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5 tips for choosing the best home inspector

Okay, you’ve found the house, your offer has been accepted, and financing is in place. But before you call the movers; make sure you hire a professional home inspector to be certain that your new house doesn’t have any major defects that could cost you grief and money down the road.

A home inspection typically includes an examination of structural components, roof, heating and central air conditioning systems, interior plumbing, electrical systems, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, foundations, garages and crawlspaces. Inspections may also include appliances and outdoor plumbing such as irrigation systems.

After the inspector examines the house, he or she will write up a report with findings. If there are any major problems, you’ll need to negotiate with the seller to either lower the sale price of the home, or determine how the problem will be fixed.

When you make an offer it’s wise to have a contingency clause based on the home inspection. In other words, if the inspector finds $10,000 worth of problems and the seller doesn’t want to cover the repairs costs, you can rescind your offer.
In fact, two in five resale houses will have at least one major defect that could cost you from a few hundred dollars to as much as $15,000 to repair, according to the 2000 HouseMaster Resale Home Deficiencies Study.

Some of the questions you should ask a potential inspector include:

  • Experience. How long has the inspector been in business? They may tell you that they have many years of experience but in what field? Check their license number to see if it is valid and it will also tell you how long they have been a home inspector. The more experienced a home inspector is, the more they have seen, the more likely it is they will be able to detect any less obvious problems. Seasoned, professional home inspectors will be full-time home inspectors, not renovators or contractors.
  • What does the inspection cover? Make sure the inspection and the inspection report meet all applicable requirements and comply with the ASHI Standards of Practice.
  • Does the inspector’s company offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection? The answer should always be NO. This is against the ASHI Code of Ethics because it is a blatant conflict of interest.
  • How long will the inspection take? The average for a single inspector is two to three hours for a typical single-family house; anything less may not be enough time to do a thorough inspection.
  • How much will it cost? Costs vary quite a bid depending on the region, size of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range might be $350-500, but consider the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made.

Finally, once you’ve found an inspector you like, ask him for references, then follow up and contact those clients. Two key questions—whether they discovered any major defects after the close of escrow that the inspector missed, and whether they would use the inspector again.

About the author

Todd Johnson has been a home inspector in the Tampa Bay area since 1998. He is extremely detail oriented and takes great satisfaction in his work. Todd understands the importance of the inspection and how much is riding on it; after all, it's YOUR home! Call Todd at Frontline Inspections today at (727) 460-2655