Asking the Right Questions to Find the Best Home Inspector for You

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                 Imagine that you need a new dishwasher.  Would you purchase it by calling a couple of retail stores and only asking "how much does your dishwasher cost"? If you are like me, you would research the features, benefits, options  and quality of several models, and then pick one.


                Based upon years  of taking calls for setting up home inspections, the by far, most often asked question is "How much do you charge." More often than not, it turns out to be the only question.  If you think that it is really the most important question,  think about the Chinese drywall and Chinese  laminate flooring. Along with a lower cost, you received  products that can harm you with sulfur and formaldehyde respectively.  Low cost buying can land up being very expensive in the long run.     


                                The second most asked question is "can you do the inspection tomorrow."  It is understandable that you want the inspection done quickly. It is also true that if you are good at your job, you will be busier than someone who is not very good.  If you go to a strange town, you  are better off waiting in line at a busy diner than walking into the diner without any cars in its parking lot.  Waiting for a great inspector is better than rushing for a less qualified one.  Make sure  that your sales agreement allows at least 15 days for the home inspection.


                It would not be fair to tell you the wrong questions to start with and not tell you the right  questions to ask. So, here they are:


·         How long have you been inspecting homes?

·         Is home inspection your full time profession?

·         How many homes have you inspected ?

·         Which inspector supervised you for your initial 100 inspections  as required by PA Act 114?

·         What is your previous construction experience?

·         Do you have any special area of related expertise and education ?   

·         What training do you have in home inspections?

·         How long does your inspection take?

·         Will you explain how to take care of my home during the inspection?

·         What will my report be like?

·         When and how will I receive my report?  


                All Inspectors are not created equal.  By the way, some  inspectors, just  like any profession can be "untruthful" if you ask them the questions above.  After getting your answers, take a look at their website and search their social media presence.  If their website is non-existent, sparse or poorly done, that is a good indicator of how long they have been in the business and what kind of reporting you will receive. If the first trace of their name in home inspection circles are only a year old, you can bet they do not have very much experience, no matter what they told you.


                If there are special circumstances in your home purchase, you may needs a specialist. If the house smells like mold, you want an environmental specialist. If there is a septic system , you want someone familiar with those. Oil furnace, same thing. Add those needs to your research criteria.  


                When Talking with your Potential Home Inspector, Look for the Following  Qualities.


                Communication skills: The first and most important issue past core competency is how they connect with you. If they are not on your wavelength, they are not the inspector for you.   An inspector's website and phone discussion may provide important clues as to that quality.     


                Joy and enthusiasm:  You want someone who loves their work enough to treat you with the same enthusiasm and interest that they would if it was their own family buying a home.


                Belief in exceeding the minimum practices: The  Standard of Practices allows for only random testing of items like outlets and windows. It is really not enough to know if one window per floor is working. Checking gas leaks, lifting ceiling tiles and many other standard items for good inspectors are not required in the standards. You want an inspector who does far more than the minimum.


                Listening skills:  If an inspector does not listen and understand your needs, they can't provide the best service and advice to you.   


Undertaking the Home Inspector Search

                Your best sources for finding an inspector are friends, colleagues and family who have gone through the home buying process. Understand that most Real Estate Professionals will direct you to the better inspectors.  Also understand that a  few will suggest some less qualified inspectors who will not be as thorough.  


                One of the major changes in our modern world is online referral sources.  The dirty secret about the online services is that service providers pay for position on those listings. The services like Angie's List, Home Advisor and many more are in the business of making a profit by collecting advertising money from the listed professionals. More money can result in higher listing on their pages.


                This internet sponsored search system can go a step further. The new feature  such as on  Angie's List where they will directly arrange for your services takes a significant percentage fee of the entire cost of the purchase.  The top choices are paying to be the top choices.  Association sites like  or list all members with a short biography and enough information to begin unbiased research.     


                Would you only consider price when you hire a financial planner, lawyer, medical provider? You want the best match for your needs.  A  little research can save you a lot of future problems with what you had hoped to be your dream home.  By the way, there are many less qualified inspectors who do charge more than better inspectors, so do not select by high cost either. You want VALUE, not just price.