IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK A HOME INSPECTOR
A good home inspection is crucial to a comfortable home ownership and financial security. This is especially true when buying pre-existing homes. As the house becomes older, the need for home inspection grows. This is because as the house ages so does the materials used to build it. A home inspection is also necessary when buying a new house, even if you built the house yourself to avoid future pit falls.
When thinking about getting a home inspection consider this African proverb of the Edo peoples of Nigeria. “The monkey said she will only trust her unborn child and not a child on her back no matter how young”. According to the monkey, since she has no eyes on her back she has no way of knowing what her baby is doing with her hands behind her. As the saying also goes, do not be penny smart and pound foolish. Think about it.
Do you specialize in residential inspection?
Like in law and medicine, inspectors often have their areas of expertise. Being experienced in home construction or engineering while helpful should never be a substitute for training and experience in the specialized area of home inspection. If your request is for a commercial property inspection then you need an inspector with specialization in that area.
What is covered in the inspection?
A complete inspection report is an inspection report that meets all applicable state requirements and complies with a well-known standard of practice and code of industry ethics. A good inspector should be able to provide to you at your request a copy of these items for your review before the time of inspection and answer any relevant questions you may have. If there are any areas of the property of concern to you that you want inspected, do not hesitate to inform or point them out to the inspector.
Are you a member of any home inspector association?
Home inspectors usually belong to state and national inspectors associations. Request to see the inspector’s membership ID and check them out as you wish before offering them a the inspection contract.
Are you allowed to bid on the repairs after inspection?
This should be an issue of personal judgment for you, the contractor. Some state regulations and inspector associations allow the inspector to bid for and perform repair work on problems they discovered during their inspection. Other regulations and associations see this practice as a conflict of interest and strictly forbid it.
What experience and how many inspections have you done?
This is important and the inspector should be able to provide you with his/her history in the profession along with some names of references for recommendations regarding their works and ethics. However, being a new inspector should not be seen as a disqualification as many new inspectors often work with a partner or have access to more experienced inspectors to assist them with the inspection in time of needs.
How long will the inspection take?
A typical on-site inspection time for an individual (alone) inspector is 2 - 3 hours for a single family house. Thorough inspections may not be done for much less time. Bigger properties or buildings usually require many inspectors and more hours or visits to get done.
Do you participate in regular continuing education?
With changes in all trades so rapid in today's age of internet, an inspector who spends time and money on continuing education shows a good commitment to his/her profession and a dedication to excellent service for his/her consumers. This is especially important when the house is much older or includes unique elements that require additional and frequent training and improvements.
How much do you charge?
The costs of an inspection varies widely, depending on the type of services required, the region of the country, rural versus urban properties, distance from the nearest inspector, the age and size of the house, etc. A typical price range might be $275-$500, usually tax deductible but a necessary investment to prevent unnecessary future costs. HUD does not regulate home inspection fees because the cost of an inspection does not necessarily equate quality. Inspection cost for a commercial property come much higher.
Can I attend the inspection?
If you have the time this could be a very valuable educational opportunity, and the inspector should be able to accommodate your request. An inspector's refusal to allow this request should call their ethic and judgment into question with you. Never pass up an opportunity to see your potential home through the eyes of the inspector if you can.
What type and how long does it take to get the report?
This is very important for those who want to know what their report will contain, to see if they can understand the contents and for those who are anxious to close on a property as soon as possible. Ask to review previous copies of the inspector’s works to see if you can understand his/her report and also if the time elements meet your needs. Most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours from the time of inspection.