On the most recent “Home Schooled,” we discussed the most important things to ask when hiring a home inspector. As you know, having a home inspection conducted is one of the most important parts of purchasing a home. Just like hiring a realtor and/or mortgage company, asking the right questions and doing the proper research will allow you to know exactly what you are getting when hiring a home inspector and what to expect when the inspection is conducted. As such, here are some of the questions you should always ask when making this important decision.

First, what does the inspection cover? When hiring a home inspector, you always want to know how thorough the inspection will be. You want to make sure the inspector will check every available place possible during the course of the inspection to ensure the same is as comprehensive as possible. To this end, make sure you inquire if the inspector will inspect the crawl spaces and/or go on the roof if it is safe to do so.

Next, ask how long the inspector has been practicing in the field. While being a new inspector does not necessarily mean they are a bad inspector, it is preferable to have an inspector with some level of experience. You also want to ask if the inspector is experienced in residential inspections. Many inspectors only do commercial inspections on commercial properties. If you are buying a house, it goes without saying the need for a residential inspector and someone who is experienced in residential inspections is necessitated.

You also want to find out if the inspector offers any repairs or home improvements. Obviously, you do want an inspector who will point out any defects in the home and then offer to repair the same. You want somebody who exclusively does the inspection without any self-serving interest on the back end. This will ensure the integrity of the inspection as a whole.

Some practical questions to ask is how long the inspection will take and how much it will cost. Typically, for a home that is 2,000 to 2,500 square feet, the inspection will take approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours. The cost for such an inspection is usually between $530 to $600, dependent upon the scope of the inspection and whether it includes the home inspection, radon testing, and a termite inspection. Therefore, these are good approximations to be aware of when comparing prices or gauging what the cost will be.

One of the most important things to ask is what type of inspections the inspector offers. Quite simply, you want to know if the inspector is a “1 Stop Shop.” Inquire as to whether the inspector offers: (1) radon testing; (2) a wood-destroying insect inspection; (3) invasive stucco testing; (4) an underground oil tank sweep; (5) a sewer line inspection; and (6) a chimney line inspection amongst others things. As you can expect, it is much easier to have your inspector cover as much ground as possible, rather than having to subcontract various types of inspections. In the long run, this can save you a lot of time and money.

You also want to ask if the inspection is affiliated with any type of organizations and/or associations. For example, our office is part of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Being part of certain types of associations or organizations requires an inspector to “continue their education” by attending yearly courses to keep apprised of various issues in the home inspection field. As a result, ascertaining whether the home inspector is part of any associations or organizations can be very helpful.

Finally, perhaps the most important question to ask a home inspector is whether you are able to attend the inspection. Attending a home inspection when the same is conducted is very important as it will provide you with an “education” on the house you are seeking to purchase. It will allow you to see firsthand the defects in the house along with other vital information such as how your heating system works, where your shut off valves are, where your electrical panel is, and where your main water shut off valve is amongst other information. Suffice it to say, you should the home inspection if you are able to do so. Therefore, if an inspector tells you that you are not able to attend the inspection, you might want to think about moving on.

Simply put, when hiring a home inspector it is important to “Do Your Homework.” Asking about the topics listed above will ensure you are making the proper choice in choosing a home inspector and knowing what to expect when the inspection is actually conducted. This, in turn, will give you greater confidence in the purchase of your home and the maintenance of the same going forward.

Next week, please be sure to tune in to the next Tip at Ten in the next version of “Home Schooled.” Also, please continue to check this blog periodically for vital information about the home inspection process.