A home inspector can save you from making a bad purchase.
But what if your home inspector is the bad purchase? Hire a qualified home inspector by looking out for these warning signs.
1. The home inspector has inadequate training
Some states don’t require any licensing for home inspection, which makes the choice in those areas even riskier. But even if licensing is required, that's no guarantee of post-inspection happiness.
Investigate the requirements for licensing in your area, and call or check online to make sure the inspector holds a valid license and has kept up with his or her continuing education. Standards frequently change in this industry, so it’s imperative that home inspectors have not only met the standard for licensing, but have committed to being on the forefront of their field.
Also look for home inspectors who hold certifications in a national organization, like the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
2. The home inspector doesn’t answer questions
Most home buyers prefer to be present during the inspection, but it's important that the inspector be allowed to focus on the task at hand.
That said, most competent inspectors are willing to meet with the buyer at the end of the inspection to go over the findings and answer questions. At the very least, they should be available to answer questions over the phone once you receive the final report.
If your attempts to communicate with your inspector have been met by a wall of silence, this could be a big red flag.
Make sure your requests have been clearly communicated to the inspector ahead of time. If your inspector refuses to let you attend any portion of the inspection, hire someone else.
If the inspection is completed and you can't get your questions answered, go to the inspector's licensing board or any professional organizations to which he or she belongs. These sources will often have some type of mediation services available. If time won't permit mediation, see if your real estate agent can have his or her broker step in and convey the urgency of the situation to the inspector.
3. The inspector performs a “drive-by” inspection
As the name implies, a "drive-by" inspection is the industry term for an inspector who doesn't spend a sufficient amount of time inspecting a home.
I've heard stories of inspectors who get a lot of business from unprincipled real estate agents because they rarely spend more than 20 minutes at a house before sending off a clean inspection report, thus ensuring a sale and a fat commission check for the agent.
A single inspector working alone should spend between two to four hours inspecting a home, depending on the house size, type of foundation and how many different systems there are to inspect. If you learn from multiple sources that the inspector has a reputation for only being present for a short period of time, you may want to reconsider hiring that person.
About this Experts Contributor: Edie Sherwood is the owner and office manager of Area Wide Inspections, providing home inspection services in Lubbock, Texas. Area Wide Inspections also provides new construction inspections, FHA inspections and construction consulting.
As of Sept. 22, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angi. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.