Inspector 101- how to hire and what to order

home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections.
Not to be confused with an appraiser, a home inspector determines the condition of a structure, whereas an appraiser determines the value of a property. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an inspection to verify compliance with appropriate codes; building inspection is a term often used for building code compliance inspections.

The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.

Things to do to prepare for the inspection.

  1. Clean the house.
  2. Don’t be late & be prepared for at least 2-3 hours.
  3. Leave the power and the water on.
  4. Make sure water heaters and furnaces are not blocked.
  5. Keep the pilot lights on.
  6. Make sure access to the garage and the attic are available.
  7. Make sure the electric box is accessible.
  8. Clean up exterior around the foundation.
  9. Provide any and all repair documents.

Information adapted from Balance.com

How to Hire a Home Inspector.

1) Qualifications
Ask open-ended questions about the inspector’s training and experience as it relates to home inspections. The inspector should have some training in construction and building maintenance standards and a track record of experience in the home inspection business. Depending on the location and age of the home, you may need to hire an inspector who is qualified to deal with asbestos, lead-based paint or other potentially hazardous substances. In some areas you may also need to hire a geologist or structural engineer. Ask the inspector which components of the property are included in his or her inspection.

2) Sample Reports
Ask the inspector to provide a sample of his or her checklist or inspection report so you can evaluate it. Is the information presented and explained clearly and completely? Are there notes and explanations or just a series of checkboxes?  A longer report is more beneficial in the long run than a simple checklist. Does the report highlight any problems that could present a safety hazard?

3) References
Ask the inspector for the names and telephone numbers of several homeowners who have used his or her services. Call those people and ask them whether they were satisfied with the report and other services they received. Be sure to talk to some people who have owned their home for a few months or longer. Some problems overlooked by an inspection can take a while to surface. You may also want to do an online search and read reviews. Many home inspectors are listed on Yelp.com where you can read reviews and experiences from people who have used their services.

4) Memberships
Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors and membership in one of these groups should not be your sole evaluation criteria. However, all else being equal, an association membership is often a plus. These groups provide their members with training and certification programs and up-to-date information about industry practices and inspection standards. Look for membership in the National Association of Home Inspectors, the National Institute of Building Inspectors, and the American Society of Home Inspectors.

5)  Errors and Omissions Insurance
Even top-notch inspectors are only human and can make errors or overlook problems they probably should have noticed. Ask about the company’s policy in such situations. Does the company have insurance for errors and omissions? Does the company or individual inspector stand behind the report? Is there any sort of guarantee and how long does it last for? Many companies ask customers to sign a waiver limiting the company’s liability to the cost of the inspection.

Information from Realtor.com

What is typically included.

  1. Heating system
  2. Central air conditioning system (temperature permitting)
  3. Interior plumbing
  4. Interior electrical systems
  5. The roof
  6. The attic
  7. Visible insulation
  8. The walls
  9. The ceilings
  10. The floors
  11. The windows and doors
  12. The foundation
  13. The basement
  14. Structural components

Information from HomeInspector.org

Other helpful information.

The average home inspection costs around $315, with condos and small homes under 1,000 sq ft. costing as little as $200. Larger homes over 2,000 sq ft. will run $400 or more. Radon or mold testing will cost extra, but will typically cost less if you purchase them with a home inspection.

Information from HomeAdvisor.com