What to look for in a home inspector

When you purchase a home, it's important to know what to look for in a home inspector. Getting a home inspection is a critical step in the home buying process. A home inspector's report helps you uncover any potential issues with the property and ensures that you're making an informed decision. However, not all home inspectors are the same. Hiring a home inspector who does quality work requires careful consideration. We're going to walk you step-by-step through the process of finding and vetting a home inspector. Learn more about what a home inspection covers and why getting one is essential to the home buying process.

5 min to read

Who chooses the home inspector?

Typically, the buyer pays for the home inspection prior to purchasing the house. The buyer usually pays the inspection fee out of pocket rather than as part of the closing process.

The importance of hiring a good home inspector

According to a research study on the difference a home inspector can make for buyers on Porch.com, 86% of buyers said that their inspector identified at least one problem that should be addressed, and about 46% of buyers reported that they "used home inspection reports to negotiate a lower price on their home." A home inspection is a powerful way to get to know your new home so you can move ahead with confidence and peace of mind about such a major purchase.

Are you wondering whether it's worth it to hire a home inspector? Learn about home inspection contingencies.

How to find a home inspector

You want a home inspector with experience and a proven history of thorough and reliable work. Because every home is different, you want to make sure you find a home inspector that will suit your home's specific needs.

The following are the steps you can take to find a home inspector:

  1. Do your research

    Do a search with a national home inspection organization such as:

    Each of these organizations has a directory where you can do a local search for a certified home inspector.

    Ask for recommendations from friends and family on how to find a good home inspector. You can also check the following online communities where you can search for local recommendations from neighbors who have used home inspectors to get their feedback and candid reviews:

    • Home Advisor
    • Next Door
    • Patch
    • Thumbtack
    • Yelp
    • Consumer Checkbook is a non-profit organization that connects consumers with local service providers, has unbiased reviews and conducts undercover price research on local services.
  2. Check their credentials

    Once you've got a short list of prospective home inspectors, the next thing you want to do is verify their credentials. Understand that while credentials are important, it's essential to know the inspector's work and reputation in the area. You can verify a prospective inspector's credentials with your state and local agency that governs home inspectors. Spectora has a national directory of home inspector licensing requirements.

  3. Check reviews and testimonials for your home inspector candidates

    Do a search for online reviews and testimonials from previous clients. Ask the home inspectors you're considering hiring to provide sample inspection reports. Reviewing the sample reports will give you a clear idea of how thorough they are, their attention to detail, and the comprehensiveness of their reports.

  4. Interview prospective home inspectors

    Gauge their communication skills by engaging them in conversation. Ask them about their training, experience, certifications, how long they've been a home inspector, and if they have specialized skills in certain styles of architecture, older construction, or specific materials. Here are some more questions you might ask when you want to know how to pick a home inspector:

    • Do you have liability and errors and omissions insurance?
    • What does your inspection cover?
    • Do you allow clients to attend the inspection?
    • How long will the inspection take?
    • How soon will I receive your report?
    • Can you give me a cost estimate for the inspection and any additional fees?
    • Do you offer additional services such as follow-up consultations?

PRO TIP:

Your real estate agent may refer you to local home inspectors. Be wary of agent recommendations as they benefit from the sale, so their recommendations may pose a conflict of interests. Regardless of where your recommendations come from, it's essential to perform due diligence.

What should I look for in a home inspector?

Knowing how to find the best home inspector will help your research process. There are several factors to consider.

  • Quality of work

    This should be the first thing you consider. Request copies of other inspections the inspector has completed. These will give you an idea of how detailed their inspections are. Buying a home is often your most significant investment. A thorough home inspector could save you from investing in a money pit.

  • Experience level

    Look for a home inspector with some years of experience under their belt. An experienced home inspector is likely to have seen many different homes. They're more likely to be familiar with any issues your home might have. As a result, they will have a good idea of what to look for when performing their inspection.

  • Effective communication and professionalism

    The inspector should be able to explain complex issues and help you understand the report easily. They should have a professional demeanor, show up, and value your time.

  • Thorough, unbiased reporting

    They should deliver a comprehensive report of the home's systems including the structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other components. They should provide an objective assessment of the property's condition with no conflict of interest. Learn more about what home inspectors look for.

  • Leverage technology

    Do they use tools such as infrared thermography, (thermal imaging), or drones to photograph the roof? Do they keep up to date with the latest technology, industry trends, and best practices through additional training? If this is your first home purchase, grab our home insurance guide for first time homeowners.

When hiring a home inspector, you'll want to prioritize their experience, qualifications, and reputation in the community above all else. A well-qualified home inspector can give you valuable insights into the property's condition, which will help you make an informed decision about whether to buy the house.

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