? Sadly, all American states do not have a mandatory licensing requirement for one to become a home inspector. Also, there are cases in which the training undertaken prior to obtaining the license is so negligible, that a license holder is no different from a non-license holder. It is best to see if the home inspector is a member of some reputed authority in the field, one of the most reliable being the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI). In fact, if you visit these websites, there is a search option that helps you locate a home inspector in your locality. Evaluating the criteria to be a member of the organization is also important to determine how easy or difficult it is, for one to become a member of the same.
Research on his Reputation and Work Records
After you have got some names to consider from, the next step would be to try to get references, and scroll through the testimonials of some satisfied customers. You may want to get in touch with the organization that the said home inspector(s) is a member of, and inquire about his work record, registered complaints (if any), and the overall reputation. You should ideally narrow down your search to those who are known as 'deal killers'. This means that they are honest workers, and scrutinize every nook and cranny of the property in question.
Interview the Inspector
Though it sounds a little too extreme, but this step is by far the most necessary one in the decision-making process. Shortlist about a minimum of three potential candidates, and schedule an interview with each one of them. Be stern and upfront regarding all your queries and doubts. Don't hesitate to check their credentials, and ask them relevant questions such as, how many inspections have they done so far, what are the most crucial areas of the house that tend to get easily neglected, and the like. You must observe the way the inspector replies to your queries. A true professional will give confident answers, and not fumble while replying.
Ask if He has Errors and Omissions Insurance
Another important question to ask the professional is if he offers any form of guarantee for his work, and if he has 'errors and omissions insurance'. There are some professional who work for firms that offer a written guarantee for their inspection. The guarantee is valid for a fixed time frame. If there arises the need to repair any area that was O.K.ed or overlooked by the inspector, previously, then the inspector needs to reimburse the client for it.
Accompany Him to an Inspection
When everything seems to be fine, ask if you could accompany him to one of his home inspections. Ideally, a true professional will have no problem with this. However, if he puts down your query, then consider that to be a warning sign. Watching the inspector work would enable you to evaluate the nitty-gritty of the whole process. You will be able to see the depth of the inspection―whether the inspector just runs through, or scans the property. Ideally, an inspection carried out by a single professional should take about 3 to 4 hours, depending upon the size and make of the property. If the inspection is over within 45 minutes or so, know that the work has not been done properly.
Check a Sample of a Final Report
Another plus point of going through his working style is that you will be familiar with what to expect in the process. An important thing is to see how the inspector prepares his final report. The organization he is affiliated to should have certain standards that he should follow while preparing the report, in terms of the areas covered, the details of the defects noticed, and the like. You must ask him to show you a sample of the same. Check if you are able to understand his writing style, and if the report consists of the site's pictures. The report should be elaborate and clear. If possible, try to get a hard copy as well as a soft copy of the report.
There are thousands of home-inspectors around; however, a majority of them are not qualified enough to meet the aforementioned requirements. It is important to give your search ample time, preferably even before you begin looking for your property. Many times, it so happens that because you have less time to find the inspector, you settle for anybody who comes to your rescue (especially the one recommended by your real estate agent); this should be avoided in case you need a genuine feedback.