Home Inspectors: 5 Tips to Choosing the Right One

Choosing the wrong Home Inspector can cost you a lot more than the fee you paid. If you choose a home inspector solely on price alone, your headed down a dangerous highway.

I'm still amazed at people who will spend countless hours, days and months looking for just the right home and then choose a home inspector solely because he was $50 or $100 than the next guy.

Home Inspector Schools are turning out record number of new inspectors. These people come from all walks of life. One week they are the door greeter at a department store, the next they're a "Certified" home inspector.

Before choosing any inspector there are some things you need to know.

Tip #1: Research, research and research some more. Find out as much as you can about the inspector you want to hire. Call them up and speak with them over the phone. Are they easy to talk to? Are they knowledgeable about homes? Will he/she email you a sample report? Is the report easy to read and understand?

You may also want to ask your friends and coworkers for referrals. However, never take their recommendations blindly. The majority of people have no idea if they received a good inspection or not. They just know they like the inspector and he pointed some things out. Research, research, research!

Tip #2: Never hire an Inspector solely on the recommendation of your Real Estate Agent. While you may think that your agent hung the moon, they could be pushing you to use a "wink and nod" inspector, or as we in the business call them, "Drive by Inspectors." They grab your check as the drive by the home their suppose to be inspecting. These types of inspectors "don't rock the boat" or are not "deal killers".

These inspectors get their business from agents who control them. The agent knows the inspector will see to it that the inspection doesn't derail the transaction. Even if your agent recommends 2,3 or more inspectors, it's wiser to avoid the conflict of interest and find an inspector who works for you and you only.

Tip #3: Why the word "Certified" may not be a good thing. Listen up. You can become a "Certified" home inspector by sending a hundred dollars or so to one of many home inspection associations. No experience required. Just send them the money and they send you a "Certified" certificate.

Sure, it's good that your inspector should belong to some state and national home inspector associations. Most professionals in any business belong to industry associations in their field. Home inspectors are no different. However, there are many companies out there looking to make a buck off the backs of new home inspectors. Don't fall for the "Certified" or "Master Certified" home inspector label. Some of these organizations use the word "Certified" in their name to try and sound credible. Buyer beware.

If you're looking for an inspector on new construction, you do want to look for a Code "Certified" inspector.

Two national home inspector associations that you can trust are the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)- http://www.ashi.com and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI)- http://www.nahi.org.

ASHI has very strict requirements for membership including passing the National Home Inspector Examination. NAHI has similar requirements.

Tip #4: You get what you pay for. Price should be at the bottom of your list of priorities when shopping for an inspector. A good, thorough and knowledgeable inspector will save you money while a poor inspector will cost you many times their fee. You may need that $100 bucks you saved to try and repair that $10,000 roof your inspector failed to warn you about.

Let's take a 2000 square foot home. A top of the line inspector who knows what he's doing will cost you approximately $350 to $600 for this size home, depending on a few variables. You have to ask yourself, if the inspector I choose charges less, why? What will be missed or left out of the inspection?

On the other hand, a good inspector will find things others will miss. You may want to go back to the Seller and renegotiate the price of the home. I've seen Sellers drop their price $30,000 because of the items we found wrong with homes. I've also saved my Clients countless thousands of dollars by brining major defects to their attention before they signed on the dotted line.

Tip #5: Check with you state to see if they require home inspectors to be licensed. More and more states are requiring home inspectors to be licensed. Even in these states, there are some inspectors who can't meet the standards and will be performing illegal inspections. Check them out before hiring them.

Choosing the right Home Inspector is a very important process when buying a home. Don't leave it to chance. Do your homework and you'll be money ahead.

This article may be freely distributed as long as this sig/resource box is left intact with the article.

Donald Lawson is a Professional Real Estate Inspector licensed in Oklahoma (#454) and Texas (#5824). He currently owns and operates V.I.P. Home Inspections, a multi inspector firm in Houston Texas. You can find more out about him and the home buying process by visiting his website at http://www.best2inspect.com

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