For most people, the purchase of a home is the largest investment they’ll ever make. Getting an independent, expert opinion on the operability of the structure and its systems is a no-brainer. But not all home inspectors have the same experience, training, or certifications – what’s more there are currently no federal regulations governing home inspectors. The New York State laws governing home inspectors became effective December 31, 2005. So how do you make sure you’ve hired the right person for the job?
When shopping for a home inspector, it’s vital that you do your homework and interview each inspector based on the checklist below.
- Do not price shop. Almost every day I pass a hand painted sign advertising "Men's and Boys' Haircuts for $5.00," although New York State licenses barbers I continue to go to the shop that charges $20.00. When hiring a home inspector, you’re basically hiring an advocate with your interests in mind to give you their expert opinion on the home’s condition. With that in mind, making sure that you’re hiring an inspector with plenty of knowledge and training means not shopping by price alone. Training, certification, and continuing education for home inspectors are expensive, therefore, their expertise isn’t going to be cheap. When it comes to home inspections – as with most things – you get what you pay for.
- Research their credentials. Since there are no national standards for home inspectors, one of the best things you can do to find out about an inspector’s qualifications is to ask what associations they belong to. Some associations require minimum training, experience, continuing education and also require the inspector pass certain exams. However, not all associations are created equal. Check out the associations’ minimum requirements. The best associations require that the inspector pass yearly exams and obtain a specific amount of continuing education credit. Also find out what level of the association the inspector occupies. Some associations have “candidate” and “associate” or other levels that basically mean that the inspector has not met the requirements to be a full member. Ask what certifications the inspector holds and then research them as well.
- Ask for references. An inspector should be happy to provide you with three references from previous clients. Call those clients and ask them about their experience with their inspections.
- Make sure they’re insured. The New York State law requires the home inspector to carry general liability insurance.
- Make your own decision. Some states, New York among others, allow real estate agents and other professionals to recommend which home inspector to hire. Besides the obvious conflict of interest issues, a recommendation does not necessarily guarantee that the inspector is the best choice. Make your own decision based on your research.