Anyone can call himself a home inspector. There lies a potential problem, so do your homework before hiring one.
*Ask if your prospective home inspector is properly licensed and/or registered and if there are any open claims against him. If your state does not require home inspectors to be licensed or registered, check with the state's Justice Department or the Better Business Bureau.
*Get past references and contact them.
*Read your contract carefully. Some inspectors try to add a disclaimer saying they are liable for no more than the price of the inspection.
Questions to ask home inspectors
*How long has he been in business? Home inspection is a relatively new field, and it's growing.
*Is the inspector experienced in residential construction? Some specialize in commercial construction.
*Does he carry professional liability insurance? This not only protects him it also protects you. In Oregon, for instance, home inspectors are required to put up a $2,000 surety bond. That $2,000 might not go very far if the inspection fails to uncover a major flaw.
*Will the inspector want to do repairs or improvements based on his findings? This could present a conflict of interest. An inspector's job is to find problems, not necessarily to fix them.
*What is involved in the inspection? Get the specifics.
*Will you get a written report? Get a copy of the form beforehand.
*How long will it take? The national average is two to three hours.
*What will it cost? The national average is $250 to $300.
*Does he encourage you to attend the inspection? This is a valuable opportunity to learn about the home.
*Does the inspector take continuing education classes to keep his expertise up to date?
The American Society of Home Inspectors offers a free brochure, "The Home Inspection & You," that offers guidelines for home buyers on how to find a home inspector. For a copy, send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to:
"Home Inspection & You" brochure
ASHI - Suite 360
85 Algonquin Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60005