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How to choose a home inspector

Things to ask.... 

  1. Who’ll be doing the inspection; the owner or an employee. I would want the owner inspecting my house. Franchises usually send an employee who may not exercise the same level of care as the owner. Additionally, employees may not be certified and may not have the same level of experience as the owner. I would not want an employee inspecting my home.
     
  2. Is the inspector licensed in NC and SC? If you're having an inspection in SC, you still want a NC licensed inspector (the licensing requirements for NC are much more rigorous. NC also audits inspector reports and requires annual training. So be sure to hire an inspector who is also licensed in NC. (SC only requires a 40 hour course and passing a simple test. After that, you're pretty much a home inspector for life with no requirement for annual training, etc.)
     
  3. What are the inspector's qualifications? What is his educational background? How much continuing education does he receive? How long has he been a home inspector?  Is he a full-time inspector? (Many inspectors are part time and only do a few per month. I would want someone full time who’s been an inspector for 3 years or more.) Many home inspectors are previous plumbers, masons, carpenters. That’s fine, but that may mean that they are under-educated. While experience is important, you also want someone who can do research when necessary, can type, and who doesn’t use boilerplate, canned statements from a computer program, so look at their reports. Do the reports appear comprehensive, or is there a lot of "appears serviceable" to describe the components.
     
  4. Is he certified by a national association? (I'm a member of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors).
     
  5. How many inspections does he perform a day? “No more than two” is the right answer. More than two, and they fly through them and probably aren’t thorough.
     
  6. How much time will he spend on your home? (If it has a crawl space, about 3 hours would be correct for a 2,500 SF house. A slab will cut the time down by about 30 minutes.) Some inspectors are in and out before the dishwasher finishes running. Don’t go with anyone who spends less than 2 hours.
     
  7. Ask him if  he will point out significant cosmetic issues in new homes like gouges in wood floors or granite countertops, poor sheetrock installation, or other poor workmanship issues.
     
  8. Does he use lots of photographs in the report? You want that. The builder or owner will want to see it also.
     
  9. Does he check every window, every door, every outlet? Home inspectors are not required to, but I do and you should want that done.
     
  10. Find out about his physical limitations? How old is he? How much does he weigh? You want someone who can get inside an attic hatch, or crawlspace if you have one. If the roof is one story and has a low slope, will he walk on it?
     
  11. How long does it take him to get you the report? 24 hours is standard. (If he does the report in the driveway, don't expect anything more than boilerplate computerized statements and fluff about how to maintain a home.)
     
  12. Will he do a re-inspection if you want it? A re-inspect is where the inspector returns to the home to verify that corrections have been made. Many don’t do re-inspects. Find out what they charge. ˝ of the original inspection price or about $100/hour would be correct.
     
  13. How many home inspections has he personally performed? 1000 or more would be good.
     
  14. Verify the inspector’s license. I have mine online. Most don’t. Ask him to fax it to you. Believe me...there are unlicensed people out there!
     
  15. Finally..."how much do you charge for an inspection" (about the least important thing you can ask).

 

That will narrow the odds that you’ll get a good inspector. Remember...just having a license doesn't mean he's competent. Attend the inspection if you can.

 

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Last modified: 04/17/17