There are certain things to look for when selecting a home inspector. As with any profession, an inspector with years of experience is a plus. You might want to ask for a resume highlighting his/her experience level, education, training, and references from past customers to determine the inspector's qualifications. Many states do not require home inspectors to be licensed. This means that they are not governed by any laws or regulations in regard to the performance of their duties, and they have little or no training in their field. And, you're going to let this person look at the biggest investment of your life? Scary, right?
Here's what you can do to ensure your inspector is qualified:
1. Locate an inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Members of those organizations are subject to a code of ethics for certified home inspectors. ASHI's guidelines have been established as the industry standard and include the following areas of inspection: structure, extriors, roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, interiors, ventilation, and fireplaces (you can visit www.ashi.org or www.nachi.org for additional details or to locate a certified home inspector).
2. Sometimes a certified home inspector is hard to come by in a small community or maybe you are only looking for certain areas of the home to be inspected (i.e. plumbing or HVAC). If you're options are limited, try contacting local contractors with a reputation for being fair and honest about repairs that need to be done. Friends and family can often point you in the direction of a reliable contractor who can provide feedback on the integrity of a structure and its components.
3. Ask your real estate agent for a list of local experts in the area. He/she can recommend a variety of inspectors or contractors to get you started. You should always take the time to contact the people on the list to make sure you are comfortable with them and their level of experience before hiring them to do an inspection.
4. Make sure your inspector is bonded and insured. An inspector who has taken these measures has already taken steps to ensure the buyer and seller are better protected.
Homebuyers are typically encouraged to accompany their inspectors during an inspection so you can ask questions and ensure the inspector is taking the time to look over the components of the home carefully. Try not to be distracting to the home inspector as he/she may miss items if you try to engage in friendly banter throughout the inspection. However, don't be afraid to question certain comments or items that are brought to your attention. Be aware that home inspectors are simply required to "observe" certain items according to the accepted industry standards. This might mean that your inspector "observes" the roof on the home you are buying from the ground. Without climbing on the roof, they might not be able to see certain areas of damage that an up close inspection would uncover (Scherzer & Andrews, 2014).
Although home inspections are designed to find most of the major defects associated with a home purchase, they are often delivered with a disclaimer that the property is inspected to the best of the inspector's ability under the conditions of the inspection. Keep in mind that purchasing a home in the winter might not allow for a thorough exterior inspection since snow and ice can prevent inspectors from seeing certain defects. Likewise, if large amounts of personal property are blocking an inspector's view of certain components of a home, the inspector may note that items were blocking his/her view, therefore it was impossible to inspect that portion of the home. There are certain remedies to help you achieve better results, however, every circumstance is different.
Inspections are most often performed once a home is under a purchase agreement. So, what happens if the inspector finds serious defects with a home and you have already agreed to a price? Most generally, the contract is contingent on a "satisfactory" home inspection. This means that the contract can be amended to accommodate for repairs or improvements as deemed necessary by the home inspector. Often times, a buyer and seller might also seek a second opinion on items of specific concern. The results of every inspection are handled on a case by case basis once the inspection is received.
As you can see, a home inspection can be a very involved process. It can be difficult to dive into these issues on your own, so trust the advice of a real estate professional to help guide you through the process. Feel free to contact me at (402) 375-1477 with any questions you might have regarding a home inspection for your next home purchase. Welcome Home.
Emrath, P. March 4, 2014. "Latest Calculations Show Average Buyer Expected to Stay in a Home 13 Years." National Association of Home Builders.
March 4, 2014. American Society of Home Inspectors. https://www.ashi.org
March 4, 2014. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. https://www.nachi.org
Scherzer, L. & Andrews, M. March 4, 2014. "Ten Things Home Inspectors Won't Say." http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=24197463