So you have finally found your dream home and you are prepared to make an offer. However, like anyone with sense you want to make certain that there are no “skeletons in the cupboard” so you decide to hire a home inspector in order to check everything over before making your offer. So far, so good.
However, now you are presented with another problem. What are the qualifications – and more importantly the experience – of the home inspector you are considering? Here is the first problem: almost anyone can call himself a “home inspector”. It is essential to look deeper into the history of the inspector that you are considering.
While the inspector may have certification, it is far more important that he has several years of experience. It takes time and many inspections to gain that instinctive feeling that something is wrong with a property and needs further investigation.
You Would Automatically Ask For References
If you were hiring a builder, a window installer, or a landscape gardener, you would automatically ask for references and look at the gallery of completed works on their website. Much the same applies to a home inspector, and you most certainly want him to be able to supply you with a sample report or two that he has created for previous clients. You don’t want to be in a position where you have to pay for your home inspection twice because the first inspector did not cover all the bases.
There are some obvious things that you can look at yourself. However, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that this is only a checklist and is in no way a substitute for a full report from a qualified inspector.
The Report Should Run To 30 Pages Or More
A report should run to at least 30 pages and should most certainly not be hand-written. It also needs to be presented in plain English that you can understand, not in some technical language that makes the inspector “look good” and which you don’t like to question for fear of being made to look foolish. You are the client and you are paying, so you have the right to be able to understand the report.
Another point to check is how many inspections are carried out every year. A thorough inspection is going to take around three to three and a half hours, which means that an inspector working full time for five days a week will only be able to carry out a maximum of 500 inspections a year, and maybe less.
On the other side of the coin, an inspector only doing one or two inspections a week is very likely to be held in less esteem by lenders, real estate agents, and previous clients such as property investors, so may be best avoided.
You should also ask the inspector what tools he is using. Not so many years ago a home inspector would simply use his eyes. Today, technology has come on in leaps and bounds. Your inspector can use a thermal imaging camera to identify potential hazards such as termite infestation, electrical problems, damp problems, lack of – or faulty – insulation, roof problems, and more. He also has available laser thermometers, outlet testers, moisture meters, handheld computers, and more, with which to conduct the most thorough inspection possible. Ask a potential home inspector whether he makes use of such technology.
Another very important point is that no home inspector should ever offer to carry out repairs, either before you purchase the property or afterwards. The conflict of interests is massive. You can easily see that it would be in the interests of an inspector to find faults that may or may not exist if he was likely to earn more as a result of fixing them later on. This sort of activity is banned by all home inspection associations.
You may also wish to ask the home inspector about his membership of any national or local associations governing home inspection.
A Local Inspection Company Or National Chain?
Another point to consider is whether the home inspection company is part of a national chain, or is locally based. If part of a national chain, it is quite likely that no-one is monitoring the performance of individual inspectors on a day to day basis, and under circumstances such as this it is very possible for standards to slip.
As with any other form of contractor, you should ask the home inspector for references. If you were having a home built you would automatically expect the builder to supply references, but in the case of a home inspector – or for that matter an accountant or lawyer – it is easy to slip into the situation where you consider that he is an “expert” and therefore “must” know what he is doing. You may not be having a home built, but you are proposing to live in it.
There may be circumstances where the home has been built several years beforehand, but not to the correct standard. If the person who had the home built did not also have all the necessary inspections done during the construction stage it is very possible that the builder or his employees made mistakes that could cause problems many years later. It is the job of a professional home inspector to pinpoint these if they exist.
So before you appoint a home inspector simply because you think it is the “right thing to do” (it is, of course) make certain that you are appointing an inspector upon whose report you can rely.
Click the following link to learn about the sample home inspection report.
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