With the increase in online schools and lack of regulations we are seeing an increase in the number of new Home Inspectors entering (and leaving) our market. With so many choices out there you might be asking yourself: "How do I find the best Home Inspector?" I will give you a few tips on what to look for and how to choose the right Inspector for you.
"How much?" is usually the first question I get asked, but you should be asking about the Inspectors experience and qualifications. Because no two homes are the same, Home Inspections are priced according to different factors that I go over in a previous post. As I mentioned earlier, there isn't much regulation for Home Inspectors in our area. Currently Iowa doesn't require any licensing or certification. Illinois requires licensing, but the qualifications are minimal. They require Home Inspectors to pass a basic knowledge exam, pay yearly licensing fees, and take 6 hours of continuing education each year, but they do not require any industry-specific experience. Therefore, as you can see, an Inspectors experience is the most relevant qualification you should be looking for.
Home Inspectors come from many different backgrounds. You may be surprised to read that many don't have any relevant home construction experience or might only have experience in one specific trade (electrician, HVAC, sales, assembly, etc.) Look for someone who has had a previous career that requires knowledge in all areas of home construction, such as a General Contractor, Home Remodeler/Renovator, Construction Project Manager, or Structural Engineer. You should also look for an Inspector that has experience actually inspecting properties. Find an Inspector with at least three years in business working as a Home Inspector. Hands-on experience is going to be more valuable to you than any other qualification. An experienced Home Inspector will obviously have more knowledge from their years of education and experience, but will also have a better understanding of your home as a system and will be better able to communicate to you what is important.
Our occupation is a bit different than most in that Home Inspectors are usually hired without ever actually meeting their clients first. Don't be afraid to interview a potential Inspector and ask questions rather than just shopping for the cheapest price. Request a video call or meet in-person if you prefer. Most of us aren't old curmudgeons and would be happy to oblige. We do this job because we enjoy helping people. Ask "Why should I hire you?", "What is your background/experience?", "What is included with your standard Inspection?", "How long will my inspection take?" "Can I see a sample report?", "May I accompany you during the Inspection?", "Are kids welcome?", or anything else that is important to you.
Referrals are a good place to start when looking for a Home Inspector. Your Realtor might have a list of Inspectors they have worked with, or family, friends, and co-workers can be a good source. Remember to "trust, but verify". Do an online search and read the reviews. Most Realtors have your best interest in mind, but there are some who prefer easy or sometimes referred to as "soft" or"patty-cake" Inspectors , who may overlook some things they deem "minor" to facilitate an easy sale. Remember it is ultimately up to you to decide what is important to you when purchasing a home. Every homeowner has different skills, experiences, and qualifications when it comes to maintaining a home and what is "Minor" to one person could be "Major" to another. Look for an Inspector that will give you as much information as you need to make an informed decision when buying or selling your home. You also want an Inspector who can communicate that information to you in a way that is easy to understand and present it to you in a report that is easy to navigate and comprehend.
I hope this information helps to relieve a bit of the stress that comes with buying or selling a home and choosing a Home Inspector.
Contact me any time with any home-related questions even if you don't hire me as your Inspector.
Certified Master Inspector
Hi, I'm Joe Brems, your Quad Cities Home Expert. I will be posting helpful information, maintenance tips, and DIY instruction for homeowners and home buyers. Feel free to contact me anytime with home related questions or any topics you want me to cover here. I hope you find this helpful.