To avoid any disastrous surprises after purchasing a home, it’s highly recommended that you hire a quality home inspector. Additionally, it’s best practice to choose a home inspector before you make an offer on a home, as you’ll likely need to move quickly once an offer is submitted.
But what should you look for in a home inspector? Our checklist below should help you find a home inspector you can rely on.
There are 2 major professional organizations for home inspectors, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). On the above websites, you can search for any home inspector to see if they’re certified by each respective organization. Certification by either of these organizations is not a requirement to be a professional home inspector. In fact, some states don’t even require home inspectors to be licensed at the state level.
That being said, if an inspector is certified by either of the above organizations, it’s a good indicator that the inspector is serious about their work. These organizations require rigorous processes to maintain certification, typically much more than is required at the state level.
Speaking of state certifications, the ASHI website includes a feature to see the applicable home inspection requirements in your state. If the state does require inspectors to be licensed, the state agency’s website will typically include a search tool to verify that your inspector’s license is current.
2. A Normal Price
If you’re interviewing multiple home inspectors, it could be tempting to go with whoever has the lowest price. However, if one home inspector’s prices are significantly lower than everyone else you speak to, that should be a red flag that something is wrong. A qualified, experienced home inspector is not typically going to charge bargain barrel prices. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should look for the highest price either. Just be wary of any deal that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.
As with most professions, it’s usually a good sign if a home inspector has plenty of experience. That experience can come in different forms; many home inspectors have background experience in construction or as a contractor, which is a positive. At the same time, that experience is not necessarily a substitute for years of experience working as a home inspector.
Keep in mind that experience alone doesn’t necessarily indicate that someone will do the best job. You may like your introductory call with a more novice home inspector who checks off the rest of your boxes. Plus, if a novice home inspector is certified by an organization like ASHI, they’ve likely been mentored by more experienced inspectors as a requirement of their certification.
If you’re still shopping for a home, you may not know what type of specialty experience you will need. However, if you are able to narrow down specific types of experience you’ll need (such as new construction, or if you know you’re purchasing an older home), that should help find the right inspector for the job.
This type of specialization is important when it comes to non-typical issues that a general home inspection may not always need. For example, if you’re purchasing a much older home, you may want someone with experience testing for lead.
It may not occur to you to request references from a few past customers, but this should not be a surprise to the home inspector. You’ll want to ask these customers about the inspection process, how well the inspector communicated (before, during, and after the job), and how comprehensive the inspection report was.
Other resources are your state government website and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can look for any complaints about the home inspector and see if any disciplinary actions were taken against them in the past.
Make sure your home inspector has liability insurance. Why is this important? Because on the off chance something happens to damage the home during inspection, the seller could potentially take legal action against you! Although this is rare, the cost could be substantial. Your home inspector’s liability insurance will ensure that you don’t end up paying for any accidental mishaps.
They may also have Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance. This covers the inspector, and yourself, if they miss something big that should have been caught during the inspection. If an experienced home inspector does their job, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s still good to know they have it.
7. They Want You to Be There!
An experienced home inspector will encourage home buyers to be there for the inspection. If this is not possible, they’ll likely ask that you at least show up at the end to review the inspection report together. If a home inspector seems indifferent to you being there for the inspection, or worse, actively suggests that you not be there, that should be a major indicator that something is wrong.