How to Hire a Home Inspector You Can Trust

Sharon Brandwein
Written by Sharon Brandwein
Updated July 11, 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 

When it’s finally time for a home inspection, finding an inspector is up to you. This part of the process may seem a bit daunting, but from your network of friends and family to home service sites and professional organizations, there are plenty of resources you can tap into. 

Where to Find a Home Inspector

When looking for a home inspector, the first step is to ask your inner circle of family, friends, and colleagues for recommendations. Anyone who has recently worked with a home inspector may prove to be helpful in determining which home inspectors to hire and which to avoid. If nothing else, their recommendations can help narrow down your search. 

You can also reach out to professional organizations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE). While NABIE may sound intimidating, the organization also certifies professional engineers and architects who perform home inspections. Each of these organizations has a search function on their websites to help you find home inspectors in your area. 

Characteristics of a Good Home Inspector

Buying a home is one of the most significant purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s essential to find a home inspector you can trust. As you sift through names and narrow down candidates, you may want to consider the type of qualities exemplified by a good home inspector. 

Ideally, your home inspector should be: 

  • Experienced 

  • Knowledgeable 

  • Responsive

  • Detailed 

  • An excellent communicator

Understandably, it may be hard to discern any of these characteristics from recommendations, online searches, and reviews. For that reason, you should interview potential candidates before hiring a home inspector. Interviews are still important, even if your friends and family gave glowing reports on their home inspector. 

Questions to Ask 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. 

Ask About Technology

Like everything else in the 21st century, home inspection technologies have evolved. Modern technology enables inspectors to conduct more comprehensive inspections while making them quicker, safer, and more affordable. 

While a major part of your home inspection relies on the inspector and their expertise, these experts use specialty tech items to help them make a well-informed inspection report. During your interviews with potential inspectors, you should ask them about what kind of technology they plan to use during the inspection.

Some technology that home inspectors may use include:

  • Thermal imaging

  • Moisture meters

  • Electrical circuit monitors

  • Video scopes

  • Leak detectors for pools

  • Home inspection software 

  • Drones

Ask for a Sample Report

Once your home inspection is complete, you’ll receive a written inspection report that details any issues or red flags found during the inspection. To ensure a potential inspector will produce a well-organized and thorough report, you can request a sample report.

If the potential home inspector provides a sample report that only includes a series of checked boxes, you may want to reconsider. However, if the sample report offers explanations, graphics, and useful references, that’s reassurance that they’ll provide the same kind of report for you. As you interview candidates, try to determine whether or not the home inspector is open to (and has the patience for) answering questions—however many you may have. 

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

Woman organizing clothes in her living room
Photo: Susumu Yoshioka / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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. That way, you can cover your own personal home exterior inspection checklist and ask specific questions about interior issues, as well. A thorough home inspection takes three to four hours, so be sure to block off a good amount of time.

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.  

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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