Buying a home, to most of us, is often an expensive, scary endeavor. Even for seasoned, experienced home-buyers, the process is typically not without some degree of trepidation and apprehension. Much of that apprehension has to do with the physical condition of the property…whether or not the house is in reasonably good condition…whether the house is really as good as it looks or is a money-pit just waiting to steal your money away in the form of unanticipated repairs and expenses.
Enter the Inspector…the guy, or gal, that will give the home a thorough assessment and report to you on its physical condition so that you can make an informed purchase decision. How are you going to effectively track down and choose a good, professional Inspector? Well, there are a few time-proven strategies:
- You might ask your family, friends, and neighbors if they’ve had any really positive experience with any particular Home Inspector. If they have, they’ll likely share that with you…and if they’ve had a bad experience, well, you’ll probably learn about that. too.
- You could ask your real estate agent for some referrals…but don’t rely on a single recommendation. I suggest asking the agent who they might hire to insect a home if they were the buyer. Or who they think is the most picky inspector; that’s the one you want to hire.
- Do some on-line research…ask questions in local forums. Check out on-line reviews; if a company has a large number of legitimate and positive reviews, they might be a good potential candidate. But beware, as in other fields, some inspectors write their own reviews; you can usually tell which one those are and they should be avoided.
Some other general tips are:
- Don’t rely on the fact that an individual possesses a state license or local business permit as any proof whatsoever that they are either overly professional or at all competent…often, that means almost nothing.
- Look for an individual that’s affiliated with a prominent and leading national Home Inspector organization…one that maintains high entry and membership standards such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); active membership in such an organization is, often, a good indication of a Home Inspectors commitment to professionalism.
- Search for complaints against the Inspector and their company…Consult the Better Business Bureau to determine if the potential Home Inspector is an accredited member company and whether or not they have any unresolved complaints against them
Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to 3 -5 potential candidates, you need to contact each of those and ask them some direct, and pointed, questions. And here is where you don’t want to shy or timid in your approach.
- Please, will you talk to me? If a Home Inspector doesn’t answer their phone or return your initial phone call in a timely manner, then move on. If an inspector can’t, or won’t, make and take time to answer you questions now, then there is good likelihood they can’t, or won’t, answer them later.
- How good are you and how long have you been doing this? If an inspector doesn’t exude confidence, move on. Likewise, if an inspector doesn’t have a significant amount of experience under their belt, you might better keep searching. Everyone has to learn sometime…but maybe you don’t want them gaining their basic experience on your home.
- What kind of report will I receive?…Look for an answer that suggests a narrative style report…or at least a combination narrative/checklist type of report. What you need is a good Home Inspection report that clearly identifies any issues in readily understood language presented in complete and grammatically correct language.
- How soon will I receive your report? Most professional Home Inspectors will provide their report to you, electronically, within 24 hours of the completion of the Home Inspection and this is what you should expect.Can I be there…with you? It’s important that you be able to attend every moment of your Home Inspection should you desire to do so; the inspection should be a time during which you are able to learn about the house and to get your questions answered. An Inspector who discourages your presence should be avoided at all cost.
Following some basic guidelines, doing specific research, and asking some pointed question of potential Home Inspectors will go far in helping you find a good Home Inspector and, hopefully, a good experience with that Inspector.