How to Choose a Home Inspector

choosing a home inspector

The home inspection can be the most nerve-wracking part of the home buying experience. You might start out looking at a cute four-bedroom updated vintage home that’s about 20 minutes away from work, only to find out that it is a money pit with an unstable foundation and plumbing problems after the home inspection. Because you want to know exactly what you’re getting before you commit to the home for 30 years, a quality home inspector is crucial to the process.

Purchasing any property is a major investment, and a home inspection will help you make an informed decision, with all information at your fingertips. It is important that you choose an unbiased third party that is working on your behalf. An objective property inspection gives you a clear, concise checklist of information regarding the home you have selected with an understanding of how all major systems and components are performing.

Here are some tips on how to choose a home inspector to work with during the home buying process.

Find out how much experience they have

Like any other person you hire, you’ll want to make sure that your prospective home inspector has a lot of experience in the field. The more years on the job, the easier it will be for them to spot subtle water damage or leaky pipes. If they have been a home inspector for a long time, it’s likely that they’ve seen just about anything and everything, and you’ll feel more comfortable hiring them to take a look at your prospective new home.

Read online reviews

Though you should always take online reviews with a grain of salt, they can give you an overall picture of how an individual home inspector operates. Choose to look at more reputable sites like Angie’s List, which typically have more reliable reviews. If you see a lot of the same problems being raised in many of the reviews, you might want to be wary of hiring this individual.

Ask a friend

If you have a friend who has recently purchased a home, ask them for their recommendation on a home inspector. If they were satisfied with the professional they hired and feel comfortable recommending them, it’s likely that they would do a good job for you as well.

Ask if you can be there when they inspect

A home inspector should feel comfortable doing their job in front of the homebuyer, so it’s important to ask whether or not you can be there during the actual inspection. Not only will this make you more comfortable, but you’ll also learn a lot while you are looking at the home alongside them. They’ll often explain things in greater detail with you if you are there in person rather than on the phone. Plus, it’s easier to understand when you are physically looking at any damage or problems.

Make sure they’re in professional organizations

A good home inspector is often a member of one or a few professional organizations for the trade such as the American Home Inspectors Association or American Society of Home Inspectors. These organizations have certain expectations for certification and keep their members informed with the latest information on home inspections with continuing education. If your prospective home inspector is a member of a professional home inspection organization it’s a good chance that they are reputable and trustworthy for the job.

Ask if you can see a license

Not all states require home inspectors to be licensed, but it’s always a good idea to go with a licensed professional. When you are looking around for a home inspector, ask if you can see a copy of their professional license to confirm their credentials. If your state does require licenses, be sure to call the state agency to make sure their license is up to date and check to see if there are any complaints against him or her.

Know what’s included 

A typical home inspection will include looking at items in the home like electrical work, plumbing, heating and cooling, interior and exterior, foundation, kitchen, baths, insects, chimneys, and garages. Be sure to ask up front if the home inspection doesn’t include anything that’s typical of an inspection and why something might not be included.

Make sure your professional is unbiased

Your real estate agent is a good person to go to for recommendations on home inspection and other professionals who work in the home industry. If someone else makes a recommendation, be aware of the dynamics at play when selecting a home inspector. You want to make sure you are getting completely unbiased advice from your home inspector so you know what you’re getting into and can negotiate the price if needed.

Ensure they know the type of house you’re buying

No two houses are the same, and it’s especially important to choose someone who is familiar with the type of home you’re looking to purchase. This is really critical when you are looking at older homes, such as a Victorian or a craftsman bungalow, that have handcrafted features and old plumbing and electrical. You need to know that they won’t miss anything obvious when they are going through the house. Though it’s expected that an older home won’t be in perfect condition, you want to make sure that you are not buying into a money pit if you don’t want to spend all your time and resources fixing it up.

About the Author
Benjamin Feldman Director of Content