A home purchase, for most of us, is the biggest purchase we will make in our lifetime. The “perfect” home you and your realtor found in the perfect neighborhood which looks like it is the home you have been dreaming of, could hold all sorts of unwanted and costly surprises. By asking a few simple questions, you can find the Best Home Inspector to ensure your new dream home does not turn into a nightmare.
Before hiring the first inspector you find, see if he is the Best Home Inspector by correctly answering these 10 questions.
Most states require licensing and or certification of the best home inspectors. This normally requires the inspector to meet minimum educational and/or experience requirements, pass a knowledge-based test, obtain liability insurance and perform continuing education. In most states licensing can be verified through the state licensing authority. For the state of Florida, you can verify licensing here.
2. Are you a member of one of the professional inspection organizations?
Nachi, The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and Nahi, National Association of Home Inspectors. Both organizations offer Standards of Practice as a guideline for home inspectors to follow. They also offer training, technical support, continuing education and other recourses that are important to home inspectors that strive to be the Best Home Inspector. Membership in the organizations can be verified Here for Nachi and Here for Nahi.
3. Do you have construction experience?
The Best Home Inspectors will have worked in the construction industries. To really know what is going on inside the walls, the floors and the attic you must understand how the structure is put together. It is also very important to be familiar with the local building codes. As a home inspector, you must be able to recognize major building code issues and safety concerns. As a Home Inspector with 20 plus years of construction experience, I know that I would not be as effective without that experience. The best home inspector will have a contractor license or certification.
4. Do you carry E&O insurance along with liability insurance?
The state of Florida and most other states require all licensed Home Inspectors to carry liability insurance. This insurance covers damage to property or persons caused by the Home Inspector. It does not cover defects missed by the Inspector. As important, if not more important to you the buyer, is E&O insurance (error and omission) insurance. This insurance helps protect the inspector and buyer in case a costly defect is overlooked. This insurance is expensive so many Inspectors do not carry it. This type of insurance is NOT required by the state of Florida and most other states. Only the Best Home Inspectors make this investment.
5. How long will the inspection take?
On average, a home inspection will take between 2 and 3 hours. This will, of course, vary depending on the size of the home, the age of the home and the condition of the home. It is impossible to do a thorough inspection of an average size home in an hour. If the inspector says he can complete it in an hour, he is probably taking shortcuts.
6. What items do you inspect?
The Best Home Inspector will use a reporting software or a printed checklist which he can follow during the inspection. On average, I inspect 400 items during a home inspection. Without a checklist, I would never remember everything I needed to check. If the inspector does not use some sort of reporting software or at least a checklist, do not hire that inspector. The inspector should check all the major mechanicals such as the water heater, AC, electrical and plumbing as well as the roof, walls, flooring windows, and doors etc… If there is a pool or outbuildings or other structures those should be inspected as well. There may be an additional charge to inspect these additional structures.
7. What technologies do you use?
It used to be that all you needed, to do a home inspection was a flash lite and a screwdriver. Those days are OVER. If the inspector shows up with only a flash lite and screwdriver FIRE HIM! At a minimum, a home inspector should have a moisture meter which helps to determine if there are elevated levels of moisture in surfaces, an infrared thermometer to read water temps, AC temps, and refrigerator temps and assorted small tools. The Best Home Inspector will also use an infrared camera. This is called thermal imaging and allows the inspector to see small temperature differences. This useful in finding roof leaks, water leaks, insulation issues, and many other defects. Learn more about Thermal Imaging. Some inspectors are now using Drones as well. They allow us to see things, in areas, that may be too dangerous or inaccessible to humans. Read more about Drones.*
8. What type of home inspection report do you provide?
The Best Inspector will provide you with a computer generated report that is concise, detailed yet easy to read. There should be color photos of all defects and concerns. Look for an inspector that will offer same day report delivery. Ask to see a sample report. Most inspectors will be happy to provide this. See a sample report.
9. Can I attend the inspection?
If an inspector tells you no or says he works better alone. That is a big RED flag and you should not hire that inspector. An inspector should be open to showing you what he finds. This is a great way to learn about the home and its systems. One difference between a good inspector and the Best Inspector is, the Best Home Inspector if asked, will share repair and remodel costs with you. This is where construction experience will really pay off for both the buyer and home inspector.
10. How much do you charge?
I purposely saved this question for last because it really is the least important question to ask when looking for the Best Home Inspector. Consider the fact that you are buying a $200,000 or $300,000 dollar home. Would you want to trust that type of investment to someone only because they were a little cheaper? Of course not. Items 1 through 9 are much more important to ensure you get the Best Home Inspector. The average home inspection cost nationally is $350.00. The price will depend on the size of the home, type of mechanicals, whether there is a pool or some sort of outbuildings etc.. See current Florida Home Inspection pricing here. Protect yourself and family when buying a new home. By asking these 10 questions you can greatly improve your chances of finding the Best Home Inspector. About the writer: Shawn Dubois has been working in the construction industry for over 20 years. He is licensed in the state of Florida as a General Contractor and Home Inspector. He owns and operates Complete Home Repair LLC and Advanced Home Inspections of Florida LLC Contact Shawn. * Due to new FAA rules, we no longer use Drones on our home inspections.