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:

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? 

    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 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 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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