How to Hire a Home Inspector You Can Trust

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated February 14, 2022
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Don’t waste time on inexperienced home inspectors

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When it comes to buying or selling a home, a quality home inspection is an absolute must-have. As a matter of fact, many states require an inspection as part of the home purchasing process. Professional home inspectors near you comb through every nook and cranny of a home to suss out any potential dangers, but how do you find the right inspector for you? Keep reading to find out. 

How to Find a Home Inspector 

Real estate agents pass out recommendations for home inspectors, but do your homework before accepting their suggestions. There are plenty of qualified and local home inspection companies listed online and many databases to comb through. Ask your neighbors for recommendations, and spend some time on local message boards. Read plenty of reviews ahead of time, and ask any potential inspector for proof of state certification or membership in the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

Before Hiring a Home Inspector 

Preparation is essential to make the most out of your home inspection report. Research any potential inspectors thoroughly, and give them a call ahead of time to discuss pricing and to ask any pertinent home inspection questions. Also, ask what the inspection process entails. A real pro will physically crawl the attic and crawl space instead of just taking a quick look around from the opening or doorway. 

Ask How Many Inspections They’ve Conducted

ASHI requires at least 250 inspections for membership, but that’s just the bare minimum of experience necessary to conduct a quality inspection. For maximum peace of mind, find someone who's performed at least 1,000 inspections and has at least three to five years of full-time experience in the field. The more experience they have, the less likely they’ll miss something. 

Inquire About Insurance and Licensure

Ask to see proof of licensing if your state requires one, and inquire about proof of general liability insurance as well as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. E&O insurance is especially important for home inspections, especially if you’re selling or buying property. Even the most seasoned pros make mistakes, and E&O insurance protects both the inspector and the homeowner in these cases. 

Talk About Costs 

A home inspection costs between $200 and $500, but get this number in writing before hiring anyone. The costs vary depending on the age of a home, its size, and other factors. Have that information at the ready while collecting quotes.

Preparing for a Home Inspection 

Once you’ve hired a home inspector, there are some steps to take to ensure an accurate assessment of your home.

Declutter and Clean

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You want to make things easy on the inspector so they can do their job quickly, efficiently, and free from error. Start by cleaning the house and decluttering the basement and attic. Replace faulty light bulbs and clean moss and debris from your roof gutters. 

Also, go around the perimeter of your property and pick up trash and stored items, clearing away errant brush as you go. Make sure there’s ready and unimpeded access to every single part of your property. 

Change Out Filters and Label the Fuse Box

The prep work continues. Change out all of your air and furnace filters, so the inspector sees your HVAC system working at its absolute peak. Also, clearly label the fuse box so they can check on each fuse and, as such, the electrical output throughout the home. The point here is to show you care about your property and reduce the chances of the inspector noting a poorly performing HVAC unit, for instance, when it's just a filter issue. 

Attend the Inspection

You certainly don't have to attend the inspection, but it makes good sense to do so. You'll be there to explain any potential issues and discuss the findings afterward. The only downside? A thorough home inspection takes three to four hours, so plan for a whole lot of small talk with your inspector.

After Your Pro Finishes

A home inspection report reveals problems that need fixing and other points of interest to homeowners or potential buyers. In other words, once the inspection finishes, you still have a few things to do.

Read the Report Thoroughly

Many inspectors provide their report on the same day of the inspection. Take some time to read the report thoroughly and internalize the findings. The best home inspection reports are easy to understand, precise, and feature multiple pictures and diagrams. If you can't make heads or tails out of the information, contact your pro and ask them to redo it with more straightforward terminology. If you’re the home buyer, review the inspection report for potential deal breakers that should make you think twice about the sale.

Store the Report Somewhere Safe

Once you have the report in your hands, store it somewhere safe with other necessary documents. Also, make a few copies for safety's sake, and use a scanner to create a digital version. You never know when you'll need the home inspection report, especially if you're in the midst of selling your home. 

Call With Any Lingering Questions 

Disagree with any of the findings? Call your inspector for further discussion and elaboration. Home inspectors are human after all and make mistakes, so you could potentially get an item reversed, providing you have the proof. Even if you agree with the assessment, it’s helpful to follow up with your pro to go over the findings one last time.

Make Changes and Repairs

Now the fun part (insert sarcasm here). The inspector likely noted repair and maintenance issues throughout your home. If you're selling your house, get on those as soon as possible to keep your asking price competitive. If you're buying, follow up with homeowners about the status of the needed repair. If you aren't selling anytime soon, make a list of items in order of importance, and conduct repairs accordingly. 

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