Published April 10, 2013
The home inspection process is a key step to buying a home since often offers are contingent on its findings, so working with the right inspector is important. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to find out the inspector missed the cracks in the foundation or an on-the-fritz furnace.
“A lot of people want to buy the most expensive house they can afford and the best quality, but when they are hiring an inspector they try to cut costs,” says Bill Jacques, president of The American Society of Home Inspectors. “Usually the ones that don’t charge that much don’t have a lot of experience.”
Before you hire a home inspector, experts say to interview two or three and ask the following questions:
Question No. 1 What are your qualifications and experience?
Qualifications for the home inspector vary greatly by state. According to Jacques, some states only require professionals to pass an online test while others require obtaining a license and meet ongoing education requirements to stay licensed.
“You should ask them how long they’ve been doing home inspections,” he says. “The more experience the more opportunity the inspector will have to analyze things and give customers the right information.”
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the inspector should be able to provide experience as well as references and referrals.
Question No. 2 What type of report do you provide?
The most valuable part of the home inspection is the detailed report that lists any issues, problems or potential troubles with the house. How the report is crafted and how long it takes to be submitted to the buyer varies. HUD recommends asking for sample reports and making sure a candidate can produce a report in a time that meets your needs. Inspectors typically provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
Question No. 3 What does the inspection entail?
Before you hire an inspector, make sure the evaluation will cover all your necessary requirements. According to real estate experts, the inspector should be able to tell you ahead of time what areas will be inspected and also provide a written copy of what the inspection will cover. If there are specific areas you are concerned with, make that clear before agreeing to work with an inspector .
Question No. 4 How much do you charge for the inspection?
On average, a home inspection will cost between $300 and $500 but that price will range depending on the size of the home and where it’s located. While it’s tempting to go with the lowest cost provider, Jacques says that’s not always a good idea.
“A lot of times the guys that don’t charge a lot are the ones that don’t have a lot of experience and don’t know what to charge,” says Jacques. You end up getting what you pay for, he says.
Question No. 5 Can I attend the inspection?
Following the home inspector during the review can be a learning process to understand the house better and identify the potential problems.
If the inspector refuses to let you accompany him or her it should raise a red flag. “We encourage buyers to be there when doing the inspection,” says Jacques. “It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot.”