Home inspectors play an important role in the home buying process, but how do you know if your inspector is qualified to do the job? According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), only some states have any type of laws to regulate home inspectors. In the 29 states with laws, they run the gamut from strict to somewhat liberal.
Inspectors Do What?
Although you probably have a general idea of what home inspectors do, you might not fully understand what all their job entails. A home inspector thoroughly examines the interior and exterior of the home. This should include the home’s overall structure like the framing and foundation, roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, ventilation, insulation and fireplaces (if applicable). A methodical inspector examines it from the roof to the foundation on the outside, then moves indoors where he starts at the top (attic) and works his way down throughout the entire house until he reaches the bottom (basement or crawlspace).
Order Inspections Earlier
Home inspections traditionally don’t happen until after you’ve made a purchase offer, but some real estate professionals and inspectors alike feel it’s wise to do it sooner. While this might not be a “secret,” research has shown that offers made after a pre-inspection have a higher success rate than offers without one. Your pre-inspection can even become a “secret” weapon you can use to win a bidding war. Since you know more about what’s wrong with the home, you can bid with more confidence. However, buying a home after a pre-inspection could cause you to have less leverage to convince the seller to repair something or drop the price, since you already knew what was wrong with the house and wanted it anyway.
Home inspectors are only obligated to inspect readily accessible areas of a home
Call a Professional
Some inspectors might like to keep it secret that they aren’t always in a good position to detect serious problems and you may need someone who specializes in certain areas. First, home inspectors are only obligated to inspect readily accessible areas of a home, so it’s up to their discretion how much digging they do. For example, if a fireplace’s chimney or flue isn’t easily accessible, they can’t determine whether it’s a fire hazard or could break away from the house. They also can’t determine how long a particular component is likely to last, such as an older air conditioning system, which may work, but they can’t tell you how adequately.
Other Secrets Revealed
Another secret some inspectors might not want you to know is they should spend at least two hours at the home you’re buying or you’re not getting your money’s worth. However, it’s no secret that any inspector who doesn’t want you present for the inspection should give you pause. You should always order an inspection and be present, even if it’s a brand-new home, which could still have numerous construction issues.
Finally, if your realtor doesn’t want you to hire an inspector known as a “deal killer,” this may be the one you want to hire. After all, if you’re buying a home with lots of problems, you want to know.