You hire a home inspector to take a good look at the home you are potentially buying, so shouldn’t you be asking THEM a few questions also?
Good home inspectors are an invaluable asset to a prospective home buyer, so make sure you ask them these 7 questions before you set an appointment, and see how they measure up.
Questions to ask a home inspector
Just like hiring any other contractor, it comes down to making the right choice. Don’t just assume that the inspector your Realtor recommends is the best – make sure you also feel comfortable in your decision. After all, it’s you who will be paying for the inspection and carrying the burden of any repairs in years to come.
1. “What exactly do you check?”
While it may seem simple, a lot of homeowners simply neglect to answer this question as they assume the inspector will look at everything. But this often isn’t the case, especially when it comes to external structures and systems. Make sure you thoroughly review all the features of the home with the inspector before hiring them, to make sure they have you covered.
Going into the inspection with a strong understanding of what the inspector can and can’t do will ensure that you walk away from the inspection happy.
2. “What specifically don’t you check?”
Obviously there are limits, both for safety and liability reasons. For instance, some managed communities will not allow a home inspector to access the roof of any homes (ask about drone inspections!), and inspector is limited to what they can visually inspect – they can’t start cutting holes in a seller’s wall because they suspect an interior issue.
What you’ll often see is that your inspector will flag certain items for more detailed followup and investigation with the homeowner’s permission.
3. “How much do you charge for an inspection?”
Home inspections usually run about $250-$600, though pricing depends on a lot of factors such as the area, the size of the home, any external or extra structures and also the experience level of the inspector. In most cases you will pay for your inspection when ordering of before delivery of your report, so will know upfront what the exact cost will be.
And remember the cheapest home inspection is normally not always your best option. If you’re spending $400,000 on a home, isn’t it worth paying a little extra to get a thorough inspection from a well-qualified and experienced inspector? Also, with the more expensive inspections you will often get added bonuses like wood destroying insect inspections, appliance recall checks and even our own Repair Estimates included as standard.
4. “How many homes have you inspected to date?”
A lot of people make the mistake of asking “How long have you been a home inspector?”. But rather than longevity, it may be even more important to ask about actual experience and qualification. A lot of inspectors work part-time, so you may find that a full-time inspector who has only been in the business 3-5 years has way more experience and know how than a 10+ year “veteran”.
5. “Should I be there during the inspection?”
A lot of agents and buyers will want to be present during the entire inspection, but I personally advise againts it. I believe it leads to items being missed or rushed through, and actually makes the entire process longer and more difficult. Think about it like this – if you were hiring a surgeon to perform an operation on you, would you want to be awake and interrupting them during their work? Probably not.
What we advise is showing up during the last 30-60 minutes so you can review any potential items with the inspector in person. Also, having a professional explain any of the house’s systems that you are not familiar with can be very useful in the long run.
6. “How long should this home inspection take?”
This is kind of a loaded question as home inspectors don’t want to spend all day at a house and upset the sellers, but they also have a duty to their clients to inspect the home as thoroughly as possible. Basically, use common sense – if an inspector tells you a whole day for a one bedroom condo, or an hour for a 3000 sq/ft historic mansion, that’s going to be a red flag.
Linking back to question 4, a better question might be “How long did the last home like this you inspected take?”
7. “Can I see a sample report?”
This is a MUST! Here at Repair Pricer we take thousands of inspection reports a month and turn them into highly accurate repair estimates, and it’s amazing the difference we see between inspectors. Here are our TOP items we look for when deciding whether or not a home inspector can join our preferred partner program:
- Is the report prepared using modern software (we like HomeGauge, Spectora and Inspector Pro, but there are other good ones out there.)
- Are there a LOT of photos?
- Are the photos tagged next to the deficient items, or just dumped together at the end of the report
- When an inspector found a deficient item, did they keep inspecting all other similar items in the home or just not that system as deficient?
- Did they access the roof either manually or via drone?
- Are they using modern technology like moisture meters and infrared cameras?
We’re not saying that an inspector with all the right toys and gadgets does the best job, but from our experience those home inspectors who are willing to invest heavily in continuing improvements to their services are normally the most dedicated and professional.
Either way, it can be really useful to see a previous inspection report, especially if you are a first time home buyer. A lot of people get overwhelmed when they see an inspection report and think the house is falling down, but it’s often not the case. Your inspector’s job is to give you the worst case scenario and let you make an informed decision, and unless that house is brand new, it’s going to have certain “defects” the inspector is obligated to note.
And remember, when your inspection is finished and you’re ready to turn your home inspection into a repair estimate, just come back and visit us – it takes just seconds