Hiring a Home Inspector
How to Hire a Home Inspector
Maine Home Inspectors – How to Choose A Qualified and Independent Inspector
Buying property is probably the largest purchase you will ever make. If you think choosing a Maine home inspector based on the lowest price is the way to go, you are dead wrong! This could be a very costly mistake on your part! It also shows how much the inspector thinks his inspections are worth!
There are several things you should do when considering a Maine home inspector. First and foremost, take your time. There is no hurry as long as you begin the process before or right after you have a signed purchase and sale agreement. Don’t wait until the last minute because it will take a couple of days to complete a professional inspection report and you need to be within your agreement contingencies.
- Speak with the inspector. Find out what type of training and experience the inspector has. Certification is a must! If an inspector cannot prove they are certified, don’t hire them. There are no qualifications needed in Maine, and anyone, including your grandmother, can be a home inspector if they wish. The more training and certifications an inspector has, the better for you. This shows the inspector is serious about the business, is well-educated, and has the experience you need to protect your investment. Just because someone has been a builder or contractor does NOT make them qualified to be a home inspector! Additional and ongoing training is required.
- Is the inspector full or part-time? Would you hire a part-time doctor? Dentist? Lawyer? Well…why would you hire a part-time inspector? You want a professional that makes a living doing inspection services and nothing else. This tells you that the inspector is a true professional and keeps up on the latest industry standards. There is no such thing as a part-time professional.
- Does the inspector belong to any professional organizations? If not, you are taking a chance on hiring a firm that does not care about its reputation or business practices and does not keep up to date. Buyer beware! Websites often spell out qualifications, professional affiliations, provide verification links as well as customer comments. Always check with the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List before you hire anyone!
- Most real estate agents will provide you with three inspectors and these are usually hand-picked names. The first question you should ask yourself is this: “Are these inspectors really independent?” ALL will tell you they are. Only inspectors that belong to the Independent Home Inspectors of North America can truly say they are independent. You are paying for the inspection and its your decision alone who to hire to represent you. Do NOT be persuaded otherwise. It’s buyer beware!!
- Inspectors should be willing to provide you with a sample report. Some reports are written and sent in hard copy, others are sent in electronic form. Either is fine. Find out what type of report the inspector offers. On-site or verbal reports are NOT recommended in most cases (foreclosures and short sales aside). These are skimpy at best and don’t provide the level of information you need to make an intelligent decision. If an inspector tries to push these types of reports, keep looking for another inspector! Just how much detail and time is involved in an on-site or verbal report? You do want to avoid a simple checklist type report. This is very minimal, and does not give you a good picture of the property. A narrative report, with digital pictures that includes some checklist type items is ideal. Most websites provide a link to a sample report. If not, ask for one.
- Find out what, if anything, is excluded from the inspection. The inspector you talk to should be willing to walk you through a typical inspection. Do not be afraid to ask the inspector such questions as: “How do you inspect the chimney? What is your policy on crawl spaces? Will you remove the electrical covers, test outlets and evaluate the wiring? Do you mind if I follow you around during the inspection? How long will a typical inspection take? About how many pages is a typical report? How soon do I get the report? Do you make recommendations regarding repairs and how soon they need to be done? My inspections leave no doubt about the property you are considering!
- Pay attention to how much time the inspector spends with you on the phone. A willingness to answer your questions on the phone may indicate his or her attitude during the inspection. If an inspector is pushy or uses pressure tactics, move on! Good inspectors do not resort to intimidation.
- What do past clients have to say about the inspector? A reliable inspector is not afraid to supply references or testimonials from happy clients.
A professional inspector should have three goals:
- To find readily accessible, major defects in the house.
- To provide the client with the cause and effects of such defects that will help the homebuyer develop a clear understanding of what repairs are needed and or are on an “immediate or deferred” repair plan.
- To educate the homebuyer about the house. For example, the inspector should point out where the main water, electrical disconnect switch and heating system shut offs are in case of an emergency.
The inspection is an invaluable learning experience, so plan on being there the entire time. Take notes if you wish. Be sure you understand everything the inspector points out and make sure it is put into the report. If anything is unclear, ask the inspector to explain during the inspection, in the report and/or after you have received the report. A professional inspector should be willing to answer any questions, even after you own the property.
The inspection report is an important document. It is one of the tools you should use to decide whether or not to buy the property or to re-negotiate the price.
The report is confidential and belongs to you alone. A Buyer should not feel pressured to share the report with the seller or the seller’s broker and should review the report with his or her own attorney.
Fees for a typical professional home inspection vary from approximately $250 to $700 (or more, depending on size, age and condition of the property, square footage, out-buildings, etc., as well as how well trained and experienced the inspector is, and what additional services are included). Some inspectors offer additional services outside the scope of a normal home inspection, including a pest inspection, a well test, a water quality test and testing for mold or radon.
While the cost of an inspection is a concern to all homebuyers, price alone should not dictate your decision. When one is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home, getting the most competent and professional inspector should be a first priority.