Should I use a contractor or a home inspector to inspect a house I'm buying?
Friday, July 27, 2018
Building contractors and home inspectors bring different skills and experience to the process of evaluating a property for a homebuyer. Because contractors have a background in building homes from the ground up, it gives them a kind of x-ray vision when looking at a structure, with a clear understanding of what’s under the walls and behind the ceilings.
But contractors typically don’t have much knowledge of construction methods and materials that predate their entry into the industry. Also, looking at a building carefully and sequentially requires a different mind-set and style than managing a construction site. Contractors build houses and home inspectors examine them.
Home inspectors have a broader knowledge of typical defects that are found during a home inspection, techniques for finding them, along with specialized skill in documenting and presenting the defects found. But they often lack the hands-on experience of actually building a house.
The State of Florida started licensing home inspectors in 2011, with testing for licensure and required continuing education every two years for license renewal, along with minimum standards for professional liability insurance for licensees. Since the law has been in effect, you must have a license to call yourself a home inspector in Florida.
But the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB), which separately oversees licensing of building contractors in the state, issued their interpretation of the home inspection licensing law on May 15th, 2012. It allows state-licensed contractors to do home inspections, as long as the contractor is not “holding themself out specifically as a home inspector licensed under Chapter 468, Florida Statues.”
In other words, Florida-licensed contractors (Certified Division 1) can do home inspections as long as they don’t actually call themselves a “home inspector”. See our blog post Can a Florida licensed contractor do home inspections without having a home inspector license? to learn more about this.
We think your best choice between contractor and inspector is not to choose at all. Find someone who is licensed as both, with the construction background of a contractor and training and experience from looking at lots of homes of a home inspector. There are plenty of them out there, including us.
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To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:
To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:
How To Look At A House
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