Ten Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector
- What does your inspection cover?
- Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?
- Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection?
- How long will the inspection take?
- How much will it cost?
- What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?
- Will I be able to attend the inspection?
- Do you offer a refund if the inspection service and or report is not conducted to the standards of practice?
- Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?
- Do you use any type of special test equipment for your inspection?
The inspector should ensure that their inspection and inspection report will meet all applicable requirements in your state if applicable and will comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics. You should be able to request and see a copy of these items ahead of time and ask any questions you may have. If there are any areas you want to make sure are inspected, be sure to identify them upfront. ( Read my Scope of Work under Samples – FULL REPORT)
Related experience in construction or engineering is helpful, but is no substitute for training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection. If the inspection is for a commercial property, then this should be asked about as well. ( YES, Charles Barnes School of Real Estate and Appraisals- Home Inspectors course, Mid-West City, OK)
Some inspector associations and state regulations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in the inspection. Other associations and regulations strictly forbid this as a conflict of interest. ( NO, it removes the conflict of interest and focuses on the inspection only )
The average on-site inspection time for a single inspector is 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours for a typical single-family house; anything significantly less may not be enough time to perform a thorough inspection. (The same amount of time for inspections )
Costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size and age of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range might be $150-500, but consider the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made. Cost does not necessarily reflect quality of the inspection. ( Size and age is what I use to determine the fees in the range above) Don’t waste your time trying to find the cheapest Inspector in town. If you want the best than spend the extra 30 -50 dollars more. Remember you’ll have 30 year to regret that cheap inspection. I’M NOT THE CHEAPEST!
Ask to see samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector’s reporting style and if the time parameters fulfill your needs. Most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection. (My report is a computer generated, narrative based, with digital images. In most cases, you can receive your report within 24 hrs or less.)
This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal to allow this should raise a red flag. Never pass up this opportunity to see your prospective home through the eyes of an expert. ( I encourage you to attend and ask questions, this is your inspection)
Some inspection services states in their contract that there maybe some type of refund in this case. (Yes, within 5 days and proof of my failure to meet the obligations of the contract must be undisputable.)
One can never know it all, and the inspector’s commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his or her professionalism and service to the consumer. This is especially important in cases where the home is much older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training. (YES, Oklahoma requires a minimum of 8 hrs of CE for license renewal and NACHI requires 24 hrs of CE to stay a member)
A thorough inspection can not be completed without some specialized tools or equipment. Tools such as moisture meters, CO detectors, and receptacle testers are needed in most inspections. (YES, to include an infrared camera and more)
How to Prepare for an Inspection
No home is perfect. Anything from major damage to minor maintenance issues are often found. Even new homes are not immune – they could have problems with the plumbing, electrical system, heating and cooling system, or the roofing system just to name a few.
For homeowners, it’s important to be aware of any issues your home may have prior to putting it on the market. Getting a pre-listing home inspection will ensure that you’re aware of any problems and can take care of them on your terms – or present them as-is and adjust your selling price proportionally. The alternative leaves you open to costly surprises and delays, and even potential deal-breakers once you’ve entered negotiations with the buyer.
For buyers, an inspection is vital to uncovering issues a home may have but are invisible to the untrained eye. Even if the inspection finds more problems than you’re comfortable with and you move on to a different home to start the process all over again, it’s money well spent. An inspection will give you the opportunity to ask the seller to make the repairs before you buy, or to back out of the contract. So be sure to ask for the “inspection contingency” when you begin to enter negotiations with the seller. This allows you to set a limit on the cost of repairs to the home. If the inspector estimates that repairs will cost more than the limit, the contract is voided. It is a good way to protect yourself from ending up with a home that requires repairs that you are unable or unwilling to pay for.
Before the inspector arrives, there are a few things you should know. There are no federal regulations governing inspectors. The laws are going to differ state by state. Therefore it’s important to interview your inspector or inspection company prior to hiring them. Since each state is going to have their own standards of certification for inspectors – and some don’t even have any – credibility is a big issue in choosing the right inspector. Ask what associations he or she belongs to. Most associations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), and National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) have membership requirements that include minimum levels of experience and training as well as codes of ethics.
Once your inspector has arrived, it is recommended that you accompany him or her on at least part of the inspection of the property. This is so you can become familiar with the home and its systems as well as exactly what repairs the inspector recommends and why. You might also want to prepare a list of items that you’ve seen in the home that you feel are cause for concern as well as any questions you may have. The inspection is a great time to find out where the home’s water and gas shutoffs are and where the fuse box is.
Here are some other suggestions for homeowners:
- ▶Accessibility: Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially to the attic and crawl space. It’s also a good idea to trim any trees and shrubs that may make an inspection of the exterior of the property difficult.
- ▶Housekeeping: The inspector may photograph your home for the inspection report, so clearing the clutter and moving vehicles from the front of the home will help the inspection go smoother.
- ▶Maintenance: Repair minor things like leaky faucets, missing door handles and trim.
- ▶Make sure all utilities are on at the property to be inspected. Your inspector is unable test the operation of any item for which the gas, electricity or water is not provided. It is not the inspectors responsibility to make sure the utilities are available.
- ▶Pilot lights and manual gas valves should be on at all functional gas appliances, i.e. gas water heaters
- ▶The dishwasher will be run through a typical wash cycle during the inspection. You may prepare a load of dishes if you choose.
- ▶Make sure pets are contained. Any dogs or cats which may appear agressive will most likely hinder the inspector from moving freely about the property. Also, the inspector will not be responsible for pets which may try to escape from inside the dwelling.
- ▶Unlock all electrical panels, sprinkler/irrigation controllers, gates, etc.
- ▶Provide the inspector with any related information that may affect the property inspection.
- ▶Provide the inspector with detailed operating instructions for special/unique equipment.
- ▶Inform the inspector of any particular system you do not want operated.
- ▶Be prepared for the inspector to operate the following: kitchen appliances, heating/cooling systems, evaporative cooler(s), all doors and windows, overhead garage doors, all plumbing fixtures, lawn watering system(s), landscape lights, interior doors, exterior doors, windows, switches, outlets, ceiling fans, pool/spa equipment, whirlpools, etc.