How to Select a Home Inspector

Choosing a home inspector

The home inspector is responsible for telling you the things you need to know about the home you are interested in. His or her ability to spot potential issues is vital for you to make an informed purchase, one you will be happy with over the long-term. Knowing how to select a home inspector becomes paramount, especially for first-time buyers.You only need to do a quick search for home inspectors in your area to find numerous options, but as with so many professions, some inspectors are better than others. The following tips will help you find a home inspector that you can be happy with, someone you can trust to provide you with all the relevant facts about the home you want to buy.


What's important to us? Your Home and Safety


Use these ten tips for picking a home inspector to increase the odds of having a pleasant home inspection experience! 


5 top Tips For Choosing A Reliable Home Inspector

1. Get a reference from your real estate agent.

One of the best resources for picking a home inspector should be your Realtor. Do you know your real estate agent well and trust them? Do you feel they have your best interests at heart and are not more concerned about their pocket book? If you can confidently answer these two questions in the affirmative, then there is no reason not to trust your Realtors advice on who to select as a home inspector.


If your agent has been in business for any length of time, they have probably encountered quite a few home inspectors. By observation, your agent can see who does a thorough job and who does not.


An exceptional buyers agent, one who wants the best for their client, will have a couple of home inspectors they know to go through a home with a fine tooth comb. A trustworthy agent will not be worrying about whether choosing the “tough inspector” will cause the sale to fall apart.


If you just met your real estate agent and didn’t know them that well, you may want to consider finding your inspector. Like every other business, there are good and bad apples in the real estate industry. There are some real estate agents who will “steer” their clients to a hand-picked list of home inspectors who are less observant than others when it comes to finding problems.


On the other hand, some excellent home inspectors do not have great delivery when it comes to pointing out issues. Having been in business for 27 years, I have found that the way problems are communicated can have a dramatic effect on a buyer.


Some of the worst home inspectors while thorough, use scare tactics to make problems sound way worse than they are! Why do they do this? If you don’t buy the home, you’re more than likely going to call them on the next house. Real Estate agents like to call this a two for one. This is the mark of an unprofessional inspector. Yes, there are bad home inspectors just like there are bad real estate agents!


An excellent home inspector will not only be thorough but will take the time to explain the severity of an issue. If the problem they have found is a common one and not something to be genuinely concerned, they should explain this to you. Some of the most common home inspection problems can usually be corrected fairly quickly. 

2. Look for a company that is bonded and insured.

Whether you go with a big company or a single inspector working on his or her own, you want to make sure that whoever examines the home is bonded and insured. Finding out about insurance is one of the most important questions to ask when interviewing a home inspection.


Depending on your area, a home inspector may be able to conduct business without insurance. The problem with uninsured home inspectors is that they may try to hold you or the homeowner liable if they are injured during the inspection. 


Climbing in attics and wandering through basements and crawl spaces does carry a certain amount of risk, which is why reputable home inspectors carry insurance. If the basement steps are rotten and the inspector falls and breaks a leg, you don’t want to have to worry about being sued. If the inspector is not bonded or insured, I would cross them off your list immediately. 

3. Verify that the inspection company only does inspections – not home repairs and renovations.

Hiring someone that just does inspections is an important tip for finding the right home inspector! Home inspection companies that sell other services – such as roofing, plumbing, kitchen and bathroom renovations, etc. – have a conflict of interest. The fact that they sell repair and renovation services means they are more likely to see problems where there aren’t any.


You want an objective opinion on the state of the house, not a soft sell on renovation or repair services. Of course, the company may do an excellent job of separating its inspection and repair services. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know if you will be encouraged to make unnecessary repairs until you hire and pay for the inspection. 


Choose a home inspection company that’s focused solely on inspections. If you are interested in the cost of repairs or renovations, bring in a contractor after the inspection is over. 

4. Find out what the inspection includes and how long it takes.

The best home inspection will be a thorough one, where the inspector goes over every little detail of the home. You want an inspection that looks at every component of the home, including: 

 

  • The plumbing system.
  • The electrical system.
  • The structural condition.
  • The heating and air conditioning systems.
  • The basement and foundation.
  • The roof and attic.
  • Evidence of water penetration or grading issues.
  • Pests such as bugs and wildlife.
  • Environmental issues such as Mold, Radon, Asbestos and Lead Paint
  • Appliances and other general components of the home.

Knowing what an inspector will look at also allows you to shop around and compare services. Some inspectors may only focus on the structure itself and nothing more. Just know going in exactly what you are getting.


Most home inspections should take two to three hours to complete. If you are purchasing a larger home, a fixer-upper or an older home, the inspection will more than likely take even longer. Don’t hire someone who tells you they will complete the inspection within an hour or two. It is unlikely the inspector will be able to do a thorough job in that limited time span. 

5. Get references.

It is always worthwhile to ask for references when you are hiring a service, and home inspectors are no exception. Ideally, you want to get new references from at least a few different clients. You can ask each customer about his or her experience with the inspection company. Did the inspector seem knowledgeable? Did he or she turn up on time? Was the report comprehensive and relatively easy to understand? 


 While references are excellent, keep in mind that the inspection company probably gave you contact information for the most satisfied customers. That is why it’s helpful to get multiple references. The more people you talk to, the clearer a picture you will have about the company’s work. Just like picking a real estate agent is important, so is your inspector.