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How To Hire A Professional House Inspector

Updated on January 28, 2016

Once the offer for the house is approved, hire a certified. licensed, insured, professional, house inspector.

Make sure the inspector is associated with a house inspection national association. These associations set standards and professionalism along with offering the education and training needed to provide a competent, certified, house inspector.

It is a good practice to hire an inspector completely independent from your real estate agent.

Unfortunately, not all states require certification, license, or training. But, just because someone has a license and/or certification does not mean that person is a proficient inspector. Like any profession, there are good and bad inspectors. This reminds me of the movie "Groundhog Day." The piano teacher asks Bill Murray's character "You say this is your first lesson Mr. Connor?" And Phil (Bill Murray) says "Ya, but my dad was a piano mover." My point is, some people get up in the morning and decide today they are going to be a house inspector. Training, certification, and license is most important.

You must hire an inspector that will examine thoroughly the inner workings of the house meticulously enough to may cause the findings to be a deal breaker for you. It would be much better to know of the problems now opposed to later.

The following are some of the questions you should ask a potential inspector before hiring:

* How many paid inspections have you performed? ( 300 should be a minimum)

* Are you certified and licensed? Where?

* How long have you been a residential inspector?

* Are you a full time residential inspector?

* What type of insurance do you have? Should have General Liability and Errors and Omissions insurance.

- General Liability Insurance is in the event the inspector causes damage to the house or a person from his/her actions.

- Errors and Omissions Insurance is for claims that arise when an inspector misses something in the inspection or fails to report a defective item in the inspection report.

* What does the inspection include?

* Do you offer any guarantee?

* What is the cost of the inspection?

* May I see a copy of one of your completed reports?

* Will your report include pictures?

* How long will the inspection last? ( Average inspection should take 3-4 hours)

* Will you make note of building code violations?

* Will your inspection include out buildings and fences in your report?

* Are you a member of a national professional home inspection association? Ask to see the membership I. D.

* Do you participate in a continuing education program?

* Tell the inspector you will attend the inspection.

* After the inspection, how long will it take to receive the completed report? (should be 24 hrs or less)

* What type of testing equipment do you have? Moisture meter, combustible gas detector, carbon monoxide detector, receptacle/circuit analyzer, retractable mirrors, respirator, infrared camera, etc.

* Ask for at least three references from past inspections. Call them.

When the inspection takes place, as mentioned above, tell the inspector you will attend the inspection and that it will take place in the daylight hours.

Do not have the inspector make repair work generated from the inspection report.

It is difficult for the inspector to know what is behind wall or floor coverings. Request the inspector gather as much information as possible to assist you on a final purchase price.

Keep in mind, the inspector will not be able to tell you when something is going to fail.. But, the inspector should be able to tell you the average life of a piece of equipment in years so you can be prepared. (Example: Average life of the roof, air conditioning equipment, etc.)

The following items may not be covered by your house inspector's report:

* Pests.

* Soil conditions.

* Operating kitchen appliances, but needs to be noted in the report so you can put something in the contract if the appliances remain with the house.

* Lawn sprinkler system.

* Fire sprinkler system.

* Asbestos.

* Lead paint.

* Mold.

* Smoke detectors.

* Septic system.

* Operation of washer/dryer.

* Operation of air conditioning system.

* Swimming pool, spa, and equipment.

* Underground or above ground storage tank for heating oil.

* Above ground storage tank for propane.

* Health of trees and shrubs.

* Fireplace and chimneys.

* Alarms and intercom systems.

* Insulation voids in walls.

* If the house is up to code.

You may choose to hire a contractor to do the inspection. You will want the contractor to be experienced, competent, and professional to achieve the necessary results. You may want to hire a contractor for a specific trade such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, foundation, etc. You will need to ask the contractor similar questions as you would a house inspector.

If you choose to hire a licensed, professional engineer, you will want to see the state seal, and also ask the engineer similar questions as you would an inspector or contractor.

Just because the person is a licensed, professional engineer, does not mean that person is experienced in residential construction, or residential inspection. There are professional engineers who are certified house inspectors.

Once you receive the inspector's report, it may make note of a major problem that is above the expertise of the inspector. If that happens, you will have to decide whether to hire a specialized contractor or professional engineer to investigate the problem thoroughly so you may decide if this kills the deal. This, of course, would be an added cost, but this major problem could develop into a huge dollar amount, and worth the expense.

And last, follow up on the inspector's recommendations and have the listed items repaired promptly, either by the seller, as agreed upon, or by you, the buyer, after you negotiate and take possession of the house.


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