How do I choose a home inspector?

Learn how to find an inspector who'll educate you about the condition of that home you might buy.
When you find the house that is right for you, find a home inspector to educate you about the condition of your new home. The additional peace of mind that a professional home inspection offers is invaluable and can potentially reduce any risks associated with buying a home.

Find an inspector that you trust

Choosing the right inspector means choosing someone you can trust to objectively and independently provide you with a comprehensive analysis of the home’s major systems and components—apart from anyone's interests other than your own. By accurately assessing the home’s condition, a well qualified inspector can help ensure that you know exactly what you are buying before you sign on the dotted line.

Since there is no national licensing of home inspectors, it may be difficult to know which home inspector to use. Follow these simple tips to make sure you receive a qualified home inspection performed by an experienced professional.

Be sure they are certified

There are two major certification organizations in the country today -- the International Code Council and the American Society of Home Inspectors. The ICC is the organization that actually writes the building codes enforced by your local building officials. Your inspector should be certified by the ICC as a Residential Building Inspector or more. You can obtain a list of these in your area, or verify the credentials of an inspector, at the ICC's Web site. Caution: Don’t be misled by an inspector using the word ‘certified’ in their title. The only true certification in the industry today comes from the ICC and from ASHI.

Be sure they are experienced

You should also insist that your inspector is a certified member of one of the major professional inspector organizations, such as ASHI, the National Association of Home Inspectors, the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors, or the California Real Estate Inspection Association.

To become a full member, an inspector must demonstrate technical proficiency and report-writing skills, and commit to continuing education in order to achieve and maintain their member status. Inspectors are committed to conducting inspections in accordance with their organization’s standards of practice, commit to abiding by their code of ethics, and are dedicated to providing superior customer service. A professional home inspector delivers more than a home inspection. They deliver peace of mind. Caution: Stick with one of the major associations, such as ASHI, NAHI, GAHI or CREIA. They are the oldest and most respected professional inspector organizations in the nation.

Be sure they are insured

What if the inspector’s ladder falls and lands on the seller’s new car. What if the inspector slips and falls through a ceiling. Who pays if the water is left on in a bathroom and floods the entire floor? Accidents happen, so be sure your inspector has the necessary general liability insurance for protection.

Where do you find a certified home inspector?

Check out our list of home inspectors in your area. Realtors also are a great source for recommending a good inspector. You can also find them at the professional association Web sites.

Be there during the inspection

If you can make it, try and attend the inspection of your new home, which should last between two and three hours on site. Your inspector will be able to explain the house and its condition first hand, and you’ll be able to ask questions and get an immediate response.

No questions are foolish, so be sure and follow the inspector throughout the process, speaking up as questions arise.

Some of the most common issues that home inspections uncover are:
  • Rotten wood and/or delaminating siding or stucco that can affect both the visual and structural integrity of the home.

  • Energy concerns, such as broken seals and missing insulation that lead to costly energy bills.

  • Electrical code violations in outlets that can create fire hazards.

  • Water heaters that have not been installed to properly meet today's standards.

  • Missing flashing on the roof and windows that can eventually lead to leaks.
After the inspection, you should know the precise condition of the home you are buying and will have information you need to make an informed decision.

If you don't understand everything in the inspection report, ask the inspector to walk you through it item by item so that you understand it completely. Remember, there are no silly questions, and not knowing can only hurt you in the end.

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