A home inspector is an individual who is certified to inspect a home for issues and advise a potential homeowner of any existing problems with the property. Home inspectors typically check the home after the initial offer has been made on a home for sale, and before the final date for withdraw of the offer. Hiring a reputable home inspector is an important part of the home buying process.
When choosing a home inspector, there are a few important things to consider. Since a home purchase hinges on what an inspector finds during his inspection, it is essential to be sure that he knows how to do his job. Potential homeowners should not simply take the advise of their Realtor, but rather look into the qualifications and reputation of the inspector they plan to hire
The inspector's qualifications are essential. They should be certified by one of various boards such as the National Association of Home Inspectors, American Society of Home Inspectors or National Institute of Building Inspectors. Most of the websites for these organizations allow users to search for qualified inspectors in their area. Also use this website to check the qualifications that a home inspector must have to be included in the society they belong to, as some have very weak requirements.
Experience is a must, whether it is home inspection experience, schooling, or a background that makes them qualified to inspect. Ideally, a home inspector will have some experience in a related field like construction, building maintenance, or engineering. If they do not have a background in one of these topics, years of experience and accredited schooling can make up that difference.
References are important to consider, especially those outside of a home buyer's Realtor. If the Realtor is extremely familiar with their work they can provide one reference for you, but should not be the only one. Great inspectors will have copies of references available in their information packet or website. Follow up the reference search with a check for complaints filed with the various boards or on other websites.
Each inspector has a separate set of rules for what they will inspect. Some will not check outside structures or land, while others may not climb onto the roof or check appliances. If the house in question has a swimming pool, that should be considered as well.
The best inspectors will provide a detailed report on the property including pictures and recommendations. Others will file a standard several page report. Ask to see a sample report to understand what they will check for and what result you can expect. The more detailed, the better.
The inspector's policy on errors or omissions is also an important fact to find out. They should have some kind of guarantee on their work and a set of things that they absolutely will not be liable for. Since inspectors cannot see inside a wall, they are not expected to know an electrical or plumbing issue that is not visible from in a room. They should however have a guarantee that they are correct on what they can see.
Finally, home buyers should be present during the inspection if at all possible. Asking questions ensures a potential homeowner that they are getting what they are paying for and allows them to see any problems firsthand. A quality home inspector should welcome questions and be very open with what they see.
Buying a home is a very serious financial and personal decision. The decision of who to choose for the inspection should be equally serious. A home inspector's report could be the assurance that potential homeowners need, or the words of wisdom that advise against a purchase.