When you get serious about buying a particular home, an important step is to have the home inspected for both minor and major defects. Follow these steps to find a qualified home inspector who will deliver an accurate and complete report.
Choosing a home inspector is an important process, so begin your search for an inspector before you start looking at homes. That way, you'll have more time to vet professionals.
You'll want to hire an inspector who has a broad knowledge about a home's systems, so it's smart to hire an inspector who's a licensed professional engineer (PE). You can search for PE's on the website for the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers. If a home has a structural problem, for instance, the opinion of a PE is extremely valuable.
One of the best ways to find a skilled home inspector is to seek out the recommendations of friends, family, or a trusted real estate agent. (Do not choose an inspector who has an affiliation with the seller's real estate agent, or the agency that's selling the home.)
You can also search for quality home inspectors in your area on the American Society of Home Inspectors' website. The website can provide you with the contact information of inspectors who have met ASHI's code of ethics and standards of practice.
NAHI, the National Association of Home Inspectors, has a website that also allows you to search for local home inspectors.
Look into whether the inspectors you're considering hiring have ASHI certification. Also find out whether your state regulates home inspectors, and if they do, check each inspector's license with the state and research whether there have been any complaints against him or her. You can check up on your inspector on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Angie's List.
Talk to inspectors you're considering and ask them about their expertise, background, how long they've been in the business, how many inspections they've performed, how they will conduct their inspection, what will be included in their report (you'll want a computer-printed report, not a handwritten one), and what they charge for their services. Ask to see a sample copy of a written report he or she has completed.
You'll also want to ask if the inspector will provide photos of problematic areas, as well as a checklist of systems checked. Find out how long the inspection will take -- expect a quality inspection to take at least a few hours. Ask your inspector how long it will take for the completed report to be returned to you.
Make sure the inspector you hire carries errors and omissions insurance specifically for conducting home inspections. The insurance's purpose is to cover mistakes or oversights (e.g., home flaws an inspector may have overlooked) of a home inspection. Inspectors who have E&O insurance have a better ability to cover any claims filed against them. Those who don't have the insurance are less likely to pay a claim.
The day of the inspection, you'll want to be there. You'll get an idea of how good a job the inspector did; he or she can also show you and explain problems found in person, or assure you that minor faults found aren't major ones.