Lets face it, for most people, purchasing a home does not happen on a regular basis. As such, home buyers tend not to be overly familiar with the home buying process or the nuances attached to it. One critical step in buying a home is having it evaluated by a home inspector. A real estate transaction is the single largest purchase the average person will make. Knowing this, deciding to have an independent, third-party, expert, thoroughly examine the property makes obvious sense. Here are some important tips you should know when hiring a home inspector.
Cost of a home inspection
Cost is not the most important factor, but lets face it, it is one of the key points we use to make purchasing decisions. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is very small relative to the value of the home being inspected, so opting for the least expensive inspector should not be the determining factor. The old adage of, "you get what you pay for" holds true here. I would also recommend avoiding the flat rate, one price fits every inspection, company. Every home is different and has its own set of circumstances. Charging a flat rate and, in turn, performing the inspection in a set amount of time (which is typically the case with these companies) just doesn't work; something(s) will be missed or skipped. Most reputable inspection companies will base their fees on certain characteristics of the home. Square footage, age, foundation type, type of home (single-family, condo, etc.), and other unique characteristics will all factor into calculating the cost. Ultimately, most inspectors will base their inspection fees on the length of time it takes to do the inspection. As an example, a condo that takes an hour and a half to inspect will be priced a lot less than a 4000 sq ft single-family home that takes half a day.
Have the inspector explain their pricing structure?
Get the price of the inspection in writing, included in an inspection agreement (more on this later).
Discuss what payment methods the inspector will accept.
Establish when payment is due.
Get a paid invoice at the end of the process. Sometimes this cost can be reimbursed or deducted.
Is my inspector licensed in Minnesota?
The short answer will always be NO. The State of Minnesota does not have a licensure requirement for home inspectors (there is a requirement for radon measurement). This may change at some point, but for now, other qualifications should be considered.
Your inspector should have gone through a recognized training program, but this alone is not, in my opinion, enough. Most inspectors start their careers with a training program but should go well beyond this. Arguably, the highest benchmark for inspectors is passing the National Home Inspectors Exam (NHIE). This test is the one that most regulated states use as part of their licensing requirements and one that will differentiate quality inspectors for the pack.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – InterNACHI® is the only inspector organization that is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET) and recognized by the United States Department of Education. Only inspectors that have gone through InterNACHI certification can claim that they are a certified inspectors.
What training program did my inspector go through (being a contractor or in the trades is not the same).
Have they passed the National Home Inspector Exam?
Is my potential inspector InterNACHI certified?
How long has my inspector been in business?
Does my inspector have personal and professional (E and O) insurance?
Other steps in choosing an inspector
In a lot of cases, your realtor will have a recommended or list of recommended inspectors that they will refer. This is acceptable, but I would not rely on this alone. The questions outlined here should still be asked, but ultimately you should do your research and choose the best inspector you can.
Reviews are a great place to start. Having a decent number of reviews on Google or Angi's List is definitely a step in the right direction. Spend a moment reading some of these reviews to see if there is a pattern of positive attributes and to get an idea of the inspector's qualities.
Finally, interview your potential inspector(s); your gut will not be wrong. A quality inspector will be able to answer your questions, be happy to take as much time as you need, and will not pressure you to make a quick decision.
Realtor recommendations are good but still do your research.
Check and read reviews of your prospective inspector.
While family members and friends may be knowledgeable, they are not trained inspectors and should probably not be used to evaluate your new home. It's advisable that when making big purchases it would be a good idea to keep family and business separate.
Interview your inspector candidate.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. In the coming weeks, I will dig deeper into the home inspection process and cover subjects like; setting up your inspection, what happens on the day of the inspection, and what other services should I consider while I am under contingency.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me with questions.
Good luck to you!
Owner, Katz Family Home Inspection, LLC