Buying Your First Home? How To Find a Reliable Inspector

The house looks great and the seller has accepted your offer, but you've noticed something:  Throughout the process everyone has bandied about the phrase "subject to inspection". Each home inspection company has its own pricing structure.  Inspection fees vary based on the area of the country and the type, size, and features of the home or building. Most inspectors will charge extra for services such as radon testing, termite inspections, well, and septic inspections. A typical inspection fee for a 2,000 square foot home varies from $190 to $500 in big cities.

You get what you pay for when it comes to inspectors, though, so check the inspector’s credentials and compare the types of reports any two inspectors will do if they quote two very different prices.

Ask the inspector what he does for the price he quotes you, and be sure he mentions problems specific to your area, such as asbestos, termites, or roof issues in heavy rain areas. You might also want some specific testing, such as radon and water samples.

Find out how much experience an inspector has. If an inspector has not been performing inspections very long that does not mean that he or she is not qualified, it just means that you will need to ask more questions.

Has the inspector gone through any extensive training in home inspection? There are several training companies that provide hands-on training. Also, you may ask what other related experience the inspector has. Many inspectors have been in the building trades for several years and have considerable knowledge of home construction.

Does the inspector belong to a professional home inspection organization? Companies that are affiliated with professional organizations are serious about what they do, and they know about all the new developments in their fields. They are kept up-to-date about changes in the building codes and city requirements. Some of them include:

• American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) • National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) • National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE) • California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) • National Institute of Building Inspectors (NIBI)

There are several other local organizations that provide support for the home inspectors in certain states or regions. It is important that the inspector belongs to an association and abides by a set of guidelines that require professionalism in the industry.

Does the inspector carry professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance)? Make sure you ask for a copy of their liability insurance policy. If you ever need to collect on a legal judgment, the inspector’s insurance policy will be able to pay on your claim. An inspector without insurance my not be able to pay your claim.

From A Single Woman’s Guide to Real Estate, Copyright ©2006, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications, Inc. Co. All rights reserved.