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Buying and selling homes involves making tough choices. One of those is how to choose a home inspector. Home inspectors are responsible for performing, you guessed it, home inspections. Before a home is sold, home inspectors should check whether it’s structurally sound and that the heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing are functioning properly. 

It’s an important job, and hiring the right person is key. Learning how to pick a home inspector involves understanding the qualifications and the experience of the inspector. We’ll cover both in this article.

What to look for in a home inspector

A home inspection is more than a box to check before buying or selling a home. It’s an essential step for protecting the buyer from potential financial and safety disasters, and only a trained eye can do the job properly. That means your selection of a home inspector matters. The home inspector you choose should pass more than an eye test, meeting multiple official criteria that underscore their expertise, experience, and trustworthiness. Here’s what to look for. 

1. Licensed and certified home inspector

First and foremost, your home inspector must be licensed and certified. A home inspection certification confirms that the inspector has passed a state-accredited program including training, on-site experience, and an exam. These certifications are legally required in most states, but even in states where they’re not they still provide an essential mark of reliability. [1]

2. Member of a professional home inspection association

Certifications are important, but the best home inspectors also belong to associations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Home inspectors can access additional training through these associations and prospective home buyers gain reassurance through the ethical codes and heightened standards association inspectors are held to. 

3. Level of expertise and experience

Even a certified inspector can be a bit green, but you want your inspector to have experience with numerous homes before they look at yours. Be sure to find out how long potential candidates have been in the field before making your choice. The longer an inspector has worked, the more experience they’ll have seeing diverse problems in a wide variety of homes.   

How to find a home inspector

Now that you know you need a licensed home inspector, it’s time to talk about how to find one. You might be tempted to go with the first inspector who satisfies the above criteria, but second opinions matter in your selection. Here are some ways to crowdsource your search to more reliably and easily find a home inspector.

Get referrals for home inspectors

Referrals can be a great help but be careful who you ask. If you’re a buyer in need of a house inspection, your real estate agent may offer up an inspector they regularly use. Don’t assume they have your best interests at heart, though. Your priority is to buy a house that is completely safe and worth every penny you’re paying, but your agent may have a conflict of interest. 

The inspector they recommend may even have priorities tied into their relationship with your real estate agent, potentially muddying the waters further. When gathering referrals, go to people you know and trust who live in the area you’re moving to and have recently purchased a home – family members, friends, etc.

Read home inspector reviews

Sometimes you won’t know anyone who can give a good referral. In those cases, quantity can be a decent substitute for quality. You can find countless reviews online using platforms like Yelp. Will all those reviews be reliable? Doubtful. But if you find a home inspector with 50 reviews and 45 are positive, that’s a good sign you can trust them. If you’re extra cautious, you can also search through a professional home inspector association. ASHI and InterNACHI both have databases you can comb through to find a reliable inspector. [2] 

Questions to ask a home inspector

Let’s say you’ve found a home inspector and are ready to bring them onboard to finalize the sale. Before you do, you’ll want to test them one more time. Asking a few questions will usually confirm if you have the right inspector.  

1. Ask for a sample report

If the home inspector you’re talking to truly has adequate experience, they’ll have sample reports from past inspections to prove it. These can also confirm whether they are thorough in their work and effective at communicating the problems they find. Be wary of reports that are short or lacking in detail.

2. Ask about the use of technology

The old home you’re purchasing may not have changed much in the past 50 years, but the technology used for assessing it has. You’ll want to make sure the home inspector you choose is using new technology, as many of these new tools can detect problems the naked eye will miss. Ask about technology like infrared detection, moisture meters, and electronic radon monitors. [1]

3. Ask if they’re an insured home inspector

An uninsured home inspector can cause you trouble in a couple of ways. The first is by getting injured on the job. If they don’t have personal liability insurance, you could end up being asked to foot their medical bills. The second is by missing something important in their inspection. Professional liability insurance covers costs if something is missed and results in legal action or corrective repairs. [1]

4. Ask about the cost of a home inspection and what is included

Home inspections are a preventative cost. The money you spend on it today can help ensure you aren’t losing in the future due to an undetected issue. Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure the inspection covers everything important. Ask about the cost of the inspection and what it will include. Depending on your inspector, a basic inspection may not cover the use of high-tech elements or specialized tests. [2]

Choose the best home inspector for your house.

As you can see, there’s more to a home inspection than meets the eye. But seeing past the surface level is what home inspections are all about. Every home sale includes a due diligence period in which inspections can take place, a time in which prospective buyers must speak up about found issues. Some kinds of damage, such as foundation damage, may not covered by insurance if homeowners had a chance to discover them during the buying process but did not. So, it's important to do your due diligence. The extra time taken to ensure you have a reliable inspector will pay dividends in avoiding those unexpected future costs.

[1] "How To Choose A Home Inspector," (Accessed December 2023).

[2] "How to Choose a Home Inspector," (Accessed December 2023).

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