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7 Questions To Ask A Home Inspector When Interviewing One
Although home inspection is not a shady business, there are many sole proprietors and freelancers who do the job without a proper license.
While some have years of hands-on experience but simple refuse to get properly certified, some are self-starters who neither have a relevant background or expertise.
Government regulations don’t help too.
Not all states have (if any) clear regulations on the qualifications and requirements of practicing home inspection services.
So a lot of people just jump into this business hoping to see positive results before taking it more seriously.
To compound the problem, many related businesses like contractors take on the job of inspections to broaden their list of services and increase revenue.
Contractors for example, might have a lot of expertise and knowledge about how a house is put together and how it works.
However, they are not specialist in home inspections.
Would you rather hire dedicated pest terminators or leave the job to a contractor?
I rest my case.
If you share my line of thought, you’d want to hire an inspector whose only business activity is to conduct inspections. And if possible, get one who is properly trained and certified.
Here are some questions to ask an inspector when interviewing to hire.
1) Are you full time or part time?
The answer you are looking for is obviously “Yes”.
Even if they are more than capable to carry out the job, part timers are prone to cutting corners. Leaving you with less peace of mind about whether the job is satisfactory or not.
You also don’t want to hire someone who is neither here nor there.
2) How many houses does your company inspect every month? And how many do you personally inspect monthly?
The purpose of this question is not just to find out how experienced the inspector is. But also to learn about how up-to-date he is to the ins and outs of this industry.
Sometimes certain trends can emerge. And you need someone who is on-the-ball to manage your case.
For example, there is a sudden surge in contaminated water found in houses in the area. An up-to-date inspector will then know that he has to pay particular attention to this issues when walking about the house.
3) What qualifications, certifications, and licenses do you hold?
You don’t need to hire someone with a Masters Degree.
Home inspectors are specialists who have their own areas of studies that is outside the main-stream education system. Just like professional accountants don’t necessarily need to obtain degrees to reach the pinnacle of their professions.
Most of the time, people in this area will have experience in related industries like construction, engineering, architecture, etc. And many more will have hands-on experience working with plumbing, electrical wiring, venting systems, etc.
This question will help you understand more about the background of the interviewee.
4) What is the scope of the inspection?
The scope of the inspector’s observations will usually include all structural and mechanical systems in the house. Including observable safety hazards, and more.
However, it doesn’t hurt to just ask so that he will have a lesser urge to pull a fast one.
And while the inspector will produce a report at the end of the job for your review, it is beneficial to accompany the inspector while he is doing his rounds so that you can ask questions on specific defects and get feedback on remedies.
A word of warning though. Inspections can take up to 4 hours depending on how big and complex the house is built.
5) Can I see a sample report of what I will be getting?
Inspectors who don’t take their job seriously might just offer a verbal report or a checklist report for your perusal.
This goes back to the first question about whether he is part time or full time.
You might find that part timers and freelancers often don’t produce comprehensive reports as they can be tedious to prepare.
A full timer backed by a proper company is more likely to provide you a full comprehensive report including pictures for reference so that you can easily understand observations and have a visual too.
Seeing a sample report will give you an idea of what you can expect to receive at the end of the service.
6) Is there errors-and-omissions (E&O) insurance?
If there is a foundation problem with the house, and the inspector did not notice it or elaborated in the report, a buyer of the house can possibly take you to court.
Sometimes it not a lack of expertise or blatant laziness.
Sometimes people do make mistakes even when they are the best in what they do.
In this case, E&O insurance will be able to buffer the financial impact these errors can cause.
All respectable and credible companies that has been around in this industry for years are going to have these policies.
Just ask… just in case.
7) What’s the price?
The quoted price for the home inspection service will mostly depend on the size of the property.
You really cannot expect someone to charge $350 for a studio apartment… and same for a house with a land area of a football field.
But unless the house in question is unusually large, you should not be paying more than $1,000. In fact, it’s usually much less than that.
Remember that as a seller, there are various advantages to conducting an inspection before putting a house on the market. And as a buyer, inspecting the house is even more important before taking over it proper.
This is not a cost to go frugal with.