Tips for Choosing a Qualified Home Inspector

Whether you're buying or selling a home, it's important to protect your investment. A home inspection provides you with pertinent information about the foundation, exterior and interior walls, roof, masonry, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. All of these systems are critical to your health and safety, and problems can be costly to fix. Hiring the best home inspector helps you avoid unpleasant surprises when buying a home. Here are five tips on how to choose a qualified home inspector. 

1. Consider a Civil Engineer

Some people call themselves inspectors, but they might not have any education or credentials to back their claims. Consider choosing a certified and licensed civil engineer who specializes in residential structures. Many cities and states specifically license engineers to do such inspections. It's particularly wise to choose an engineer if you're buying a home that's several decades old. This is because foundations settle, bow or crack over time. 

2. Make Sure They Only Perform Inspections

Verify that the inspector you choose only performs inspections. If the inspector also offers repairs, steer clear. They could try to tell you that there's a problem, and by the way, they can also fix it for you. The home inspector should be an impartial party. Their purpose should only be to inform you, not to change your mind or try to sell you a repair service.

3. Verify Licensing, Bonding and Insurance

A home inspector should offer an insurance policy for errors and omissions. This means that if they fail to indicate a problem in the report, and you find out after the fact that there was a problem that should have been obvious to the inspector, they would have to pay you a specific sum of money. The inspector should also carry personal liability and injury insurance. If they go through a crawl space or attic and get hurt, you don't want to be sued or have them file a lien against the homeowner for their medical expenses.

4. Get References

Word-of-mouth recommendations and references are a good way to find a reliable home inspector. If your nearby friends, neighbors or coworkers recently bought or sold a home, ask who did their inspection. Find out how satisfied they were with the results. Inquire about what the inspection included and if they received a video and written report of the results. If nobody you know has bought or sold a home in the past year, online reviews may be helpful, but take them with a grain of salt. 

5. Get a List of What Is Included

Before hiring an inspector, find out what their inspection includes. At a minimum, a home inspection should include the foundation or slab, exterior walls, roof and gutters and any masonry such as a chimney or flue. It should also include the home's electrical, heating and air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing and other mechanical systems. Environmental and pest issues should also be part of the inspection.


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