Home inspectors offer a critical service in the process of buying a home. Choosing the right home inspector for your home inspection can be a daunting task. Most consumers are not in the market on a regular basis hiring home inspectors. According to industry statistics from the California Department of Real Estate families move on average every seven years. If you extrapolate that to hiring a home inspector every seven years it is easy to see that this is not a task performed on a regular basis. Despite the lack of regularity it is not impossible to find and hire a quality home inspector if you adhere to the guidelines discussed in this blog post.
Home Inspector Certification
Before we get into the guidelines for selecting a quality home inspector you need some industry background information. First up I would like to clarify that California has no home inspector licensing or certification. Certification for home inspectors in California is provided by industry trade associations. My personal opinion is that most industry trade associations provide a base level of competence for home inspectors and NO industry trade association is capable of certifying home inspectors to the level required to perform a high quality home inspection. Please don’t read this comment the wrong way, I am a proponent of the trade associations because they provide training to the inspectors and a community for inspectors to exchange knowledge and adhere to set of home inspection standards. Standards are important to the consumer because it provides a minimum expectation of what you should receive for your home inspection investment. Further, the trade associations provide a code of ethics which each inspector must adhere or risk being excluded from the association. One such trade association is InterNachi. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors is a leader in inspector training and education. Inspectors have access to online training that can be consumed nightly if desired which greatly enhances the skills and abilities of it home inspection membership. Training, education, and membership in a home inspection association are just some of the information you need to select a high quality home inspector.
Home Inspector Reports
Home inspection reports are the primary communication tool between the home inspector and the client. The home inspection report provides a long lasting document that can be used by the client to understand the condition of the home at the time of sale and become a reference document or working document to make improvements and track the history of your home. There are may different report styles available to home inspectors and consumers. In the opinion of this home inspector that only way to go is with a narrative home inspection report style with detailed photographs. The narrative home inspection report style uses the written word in paragraph form allowing the home inspector to discuss and communicate important details about the home inspection. You can see an example of a narrative home inspection report here.
Home Inspector Experience and Ethics
Home inspector experience and ethics are the two most critical home inspector traits that you should consider when hiring a home inspector. Unfortunately, these home inspector traits are the hardest to evaluate. When evaluating the experience factor it should be specific to home inspection. Many contractors often moonlight or transition to home inspection when business is slow but contracting is very different from home inspecting. Home inspectors follow a process when inspecting a home which ensures that they are thorough and capture the maximum amount of information for their clients. Defining and refining the home inspection process can take years to master because it involves not only inspecting but capturing information and translating that to the written report. Experienced inspectors develop expanded report writing and verbal communication skills that can aid in a clients understanding of the condition of the home inspection concerns. Ethics is as important as any other trait when evaluating home inspectors. There is no perfect method for evaluating a home inspectors ethics. The best recommendation I can offer is to obtain referrals from friends, family, an experienced and trusted Realtor, and business associates. You should also ensure that the inspector belongs to a trade association which enforces a good standards of practice and ethics policy. As a matter of course quality home inspector expand their service levels commensurate with their experience. A natural extension of the experience factor is technology and tools for home inspectors.
Home Inspector Technology and Tools
Home inspector technology falls into two distinct categories and these are communication tools and inspection tools. Communication tools are used to communicate findings. Examples of communications tools are websites, web applications, email notifications, electronic scheduling, and cell phones. A high quality inspector will have invested in technology communication tools to enhance the customer experience. Examples of inspection tools are Infrared cameras, digital cameras, report writing software, moisture meters, borescopes, ladders, ect. A high quality home inspector will invest in good technology to allow for a better client experience and maximize the amount of information provided in the home inspection report.
Selecting a home inspector for the all important task of performing a home inspection on a home that you are purchasing involves some time and effort on your part. I trust that the information I have provided you will give you some level of comfort in your decision process. While there is no “fool-proof” method for selecting a high quality home inspector these guidelines should arm you with information to help you make a better decision when selecting your home inspector.
Steve Ramos Certified Home Inspector
Steve Ramos is a Certified Home Inspector, Mold Inspector and Building Science Thermographer. He has over 10 years of home inspection field experience. Steve has a very diverse and well rounded background. His reports are detailed, accurate, and timely. Steve has been featured on over 104 episodes of HGTV’s House Detective. He offers his services in all nine Bay Area counties including: Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Novato, San Rafael, Napa, Sausalito, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Bodega Bay, and Cloverdale.
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