When you are buying a house for the first time, second time, or any time after that it’s always best to get a home inspection done prior to closing on a house. I imagine, most of you would likely agree with me when I say that having a home inspection is a fairly important part of buying your first home. This article will dive into how to find a home inspector, what to ask and where to look.
Buying a home is a huge purchase and spending a relatively small amount of money on a home inspection (to help ensure there aren’t any unwanted surprises) goes a long way in providing you peace of mind. Especially at a time when uncertainty, and a lack of confidence, are probably two of your most common emotions.
That being said, the last thing we want is a false sense of security given by someone who’s not qualified to be doing home inspections in the first place.
Where to look to find a home inspector
It’s important to note, that home inspection industry regulations vary by region (state, city, county, etc.). Some have extensive requirements to be a licensed home inspector, some have minimal requirements, and some have none at all.
It falls on you, as the home buyer, to properly vet an inspector to ensure that he or she is qualified to do the job we’re asking of them.
So, how do we make sure that happens? Below is a short list of questions to ask a home inspector or home inspection company before you hire them to inspect your potential future home.
You might even be able to answer some of these questions on your own by visiting the company’s website.
Other places to find a home inspector
Yup, good ol’ Google, another quick and easy way to find a home inspector.
While we are on the topic of Google…
We suggest always doing some research on your home inspector you plan to use. Search for things like: home inspector name + complaints or home inspector’s name + issues.
Never accept someone onto your team without doing some background research to ensure it’s a good fit and you’re comfortable with your decision.
Ask family, friends, co-workers and others in your network:
This is probably the best way to find a home inspector. Chances are you know someone who recently bought a house and used a home inspector when they bought a place. Reaching out to your network is often one of the best (and easiest!) ways to find a home inspector, especially one that comes recommended.
Ask your real estate agent:
Chances are your real estate agent knows a few home inspectors they can recommend. Working with a home inspector that is part of your real estate agent’s team can speed up the process. Even if your real estate agent makes a suggestion, always make sure to do a bit of your own research, rather than going into it blindly and simply accepting their suggestion. There are some unscrupulous people out there that will hire their friends or collude with a home inspector to make the sale go through.
Bottom line you need to do your due diligence on whoever you hire.
What to ask a home inspector? 8 Important Questions to Ask
Q: Are you a licensed home inspector in this State?
A: Obviously, you want a yes here. However, not all states even have regulations to become a licensed home inspector, so sometimes this question doesn’t hold much weight. If there is qualifications needed though, you definitely want that person to have them.
Q: Are you a part of any home inspector associations?
A: This isn’t necessarily a MUST have, but if they are, you can visit that association’s website and see what the qualifications are to be a member of that association. Often the associations can have stricter rules to be a member than the state has for being a qualified inspector.
Basically it’s just another question to qualify them and make sure they’re legit. I doubt there are too many fly by night inspectors that take the time to be members of home inspection associations.
There are many good associations out there – too many to list – as there are national, international and even different ones that are state specific. Once you know which association, if any, that they’re part of, you can do some research on that particular association.
Q: Are you a full time inspector?
A: It’s not that part time inspectors aren’t going to do a good job, it’s just a little different when someone’s livelihood depends on the future success of their business. Someone who is full time and doing this as a long term career has much more motivation to do a good job and ensure they have word of mouth advertising that goes along with that. Which brings us to the next question…
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Ideally, as long as possible, but 5-10 years would be a good start. You want the company to be around long enough to have gained some experience and hopefully a solid reputation. If it has a bad reputation, that should be showing through by that 5-10 year mark as well.
Q: Do you have any references?
A: Make sure they have them, and make sure you check them. Ideally you’d get references who have lived in the home that was inspected for a couple years. This would give ample time for issues to show up that the inspector might have missed. Ask for references from 2-3 years ago.
Q: What is included in the inspection?
A: The first part of the answer will likely be all around proper reports and paperwork for the inspection. The report should include what they checked what their findings are and what recommendations they have.
The second part, is a list of every part of the house that is included in the inspection. This should include, but is not limited to: foundation, attic, roof structure, structural components, mold, insulation, plumbing, heating and ventilation system, air conditioning, electrical system, windows and doors, ceilings, floors and walls.
Q: Do you have errors and omissions insurance?
A: If something ever does go wrong, and it’s something that definitely should have been caught by the inspector, you want that person to be insured so you have some recourse. You can successfully sue an inspector for being negligent, but if that person or company doesn’t have the money to pay you, or isn’t insured, you’re still left footing the bill.
Q: Can I join the walk-through with you on the inspection?
A: This is a valuable learning experience that you don’t want to miss out on. Being along on the inspection will give you a chance to ask questions and get to know the nuts and bolts of your potential future home.
Final Thoughts on How to Find a Home Inspector
Finally, make sure that the home inspector has no affiliation with anyone who has a vested interest in you purchasing the property in question. Of all people, you really need this person to be neutral.
At what point should you go find a home inspector? Ideally, you would want to secure an inspector before you start looking at homes. It’s nice to have done all the leg work and research on this person or company before you get too far through the process. If you want to narrow down the houses you are looking at you can always use our home inspection checklist as a jump start.
Generally, you wouldn’t book an inspection until you have a conditional accepted offer, so trying to find an inspector on short notice and, when you need them, won’t allow you the time needed to properly vet them.
One last note of importance: Home Inspectors are still human, and don’t have some kind of secret x-ray vision that can see through walls. Neither do they have the ability to predict the future. Keep this in mind throughout the process and remember that a home inspection definitely provides great peace of mind and assurance as you move forward with a possible home purchase, but definitely isn’t a 100% guarantee.