How to Choose the “Right” Home Inspector?
By Jeff Manders of Gadget Home Inspections June 9th 2010
You’ve looked at a lot of houses, put in offers & finally your offer has been accepted. Now you have to get an inspection, and fast. You usually have around 5 days to get the inspection completed.
First you have to find an inspector, and a good one. But how do you know? Well, it’s tough in Minnesota, because Minnesota does not license its’ inspectors. So really, anyone can call themselves a “home inspector”, kind of scary.
Make sure your inspector is a member of an accredited home inspection organization (ASHI, NACHI, NAHI). To be a member of any of these organizations you must pass a National Home Inspector Certification Test. National certification testing is often more difficult than state licensing exams & is actually required to get your license in some states. These organizations also require their home inspectors to complete continuing education credits every year (with NACHI I complete a minimum of 24 credits/year).
You should also inquire about experience and education of the inspector. Just because someone has 30 years of building/construction experience does not necessarily mean they are qualified to inspect a furnace or hot water heater. I point these out because in most cases these appliances burn natural gas and emit carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. So it’s important the inspector you choose is qualified to inspect these appliances as well as all other facets of the home.
Also, make sure your inspector can and is willing to inspect everything. At first glance it may not appear to be a physical job, but a good inspector has to get in some pretty unusual positions to properly inspect crawl spaces, attic space etc… Just last week I was inspecting a house that had a new kitchen addition and a crawl space under the kitchen. It was a very tight space to get to. Accessible only through a old small basement window that had plumbing running through it, and the crawl space was only 18 inches high, so very difficult to crawl around. But wouldn’t you know it, the floor joists weren’t even attached to the ledger board… no nails, no brackets, nothing. And the ledger board was attached to the house band by nails. Sorry to get technical there, but basically one side of their kitchen floor WAS NOT being supported at all. And the board that should have been supporting them was attached by nails, when bolts are more appropriate. That is a pretty major defect. If I wasn’t able to get into a small opening, there’s no way I would’ve ever seen that.
So you did your homework and found a very qualified home inspector… what does the inspection cost? Some inspectors charge by finished square footage, others by listing price and others just charge a flat fee. Usually the price is around $300, give or take a few dollars. Advise to buyers out there. Don’t skimp on the inspection. If you do happen to find a qualified inspector at a good price, great! But please don’t pick the cheapest inspector to inspect your new home. You’re probably making the largest investment in your life, and the money spent on the inspection gives you valuable information, not only on the condition of the house, but more importantly the safety of your new home.
You have questions about this blog or home inspections? Feel free to contact me.