Home Buying Tip

Getting a home inspection report on a house you might buy is a smart move because you are protecting yourself from making a costly buying mistake. Knowing the best questions to ask the home inspector gets you the answers you need to make an informed choice about which home inspector to hire.

Home Inspectors Check for Structural Soundness
Credit: Image credit: Liz Roll, FEMA Photo Library, Public Domain, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_44528_-_Home_inspections_in_Olive_Hill_Kentucky.jpg

What to Ask a Home Inspector About Professional Qualifications

While an impressive list of credentials and training certificates is no guarantee of the quality of a home inspector's work or ethics, the fact that he or she invested time and money into training or ongoing education is an indication of a desire to be successful and offer good customer service.

Asking the following questions gives you a snapshot of a home inspector's qualifications and professionalism.

1. How long have you been working in the home inspection industry?

2. What's the total number of inspections you've done?

3. How many inspections do you do each month?

4. What is the extent of your qualifications as a residential home inspector?

5. Are you a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, American Association of Home Inspectors, or other professional groups or associations?

6. If yes, which ones do you belong to?

7. If no, why not?

8. What type of professional references can you offer for your services? (Do other professionals in the real estate industry send their clients to him or her?)

9. If required, do you have the proper state licenses and qualifications?

10. Are you an independent entity or do you have affiliations with any mortgage agencies, building contractors or real estate agents?

Questions for a Home Inspector About Training and Continuing Education

Knowing when your home inspector was trained and how he or she has kept up with changes in the industry is important. Since you are depending on their report of a home's condition to help you make a buying decision, you'll want to be sure they are aware of all current regulations and guidelines for your locality.

Here's some key questions to help you find out their qualifications in this area:

12. What type of formal training did you go through to become a home inspector?

13. How did you gain your on-the-job experience?

14. Is this your full-time profession or a part-time job?

15. What type of ongoing education do you take part in to keep current with changes in the home inspection industry?

What 's Found on a Typical Home Inspection?

Home Inspector Questions About Guarantees and Services

In general, a home inspection report is designed to give potential buyers a picture of the physical condition of the structure as well as the mechanical and electrical systems of home.

In addition to giving an estimate of the physical condition of these items, the home inspector should offer an opinion on their anticipated lifespan. The report should also include a listing of any defects that need to be repaired or items which need to be replaced.

However, it's a good idea to have clear communication with your home inspector about the exact format of the home inspection and the specific areas which will be covered.

Here are some suggestions on the best questions to ask the home inspector to get the information you need:

16. What type of insurance (such as errors and omissions or liability) coverage do you have?

17. What type of guarantee do you offer for your services?

18, Will you give me 3 to 5 references from your last 10 home inspections?

19. When will I receive my inspection report?

20. What type of inspection report will it be?

21. Will you allow my real estate agent and me to be present at the home inspection?

22. If yes, how much time should we allot for you to complete your inspection?

23. If no, why not?

How much will a home inspection cost? (According to HUD, the average cost of a home inspection is about $300 to $500.[7122])

24. What services does your fee cover? (What will be included on your inspection report?)

Note: While it is important to understand the cost of a home inspection before you decide to have one, cost should not be your deciding factor. The small cost of a having a home inspected before buying it is more than offset by the peace of mind of knowing you will not be stuck with expensive repairs due to systems failures, builders' oversights, or undetected structural damages.

hecking the Home's Operating Systems is Part of the Home Inspection Process
Credit: Image: John Ficara, FEMA Photo Library, Public Domain, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_32429_-_FEMA_inspector_inside_an_Ohio_home..jpg

What to Look for in a Home Inspector: Reputation

Ask the following to check the reputation of a home inspector before hiring, or simply ask some professionals in the real estate industry. It probably won't take you too long to find out if a home inspector's reputation in an area is positive or negative.

25. Do you abide by the Code of Ethics[7123] and Standards of Practice of the professional organization to which you belong?

26. Have you ever had a consumer complaint filed against you?

27. If yes, what was the final resolution?

Note: Now that you know the best questions to ask a home inspector, you may be wondering how to find one. Asking your real estate agents or friends and family members for referrals is always a good idea. You can also find a handy Find An Inspector tool on the ASHI website (www.ashi.org).

Who Pays for the Home Inspection?

In most cases, the potential buyer pays for the home inspection. However, in a depressed real estate market, there are typically some sellers who have homes pre-inspected to make the house attractive to potential buyers or will offer to pay for the inspection as a part of the sale negotiations.

It never hurts to ask, but be ready for the answer to be no and to pay for the inspection yourself. It is money well-spent to make sure the home you are considering is in the best possible condition.

After The Home Inspection

Your home inspection report reflects the home inspector's analysis of the home from the foundation to the top of the roof. After examining the mechanical systems and structure, he or she offers an opinion on the soundness of the home and its operating systems.

If there are items or discrepancies noted on the inspection that are not clear to you, ask the inspector to explain them. After all, you'll be using the information provided by the home inspection to make a one of the largest buying decisions of your life - purchasing a new home. You owe it to yourself to be fully informed about the home's condition before you finalize your sale.