Only trust seasoned independent home inspectors

When prospective home owners hear their bid has been accepted, they immediately rush to finalize moving plans. One bit of sage advice for property investors is: Contact a good home inspector before contacting a moving company! Property investors might pay dearly if they fail to get their new home thoroughly inspected before finalizing the deal.

Generally, property investors should get the home inspector to inspect major systems inside the home, including Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Electrical, Plumbing, Roof and attic, Ceiling, Insulation, Basement, Foundations and Doors and windows. Usually, diligent property investorswill also have the home appliances included in the inspection.

Upon completion of the home inspection, the inspector will provide property investors with a detailed report of his/her findings. Should major issues be uncovered during the inspection, property investors should work with the homeowner and their Realtor to address the situation, either through having the owners fix the issue or offer a price reduction.

Property investors should consider having home inspection contingency clauses in the contract. For example, should the inspection determine a certain dollar value worth of issues, property investors should have the right to ask the owner to fix the issues or the offer may be rescinded.

According to a study, conducted after over 2000 inspections, by renowned home inspection firm HouseMaster, over 40% of resale homes will have issues that may cost property investors between a couple of hundred dollars to over $15,000 to fix.

Property investors are strongly advised to invest a few hundred dollars to get their future homes thoroughly and professionally inspected. But if property investors are unsure how to go about engaging a home inspector, think carefully before asking your Realtor to recommend one.

In their book “Home Buying For Dummies”, authors Eric Tyson and Ray Brown also echo that thought by warning property investors that inspectors that work too closely with real estate agents have a conflict of interest that might encourage them to go “…easy of their inspections”.

The books’ authors suggest that property investors start their search for home inspectors at the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). They do caution however, that while ASHI membership suggest that property investors will be working with a professional and qualified inspector, it does not guarantee a thorough inspection.

ASHI membership requires inspectors to have performed at least 250 home inspections, and qualified 2 proficiency exams. ASHI members also assure property investors of meeting recognized standards of practice, and adhering to an ASHI mandated code of ethics.

Both the ASHI and the books’ authors urge property investors to evaluate several inspectors before making a final selection. Some of the points to discuss should include:

  • What will the inspection include? Property investors should ensure that the ASHI Standards of Practice will be the guiding principles for the inspection and the subsequent written report.
  • What is your experience? Property investors should be aware that ASHI members should have completed at least 250 inspections, and passed the requisite written tests from the Society.
  • Do you specialize in residential home inspection? Property investors should expect an answer of “yes”. Residential properties have their unique nuances that non-specialists will likely not recognize. Of course, a multi-specialist (Residential, Commercial and Industrial) home inspector will be even better!
  • Will your company quote me a price to fix the issues found? ASHI guidelines expressly forbid this due to the obvious conflict of interest. If property investors receive a “yes” to this question, terminate the interview and continue your search.
  • How much time will you spend doing the inspection? Depending on the type of house, property investors should expect a single inspector to take at least 2 to 4 hours to do a thorough job and produce a final report. A two-person team might shorten the duration.
  • What will it cost? Many factors, including scope of the inspection, size of the house, age, location and region, will impact costs. Typically, property investors should budget between $350-$550 for their investment in the inspection.
  • Will you provide a written report? The answer must always be “yes”. Ask for a sample of the report so you are aware what to expect and how to interpret the details.
  • Can I accompany you during the inspection? A good home inspector will always answer “Yes, I strongly encourage your participation”. Property investors can use this opportunity to learn more about their potential investment. Many conscientious inspectors might also volunteer other information to property investors, that might usually be excluded from the inspection or the report.

As a result of their interview, property investors will be able to shortlist one or two home inspectors. The final step is to ask for references, and check up on each reference provided. Property investors should question each reference about whether any major issues were uncovered by the homeowners after their deals were closed. More importantly, ask if the homeowner would recommend or use the home inspectors services again.