Elite Home Inspections: Tips on Hiring a Professional Inspector

Elite home inspections are called as such because they are conducted by trained and certified inspectors, not just by your local handyman or carpenter. Their knowledge surpasses that of assessing the conditions the different parts of the home, but also extends to knowledge of certain laws and regulations pertaining to building codes. Their overall inspection will help you as a homeowner decide whether you should buy the property or not. Even though there really is no house that can be deemed perfect, any buyer would definitely want one that has the least repair needs.

If you or any of your friends are in the process of buying a house, you may want to make use of the following tips when looking for a certified inspector.

Experience

No one becomes an expert on elite home inspections overnight. It takes years of experience and highly specialized training. Therefore, the first thing you should check is the how many years the inspector has been inspecting homes. The inspector assigned to your property should have experience with your type of home. Are you buying a single family residence or is it a condominium? Perhaps you are looking at a mobile home or manufactured property. Ask the inspector to provide you with a sample report of the same type of home that they have inspected in the past.

Certifications, Credentials, and Licenses

When speaking with a home inspection company, always ask for copies of their certifications and licenses. Anyone can claim that they are a certified inspector, but if there are no documents to back that up, then be wary. You can also check if they belong to a local home inspection association. These associations require inspectors to maintain a working knowledge of the latest building code. By testing their members regularly on industry standards homeowners are more likely to receive an inspector who knows what they are talking about and what to look for when inspecting properties of all types.

Sample of Report and Inspection Checklist

The reports made after elite home inspections often consist of 40 or more pages. This is because inspectors make sure that every detail is recorded for the future homeowner’s benefit. If the sample given to you has less than ten pages in it, then consider that as a red flag. Chances are, their inspectors do their jobs in a hurry and are not very detailed in their observations. To probe further, ask for a copy of the inspection checklist. It should include structural and mechanical components of the home. The plumbing system and electrical wirings should be there. Make sure they will be providing a mold inspection and termite inspection as part of their elite home inspection services.

Length of Inspection

When the inspector comes to your home, ask how long it would take him to do the job. This will vary depending on the size of the home, but it should at least take about three to four hours. If the inspector is done after an hour then you should be concerned because he may have done it in haste and has likely overlooked some defects. We have even heard of some companies doing “drive-by” inspections. Ideally you will want to be present at the inspection to avoid this scenario.

Communication

During the hiring process, select an inspector that communicates well. After all you are going to have many questions so you will want someone who responds professionally and knows how to articulate your homes issues. If it takes them several days to answer a simple query, then they may be as slow in providing you with the results later on or with accommodating your complaints, if you ever have one. Efficient property inspectors can often provide a report the day of the inspection.

Warranty

Finally, a good home inspection service must offer a warranty to the client. This warranty can be valid for 30, 60, or 90 days and, obviously, the lengthier the better. This will ensure that the inspector did his job seriously or he will be liable for any repairs that will transpire due to damages that he failed to report. These inspectors usually have an error and omission insurance that will cover this, although some will ask the client to sign a waiver to limit their liability. For your protection and to ensure that you are getting good value for the service that you hired, go with the inspection company that offers the best warranty.

Use these tips when you are looking for companies that will provide elite home inspections for you or for the people you know. This guide is a surefire way to ensure that you get the best professional out there.

Home Inspection Misconceptions

What To Expect: Home buyers sometimes buy their home in on impulse. Home inspectors can help home buyers avoid buyers remorse by reporting on home defects and problems before the home buyer finds them after closing. Professional home inspectors assist home buying clients with the tools they need to make an educated choice regarding the quality and condition of their potential new home. Home buyers must take care to hire the most experienced home inspector they can afford and make sure the person they hire has their best interest solely in mind. Inspectors who rely on realtors for referrals sometimes have moral dilemmas.

Buyers Benefits: A professional home inspection is the best way for potential home buyers to effectively evaluate the risks of a property purchase. A major concern of home buyers is being suddenly confronted with major and costly problems after they take possession of a property. A professional pre-purchase home inspection can reduce anxiety by screening for problems and itemizing them in a comprehensive report. This report may include approximations of repair costs and recommendations of useful upgrades to the property systems. The general result of a professional home inspection is that property buyers make significantly more informed purchases.

Screening for Problems: All homes have strong and weak points, they are not always what they seem. Gain the perspective and sound information you need to make better decisions with a home inspection performed by an experienced professional home inspector. A good home inspector works through a very long checklist of potential concerns to identify the major and minor deficiencies in the home. A good report will clearly describe the problems and illustrate them along with the what-to and how-to of repairs.

Provide Owners Benefits: Home owners who are planning to make improvements to their homes in order to increase its market value would be well advised to have it inspected first. A home inspectors can help prioritize home improvements and offer advice on the best ways to approach repairs. More importantly, an inspectors can help the seller identify potential or undiscovered problems before those problems become material for contract contingencies. By taking a pro-active approach one can avoid the frustrations many owners encounter when they are asked to renegotiate their contracts because of unanticipated problem areas.

Credentials: Like any other professional, home inspectors (even those with licenses) have varied degrees of expertise. All home inspectors should be carefully screened. Inspectors learn from experience. It takes a few thousand inspections and a more than a few complaints for a home inspectors to LEARN what it takes to satisfy clients.

Recently passed legislation allows New Jersey home inspectors to be licensed with as little as three weeks of class room training and just one week in actual homes. Licensing is a minimum qualification. Make sure you ask for resume! Belive it or not the standards in many states are LOWER!

Many people without specific home inspection credentials offer home inspection services. Likewise, credentials are not always what they seem. Engineering and architectural credentials alone do not prepare anyone to competently inspect homes and communicate the findings. A helping attitude, good communication skills, and mature judgment must supplement technical competence. Make sure you work with a company employing a contract which specifies both what is inspected and what limitations apply.

Additional services like the ones listed below are usually NOT included in the standard home inspection are available for an additional fee.

Code compliance: to determine what changes and upgrades are necessary for the home to comply with modern (or when built) building, fire, plumbing, zoning, mechanical and electrical code and to determine if the required permits and inspection were obtained when changes were made to the home.

Engineering analysis: structural, heating, cooling, soils, electrical, geological, site, investigate for latent structural defects or problems, evaluate the condition of playground equipment, determine if private waste disposal systems are functional, determine if cantilevers are safe, evaluate traffic density and noise, evaluate insulation efficiency, perform flood plain review and issue flood hazard certification, evaluate easements and encroachments, determine the quantity and cost of wood replacement made necessary by rot, age, water infiltration and insect damage.

Hazardous materials: to determine the presence or absence of: asbestos, lead paint, lead in water, formaldehyde, radon gas, lead paint, fungus, mold, mildew, water and air quality, toxic or allergenic substances, flammable materials, underground oil or fuel tanks and other environmental hazards.

Pest evaluation: to determine the presence of animal, rodent, termite, pest or insect infestation and to provide an opinion as to the cost of repairing damage caused from these infestations.

Pool and spa: to evaluate the necessary changes and upgrades to pools, pool equipment, gates and fences.

Plumbing: to determine the condition and necessary upgrades and repairs to the waste piping, main sewer pipe, supply piping, venting, shower pans and tub walls, lawn and fire sprinklers, water wells (water quality and quantity) condition of underground and under slab piping.

Electrical: to determine the condition and necessary upgrades and repairs to the electrical system, telephone system wiring, intercom system, security systems, heat detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, provide circuit mapping, determine the electrical system capacity, adequacy of ground bonding, perform voltage testing, to evaluate electro magnetic fields, check voltage drops and circuit impedance.

Chimney sweep: check condition of flue, safety of wood burning stoves and perform level II chimney flue inspections as recommended by National Fire Protection Association.

Appraisal: determine the value of building and suitability for intended use, check zoning ordinances and provide an opinion on the advisability of purchase.

Mechanical contractor: determine the adequacy of the heating and cooling system size and provide efficiency measurement, provide an underground storage tank evaluation, perform heat exchanger leakage test, check the condition of evaporator coils, determine air flow velocity and balance system.

Appliance service person: test and calibrate oven and range temperature, test for microwave leakage, check to determine if appliances secured to floor as required.

Roofing contractor: more detailed evaluation of the roofing, flashing, chimney, provide tall ladder roof inspection and a detailed evaluation of the life expectancy of the roofing, feasibility of repair vs. replacement.

Home buyers are advised to make sure they check all of the following items carefully. If any of these problems after the purchase of the home the problems come with the home and they are now the YOURS (without costly litigation).

GENERAL

Were all your questions answered by the home inspector?

Were all your questions for the home owner answered in writing?

Have the previously agreed to repairs been professionally completed?

Have warranties and guarantees been provided for agreed upon repairs?

Were the home inspectors recommendations to have all recommended additional inspections and invasive inspections performed? If not open ended risks may be more than most buyers budgets can bare?

EXTERIOR

Check the operation of the windows and screens?

Has water been stopped from accumulating near the building?

Check doors, decks, siding, windows & fences for damage / deterioration?

Are there any signs of water infiltration from the roof, siding or windows?

Are there any signs of gutter or downspout problems?
Are the downspouts discharging water away from the foundation?

Has the soil around the home been pitched away from the foundation?

INTERIOR

Have all the areas listed in the home inspection report as inaccessible or not traversed been accessed & professionally inspected to determine if defects exist?

Do the garage doors and their openers function?

Was the reversing devices for the garage door openers tested?

Did you find out why any stains or cracks on any of the walls or ceilings that have become larger or have appeared since the time of the home inspection?

Have all cracked windows or mirrors been repaired?

Have all the clouded double pane windows been replaced?

Are all the permanently installed fixtures or appliances been in place and in good condition?

Are there any signs of birds, rodents or animals?
Has any damage to damage to the walls, floor or ceilings been repaired?

PLUMBING

Do the plumbing fixture faucets leak or drip?

Are the plumbing fixtures chipped or damaged?

Was water for a time through all plumbing fixtures and check for leakage?

Was water for a time through all plumbing fixtures and check for stoppage?

ELECTRICAL

Are all the light fixtures are all in place?

Do the light fixtures, switches and receptacles all function?

Does the door bell work?

HEATING AND COOLING

Do the thermostat, heating and cooling systems function?

Is there adequate air flow through the heating and cooling registers?

Did all the radiators or convectors get warm in a reasonable amount of time?

KITCHEN

Do all the appliances function properly?

Are the counter tops or cabinets damaged?

Do the cabinets and drawers operate?

Complete this check list during the walk through and go over it with your attorney prior to closing on the property Most inspection companies accept no liability for changes and problems that occur after the home inspection takes place. Please take the time to carefully and completely perform your pre-settlement walk though. Contact the home inspection company if there are any questions.

Michael Del Greco is President of Accurate Inspections, Inc. A New Jersey home inspection firm, has performed thousands of home inspections in New Jersey since 1993, taught the New Jersey Home Inspector Licensing classes and New Jersey Home Inspector CEU classes as well as participated in developing questions for the National Home Inspector Exam. The home inspector’s resume may be viewed at

What Makes a Good Home Inspection Report…Good?

Ask a dozen Home Inspectors, or make it a bakers dozen if you will, what it is that makes a Home Inspection report a GOOD Home Inspection report, and you are just liable to get 12 or, make it 13, different answers. Well, maybe there wouldn’t be that much disparity in response, but you get the general idea…there almost certainly wouldn’t be any unanimous consensus. Because individual Home Inspection reports, just as with individual Home Inspectors, simply aren’t created equally…one report absolutely is not (allow me to be repetitive here for emphasis)…is not just like the next…neither in content or in quality.

There are many differing opinions as to what constitutes a good Home Inspection report and this is evidenced by the large number of report formats and the myriad of various software programs that are used to create reports. Having been in the Home Inspection industry for more than 15 years, I was creating written (gulp…yes, hand-written) reports using carbon copy report forms, in triplicate (three copies…press hard, please) back when there weren’t any computers involved in the process. In fact, I had to be drug, not quite actually by my hair, and not quite literally…but almost…kicking and screaming, into what I’ll refer to as the modern computer age. In retrospect, it was a definitive change for the better (in most ways, anyway…I have yet to have my wrist “crash”…but I digress). As the owner of a Raleigh Home Inspection firm, I have my own professional opinion as to what goes into the production of a good Home Inspection, and as to what a good Home Inspection report should be.

There is differing opinion amongst professional Home Inspectors as to whether a checklist style of report should be used…or whether a narrative style report should be used. In the former, issues or problems (I have never have liked referring to issues as problems, even though an issue may very well be, and likely is, a problem for someone…) are conveyed to the reader using boxes that are checked off. In the latter, issues are presented using narrative, wherein each problem is identified by writing out those issues. In reality, most reports are a combination of the two. The combination style of report is the one that I prefer and recommend to other Home Inspectors; descriptive commentary e.g. materials or types of components, can be conveyed using a check box with the real issues conveyed using narrative.

So, what are the…ingredients…necessary to create and provide a good Home Inspection report?

To preface any discussion regarding this subject topic, and from a clients perspective (who is likely relying on the contents of the report to make a well-informed real estate purchasing decision), it is important that the Inspector be experienced, knowledgeable about most all related issues that might be encountered, and be entirely professional toward both the Home Inspection process as a whole and toward the client/buyer specifically. This must be, in my opinion, accepted as a given and be considered a baseline requirement. The overall philosophy of the Inspector should be to provide their client with not only a good inspection experience, but an excellent inspection experience. Of course, it should be herein acknowledged that if the home has a really large number of serious issues, then the experience may not seem like such a good one to the client at the time…but that’s likely (or should be) the fault of the condition of the home itself rather than the fault of the Inspector. In the event of a less than stellar report resulting from an Inspection of a particular home, the client is able to revel in the fact that their professional Home Inspector, and their most excellent and professionally produced Home Inspection report precluded their buying the proverbial Money Pit and their having any number of unexpected or unanticipated expenses associated with their home purchase.

Obviously, any report absolutely must provide the client value…with, at the very least, a good representation of the condition of the property. If a report doesn’t do that, then the report is likely not worth anything…it would be worthless even if it were free.

Among other things, a Good Home Inspection Report should:

  • Be well organized and well presented; the report should layout and presentation should be logical…it should be organized so as to provide a sort of road map, if you will, around and through the home
  • Be well written…and be readily understandable by anyone irregardless of whether or not they have ever been to the physical property and irrespective of their technical background. The report should, to every extent possible, be devoid of technical nomenclature that requires yet more explanation to be understood; it should be concise and clear. A report that has to be interpreted is of little overall value
  • Provide enough detail, description and direction to provide not only the client, but anyone involved in the transaction e.g. real estate agents, attorneys, mortgage lenders, etc., with a clear representation of the physical condition of the property
  • Contain enough, but not an excessive number, of digital photographs relating directly to significant or serious issues. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words…this is true of a home inspection report. Photographs make it immeasurably easier to identify and understand any particular issue. On the other hand, a report loaded with photographs that lend no additional value to a report and are provided as filler content, or to provide a CYB (Cover Your Buttocks..) function for the Inspector, are best left out of a report
  • Be presented using plain, but grammatically correct language. There is no place in a professional Home Inspection report for misspelled words, fragmented sentences, and general misuse of the English language (or whatever language is appropriate). A report filled with these types of deficiencies is, and again in my opinion, directly indicative of the professionalism of the Inspector
  • Be presented in a straight-forward manner…if there are reportable issues present, then they should be presented in such a way as to leave no doubt that they are, indeed, issues. There should be no Soft-Shoeing…no Song and Dance…no Weasel-wording…just straight talk, accurate description, and effective commentary. Further, there should be some commentary provided to explain why an issue is an issue, and how to go about correcting that issue or otherwise obtaining other professional opinion regarding its correction
  • Contain a well-designed Summary Section…a section of the report where all significant, and potentially significant, issues are clearly identified. General information, suggestion regarding routine maintenance, or recommendations regarding the upgrade of the property should not be included in the Summary section of the report. That type of information should most certainly be provided in the report for the benefit of the client…just not in the Summary section of the report

A client in search of a professional Home Inspection should inquire of any potential candidate Inspector as to what type of report they produce…nor should they be at all shy or hesitant about asking that the considered Inspector to provide a sample of their inspection report. That way, a client will have a very good representative idea of what they can expect from the Home Inspector. The nursery rhyme that goes…Patty Cake…Patty Cake, Bakers Man…Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can…may have been good for Mother Goose; but when it comes to a Home Inspection and the resulting report, you may or may not want to get it just as fast as you can… but you certainly, absolutely, and most unequivocally want it to be just as GOOD as you can get it!

If a Home Inspection report incorporates all of the previously identified components, then it is highly predictable that the result will be a Good inspection report…and maybe even an Excellent inspection report. Isn’t that what a consumer should be searching for…and be entitled to receive I might add, in exchange for their hard-earned dollars… a most Excellent Home Inspection report?

Quality Home Inspection: Does It Matter? What Should It Cost?

When you need a home inspection, you want to make sure you get a good one. First, you need to know what a good home inspection is. Then you need to know how to find a home inspector who can, and will, give you the home inspection that serves you well. And last, you want to know how much you should pay for this quality home inspection by a good home inspector.

What Is a Home Inspection?

Let’s start with what a home inspection is – and isn’t. A home inspection is a professional and objective evaluation of the current condition of a house. It is not the same as an appraisal which attempts to place a value on a house and which may be required by a lending institution. Nor is it the same as a building code compliance inspection which may be required by local building regulations.

Who Needs a Home Inspection?

Home inspections are typically part of the home buying process, most often performed at the request of the buyer. It can protect the buyer from unseen issues and may sometimes even be required by the buyer’s bank to protect it from risky investments. In the event problems are found, a seller may be asked to effect repairs, to pay for the repairs or to renegotiate the sale price.

Sometimes the service is requested by a home seller so that problems with a house may be addressed prior to putting it on the market.

Homeowners not involved with a real estate transaction often have an inspection just as a way of learning more about their house. Home inspection, in this case, can be a valuable tool for helping to plan and budget maintenance, repairs or renovations.

What Makes a Good Home Inspector?

Not all states license home inspectors. The ones that do, generally follow guidelines enacted by the four main home inspection organizations: the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE). If your state does not currently license home inspectors, membership by your home inspector in one of these organizations is regarded as a trusted alternative.

The best home inspector is likely to have acquired considerable knowledge of common home repairs and of their costs. He may have great value for his clients as a source of general information – as one who can help them make sense of conditions the inspection has unearthed. However, objectivity demands that he not be an agent for repair contractors who might be trying to sell services.

The most valuable thing about a professional home inspection is that it is knowledgeable and unbiased.

What Is Included in a Good Home Inspection?

A quality home inspection performed according to industry accepted standards is non-invasive. An inspector will not drill holes or remove wall surfaces. He will view accessible areas of the house and will inspect:

Roof

general shingle condition, flashings, gutters and downspouts, and the general structure of the roof that can be readily accessed for viewing

Exterior

defects in siding, flashings, brick, or other wall coverings; doors and windows for fit, locks, etc.; porches and steps for proper rails and general conditions including rot; general vegetation and surface drainage as it may affect the structure of the house

Foundation

signs of shifting – cracks, out of square door frames, etc.; signs of water penetration; improperly cut or notched framing members

Heating and Cooling

type, age, energy rating if applicable, and testing for normal operation

Plumbing

determine type of supply, i. e., public or private; look for poor water pressure; look for poor drainage from sinks, tubs, etc.; inspect supplies – faucets and other fixtures; inspect toilets; inspect water heating equipment, including its type, capacity, venting

Electrical

inspection of the service drop, meter enclosure, disconnects and service panel – breakers or fuse box, verify GFCIs, smoke detectors and test representative number of switches, fixtures and outlets

Attic, Ventilation and Insulation

inspect insulation in unfinished, i.e., accessible, areas; inspect ventilation of attics and mechanical ventilation

Interior

inspect for loose plaster, drywall, moldings; inspect stairs and railings; test a representative number of doors and windows

Miscellaneous

garage, garage door operation, cracks in floor, viewable structure; inspect general conditions of driveway

How Much Should It Cost and Is It Worth It?

Given the value added by the reliability and certainty of a professional quality home inspection, its cost is well worth it and a minor part of the overall cost of a real estate transaction. The cost of no knowing can be considerable – you just never know.

A home inspector will have looked at hundreds of items. The inspection report will identify problems with the home. It will describe the findings in clear and easy to understand language, often accompanied by photographs. The home inspector may visit the home with the client to point out the various findings in person.

The cost of a professional quality home inspection is usually in a range between $250-$500, and varies according to the size and the age of the house. Some inspectors offer special deals at a lower cost but it is important for the prospective client to determine if the special deal follows all industry accepted standards.

Many home inspectors also offer ancillary services that are not considered to be a part of the standard inspection. These can relate to the client’s specific concerns about ensuring a safe and healthy environment for themselves and their families. These ancillary services may include tests for radon, asbestos, mold, lead and water or air quality. Another useful form of testing is thermal imaging which evaluates heat loss from the house and aids the client in minimizing heating bills. Consultation with the home inspector can help determine if these additional tests should be included.

A quality home inspection can mean great value to the client – depending on the need.

  • If you are a seller, an inspection can help you market your house more effectively. You may be able to make some minor repairs which will pay off in getting a better price.
  • If you are a buyer, an inspection may warn you of unnoticed and potentially costly repairs which will be needed for the house. They may be deal breakers. And if not, then having the inspector’s evaluation can help you get the very best deal.
  • If you’re a homeowner — neither buying nor selling at the present time, an inspection can simply help you to be sure that your home is a safe and healthy environment for you and your family. It can aid you in planning smart maintenance and repairs, renovations or refinancing.

In all cases, a quality home inspection provides way more value than cost because it can be that difference that helps you become a smarter homeowner, buyer or seller.

Tips for Choosing A Perfect Home Inspection Company

Purchasing a new home is a big investment. Before investing your hard earned money in buying a house that you have dreamt of, it is important that you check every aspect of it. One of the most significant aspects is getting the entire home inspected before you sign any contract in the process of buying a house.

The industry of home inspection is full of competent home inspectors. There are dozens of home inspection companies that offer reliable home examination services to their clients. But along with the availability of professional home inspectors, the home inspection industry is also plagued with fraud companies who call themselves competent home inspectors. So, it is a must to screen and qualify a company before hiring their inspection services.

There are a number of things that you must keep in mind while selecting a good home examiner for inspecting your new house. Some of them have been mentioned below:

Experience– You must consider hiring the services of a professional who performs at least 300 inspections per year. House inspectors having more years of experience are most desirable for the job of home inspection.

Knowledge– The home inspection company you choose must be knowledgeable enough to understand every system in a home. Professionals having a relevant degree in the field of engineering or architecture are considered best for the work of home assessment. Professionals dealing in general construction are also considered ideal for the role of house inspectors.

Reputation– When you are dealing with a professional company, it is important to note the reputation of both the company and the inspector who will be performing the work of inspection for your house. You must always request your hired company to send you a trained and reputed inspector for inspecting your home.

Getting relevant reports– Ensure that your hired house inspection company provides you a report that covers all the aspects of scrutiny. The inspection of your new house must include a signed report that describes what inspection was carried and also it will include the conditions of the inspected items. There are a number of home assessors who provide a checklist of items that they inspect. On the other hand, there are professionals who provide a written description of all the items that are inspected.

The cost of the inspection – Before you hire the services of a professional home examination company, you must also ask them to give you an estimate of the total cost associated with the inspection of the house. Once you get an estimate, you can compare it with other companies before hiring any particular company.

You must consider all the above points because at the end, it is the knowledge and experience of the home examiner that matters a lot in the work of home inspection.