A home inspector is essential to the home buying process, so it is very important that you take your time and select the right person for the job.
Many people receive recommendations about home inspectors from friends, family members, and real estate professionals, while others use consumer websites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Kudzu, and Google Local to find the right home inspector.
Regardless of how you find your home inspector, you must be sure to vet them properly before you give them the task of
inspecting your home. Here are some important qualifications to look for once you have found someone to consider.
1. Formal education and training. While many states require home inspectors to have a bachelors degree in a related field, not all states have this requirement. Colorado home inspectors, for example, do not need any sort of training whatsoever. Literally anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a home inspector. Therefore, before you hire an inspector, you are entitled to request a resume from them that describes their education and training. If they don’t have a degree in Engineering – or some specific home inspection training – you may want to keep looking.
2. Experience. Although experienced home inspectors can be slightly more expensive in some cases, they are usually worth price. New home inspectors that have only been working for a few years may have the formal education, but not the experience that really solidifies their knowledge. Try to find a home inspector that has 10 or more years of experience in the field. They will have a better idea of what to really look for, not to mention the fact that bad inspectors don’t tend to stay in business over the long haul.
3. License and insurance. Depending on the state, home inspectors may or may not need to be licensed. In states that require licensing, the inspector should be able to demonstrate that their license is current. Always check this and never take their word for it because there are some unscrupulous home inspectors that operate without the proper licenses.
Also, just as important, make sure your home inspector is insured. Insurance is a sign of a company that takes their business seriously – fly by night inspectors are much less likely to invest in insurance coverage.
4. Price. Never select a home inspector just because they are cheap. Instead, look at the entire package and consider their experience, credentials, and referrals before you hire them. Most of the time you will have to pay a little bit more to get an experienced home inspector, but they are usually well worth the cost because they can really pay off in the end. Think about it this way – paying an extra $200 for a home inspection represents one tenth of one percent of the cost of a $200,000 home. It’s a small price to pay when you’re making such a major investment.
5. Detailed reports. Any respectable home inspector will provide you with a detailed written report that outlines all of the maintenance and repair issues with the home. It should not be a simple checklist sheet (a checklist is only part of an inspection) – you should be able to receive a complete overview of the house just by reading the inspector’s report.
Finding the right home inspector can be difficult at times, but it is certainly worthwhile. A conscientious inspector can literally put money into your pocket – don’t cut corners by hiring the cheapest inspector you can find.
Author Jason Lancaster works with Home Inspection Engineers, Inc., a Denver-area home inspection service that has been in business since 1965.