Choosing the right home inspector isn’t as simple as it sounds. You’ll need to identify a company that’s qualified for the job, and has experience inspecting homes in your area. This can be very helpful in identifying common issues within an area or the year your home was built in.
Price is not the only concern. Your home inspector is responsible for identifying as many issues with a house, condo, or townhouse as possible. Trusting they will do and have a done a good job can give you peace of mind that goes beyond minor dollar differences. For many people safety is the number one concern. You want to be sure that you are not putting loved ones at risk because something was overlooked. Here are a few things you can, and probably should research before choosing your home inspector.
Real home inspection experience counts for a lot
Hiring someone with several years of experience as a home inspector in your city can go a long way to making sure you get a great home inspection. Studying home inspection is not the same as having 10 years of experience, but the true winners are those with the education and the experience. Asking whether they are a full time home inspector can also be an added benefit. Full time inspectors will keep their skills sharp due to the repetition of work that part time inspectors won’t have time for.
Read through their reviews and testimonials from clients where ever you can find them. Check that the reviews are from real people where possible, Google is a fairly safe bet. Be wary of a home inspector with 100% positive reviews though. Although they may all be real and accurate, a mix of high rated reviews with the odd lower review may be more realistic. No one is perfect.
Look for high quality home inspection reports
Home inspection reports can differ greatly from company to company. More and more reports are including images to better support the home inspector’s findings. Images are not the only important factor you should look for though. Proper inspection reports will provide you with enough information to make an informed decision. You should have a much clearer idea of whether or not you want to purchase a property. This can include details about each part of the house, and the condition that different areas are in. There should also be a list of aspects that require normal maintenance. Foresight into maintenance timelines can help you avoid costly repairs. If the inspector’s report is calling for additional inspections to be done check to make sure this is a rare occurrence as additional inspections cost more time and money to do. The home inspector should be confident in their ability to accurately assess a building.
What type of equipment do they use?
Professional home inspection companies use high quality equipment. They invest in their equipment because they want to do the best job they can for their customers, and separate themselves from their competition. Experience is a tool as well, and they will be able to better communicate their findings to you. No two houses are 100% identical, and different tools will be required depending on the job.
Some of the more common tools that you will see them use include:
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Electrical circuit testers
- Digital cameras
- Infrared cameras
Infrared Thermography Technology (IR)
Infrared cameras can detect concerns that aren’t easily visible to the naked eye. Good home inspectors will use IR Thermography to find more complex issues with a building. This non invasive technology, uses a viewfinder to take a picture of an area in or around the home. The images will provide your inspector with a more detailed analysis of the structure, and its envelope.
How long do they actually spend inspecting the building?
Generally an inspection should take between 3 and 5 hours depending on the size of the home and the accessibility to required areas. You don’t want a home inspector who is going to rush through the job. Taking their time allows your inspector to be more thorough and find additional issues that can impact your final decision on the home.
Don’t always go with the inspector your realtor recommends
Most real estate agents have a few home inspectors that they’ve worked with in the past. Usually they will recommend the ones that have provided good experiences for both them and their clients. It is always a good idea to look for your own home inspector as well as reviewing the ones your realtor suggests to better understand who you’re hiring. The more information you can have the better decision you can make when hiring your home inspector.
Make sure the inspector is part of a professional and reputable organization
Most professional home inspectors have been trained or certified by a reputable organization. In BC an example of this would be the Home Inspectors Association BC (HIABC). This association holds inspectors to strict standards and a code of ethics which you can review to better understand the level of service you will be getting. Your inspector may also be registered with Consumer Protection BC. These and similar credentials are another indication of a trustworthy inspection company.
Limitations of liability
There are limitations to what all home inspectors can do. Their job is to find the major issues, as best as possible.They are limited to checking only the areas that are visible. Legally they are not allowed to open walls or appliances to check what is happening behind the scenes. This is an issue of safety, and puts limitations on their liability. You want an inspector who is thorough, but don’t expect them to examine every item in the home.
Things to Remember
Hiring a qualified and experienced inspector who can prove they do great work is the goal. The right home inspector is an essential tool in real estate purchasing decisions. If you’re not able to find out from the home inspector’s website, give them a call and find out any missing details you can.