Here at Ardorny.com, we have time and time again explained the importance of hiring a home inspector before you make any moves on purchasing a new home. Yet it occurred to us as of late…we’ve never given you the proper criteria for hiring a home inspector, have we? As with any professional, there are good ones and there are bad ones, and getting duped by a crappy home inspector and then buying the crappy home they just inspected would be about as close to pouring salt on a wound as we can think.
1.) What are your qualifications? Every professional will have to have some kind of credentials; otherwise they wouldn’t be able to call themselves a professional! Are they a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, the National Institute of Building Inspectors, or the National Society of Professional Engineers? Do they have specific training in construction and maintenance standards? Are they qualified to deal with the asbestos, lead-based paint or other hazardous substances that might turn up during an inspection?
2.) What is the scope of their skills? A home inspector that knows everything about the construction standards of a house, except the roof, is not going to be very useful. Make sure you’re hiring someone with all the necessary skills needed to inspect this particular home. If you have a swimming pool, for example, you’re going to need an inspector qualified in the standards of building and maintaining a home pool.
3.) Do you have a sample report? A sample report with give you an idea of everything they are going to look at, and also put your mind at ease about whether or not it’s worth it to hire a professional for this service. Home inspections are incredibly detailed, and you’ll be glad you hired someone to go through everything. It is important to make sure the report is as detailed as possible though. Narrative descriptions of issues are going to be much more useful than just a line of check-off boxes.
4.) Do you have error or omission insurance? Home inspectors are only human, and every once in a while they are going to make a mistake; you just need to make sure that mistake doesn’t end up costing you a fortune. Ask if the company has insurance, or if they stand behind each inspection.
5.) Do you have references? All professionals (and we mean all professionals) will have references. Ask for no less than three references, and if they happen to be exceptionally hard to get ahold of, ask for three more. Even if the inspector is recommended by your agent (especially if the inspector is recommended by your agent), you still need to do a little digging.
BONUS TIP: Watch out for the red flags. One red flag would be if the home inspector would prefer you weren’t around during the inspection, or uses a different report form than the sample one they handed you (there will be some differences, but you don’t want to be given a 24 page sample report and see them inspect with a two-page form). Any inspector that asks you to sign a waiver freeing them from all liability is also a red flag; the company should at least be liable for the cost of the inspection of something gets missed.