What questions should you always ask before hiring a home inspector?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has prepared a list on their website, entitled “Ten Important Questions To Ask Your Home Inspector.” We have reproduced it below, along with our answers (in italics) to each of the suggested questions; but we think you should use the questions just as a starting point for a conversation with a prospective home inspector. There are a number of qualified, competent home inspectors in most areas, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding one compatible with your needs.

1. What does your inspection cover?

The inspector should ensure that their inspection and inspection report will meet all requirements in your state, if applicable, and will comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics. You should be able to request and see a copy of these items ahead of time and ask any questions you may have. If there are any areas you want to make sure are inspected, be sure to identify them upfront.

A complete listing of the items we cover in our inspection is on the page “What We Do” on our website. An abbreviated version would include site, roof, attic, crawl space, doors, windows, interior walls, exterior structure and finishes, electric service, panels, receptacle outlets and fixture, HVAC system, major appliances, plumbing, hot water heater, and smoke alarms. We comply with the standards of practice and code of ethics of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

2. How long have you been practicing in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed?

The inspector should be able to provide his or her history in the profession and perhaps even a few names as referrals. Newer inspectors can be very qualified, and many work with a partner or have access to more experienced inspectors to assist them in the inspection.

We have been doing home inspections since 2002, and have completed over 5000 inspections. Look on our “About Us” page of this website for reviews of our work by previous customers.

3. Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?

Related experience in construction or engineering is helpful, but is no substitute for training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection. If the inspection is for a commercial property, then this should be asked about as well.

Both Richard and Greg are licensed building contractors, with years of experience building and remodeling homes and commercial buildings in Florida.

4. Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection?

Some inspector associations and state regulations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in the inspection. Other associations and regulations strictly forbid this as a conflict of interest.

No, we do not offer to do repairs based on our inspection. We think it creates a potential conflict of interest, and so does InterNACHI, the national home inspector association that we belong to, and ban their members from doing inspection-related repairs.

5. How long will the inspection take?

The average on-site inspection time for a single inspector is two to three hours for a typical single-family house; anything significantly less may not be enough time to perform a thorough inspection. Additional inspectors may be brought in for very large properties and buildings.

Because we do a two-man inspection, our average is about two hours, and maybe up to three hours for larger homes.

6. How much will it cost?

Costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size and age of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range might be $300-$500, but consider the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made. Cost does not necessarily reflect quality. HUD Does not regulate home inspection fees.

We post our fees on our website, and can give you a price quote over the phone anytime. The base cost is $295 for homes of up to 1,750 square feet of conditioned space (porches and garages not included). There is a $50 additional charge for home 40 years old or more, because they are always more work for us. Also, it’s an added $25 to $50 travel surcharge for homes outside Alachua County, depending on distance.

7. What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?

Ask to see samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector's reporting style and if the time parameters fulfill your needs. Most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.

We provide a computer-generated report, with photos, in a pdf format by email, next day after inspection. Call or email us to receive a sample report.

8. Will I be able to attend the inspection?

This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector's refusal to allow this should raise a red flag. Never pass up the opportunity to see your prospective home through the eyes of an expert.

We welcome you to attend the inspection if you can.

9. Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association?

There are many state and national associations for home inspectors. Request to see their membership ID, and perform whatever due diligence you deem appropriate.

We are both members of InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home inspectors. On our website page “About Us,” you will find links to verify our membership, along with Florida home inspector and building contractor licenses.

10. Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?

One can never know it all, and the inspector's commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his or her professionalism and service to the consumer. This is especially important in cases where the home is much older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

Yes, we do 20 to 30 hours of on-line classes and live seminars each year to stay abreast of the continually evolving challenges of home inspection. Also, the research for writing our weekly blog posts keeps us up-to-date on many issues.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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