Four Tips To Help You Choose A Quality Home Inspection
Buying a home can be quite intimidating. It may be the single largest purchase you will ever make. You will definitely want the best possible home inspector in your corner. The independent home inspector can give you an unbiased opinion of the condition of your dream home before you take that final plunge. Both the cost and expertise of a Home Inspector can vary greatly. How can you be sure that you choose the Home Inspector that is, quite frankly, the best?
First, you need to understand what it is that a home inspector does. I like to think of Home Inspectors as “expert generalist.” I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who claimed the title of “jack of all trades, master of none.” A list of what is included in the inspection should be made available. In those states that require that home inspectors be licensed there is either a state issued standard or they have adopted the ASHI or NAHI standard. Both of these Home Inspector associations provide additional certification and have their standards and practices available on their respective websites. When you see the rather extensive list of what should be inspected you will realize that home inspectors need to have a general knowledge of every single aspect of the home they are inspecting. For instance, a licensed electrician may have extensive knowledge about lights, outlets, breaker panels and wiring. However, he may have little to no knowledge about foundations, plumbing, or roofing.
So, Tip number one: Look for an inspector that has varied knowledge and experience
States like Kentucky that issue licenses require training, but that training may be minimal and classroom hours cannot replace years of hands on experience. Don’t be afraid to ask a home inspector to outline his experience.
Tip number two: Don’t accept your agents recommendation without doing your own investigation
This is not to say that your real estate agent would bring in a “ringer” and not want you as a buyer to be fully informed. But, there is a fiduciary conflict of interest inherent to the relationship. In real estate, most would agree that ten percent of the agents sell ninety percent of the properties. So, who is to say that your agent has enough personal experience with an inspector or company to give a first-hand recommendation?
Ask your agent, point-blank, “would you use any of these inspectors if you were buying this home for you and family. But, what is important here is not where the recommendation came from, rather that you personally do your own investigation.
Tip number three: Select a home inspector that uses the most modern technology
“Thermal imaging is a non-invasive, non-destructive way of evaluating conditions below the surface. Because everything from faulty wiring to the presence of termites to mold to wet insulation affects the surrounding temperature, heat-sensitive photography can reveal these and other issues that just cannot be seen by the naked eye or with conventional or digital photography.”, says Dan Schuerman, a manager with PDmB, Inc., a home inspection software manufacturer.
Technology in the home inspection industry is exploding at an incredible rate. Find an inspector that is keeping pace with the most current advances in home inspection technologies i.e. boroscopes, moisture meters, digital thermometers, CO detectors, etc…
Tip number four: Choose the report that is easy to understand and includes the areas you are most concerned about
When you boil it down the report should be your most important consideration. When all the dust settles the report will be the single remaining remnant of your investment. Make sure that you get a sample report. Check out the format as this can vary greatly from one firm to another. Are photos included in the report and how well are they integrated in relation to reported issues? Some reports include photos, however they an indexed at the end and require constant page turning.
How are issues classified in the report? For instance, major concern, minor concern, repair/replace, safety hazard or are issues rated by cost. Holmes on homes noted an inspection report that listed over 250 inspection points as “serviceable”. A limited number of classifications can make a report tedious and may not provide the benefit of long-term budgeting for items with say a ten-year or five-year life expectancy.
Another great question is how the report addresses repairs or maintenance issues. Are there clear suggestions for the appropriate professional to address the concern? Are repair and maintenance recommendations included? And finally, is the language of the report full of technical jargon or is the information communicated in a way that is easily understood by the average home buyer?
In conclusion, finding the right home inspector can bring tremendous information to the table at a time when you can use it the most. Having an independent professional come along side of you and helping you to formulate a quality decision can make your buying experience far less stressful. You will not regret the time you spent researching and interviewing your local home inspection choices it will simply add to your peace of mind.