shocked home buyer

5 Things you don’t know about Hiring a Home Inspector

So your real estate agent just called and said you have an accepted offer on that new house.  Congratulations! And oh, by the way, you have 7 days to get an inspection.  Better get on the horn pronto and find a home inspector.

This is an all too familiar scenario for lots of folks.  But do you just blindly pick a inspector and hire the first guy you can to come out to the house?  Not unless you like burning money.

1.  An inspector is an inspector, right?   Not even close.  The difference in knowledge between home inspectors is staggering.  Don’t even think about hiring someone who hasn’t been inspecting for years.  The schools that “teach” home inspectors are mostly a joke, and they send new guys out with just enough information to be dangerous.   They teach to the test to keep their success rates up.  The real knowledge for home inspectors comes from experiences in construction trades and actually inspecting houses.  An inspector will start to know what he’s doing around the time he hits house #500.  The last thing you want is to be one of the houses he is learning on.

2.  Stay away from the cheap guy.   

At first it will seem like a good idea to call around , find the guy who gives you the cheapest price, and hire that inspector.  That’s not a good idea.  In fact, it’s a really bad one, for a couple of reasons.  1.  Typically, the cheap guy is the new guy (see reason #1 on why you don’t want him)  or 2.  Most cheap inspectors are volume inspectors.  They charge less, but do as many as 3-4-even 5 houses in a day.  How much time and care do you really think they’ll be spending on your new home when the clock is ticking to get to the next job?

3.  Avoid the Minimalist.

Some inspectors like to do just the basics.  They keep to the letter of the law, and do as little as possible for you.  No roof walking, getting in attics, or crawlspace crawling.  These bare minimum guys are the kind of inspectors who really do you no good at all.

4.  Be cautious of who your Realtor recommends. Better yet, find your own inspector.

Most folks are hardworking and honest people (at least I want to believe that).  You hope that your Realtor has your best interests in mind.  But remember that at the end of the day, your home purchase is a huge investment for you…and a payday for your Realtor.

Be cautious about taking a blind recommendation on an inspector from your Realtor. Do your own research.

As an inspector, I am rarely recommended by Realtors.  Why?  I am often told by agents that my reports are too picky, too “lethal”, or that I’m nothing more than a “deal-killer” (yes, that is a real term used throughout the business).  But when that Realtor is buying her own house, or is helping a family member do so, I magically get the call.

The point being that if you were buying a used car, would you take it to the salesman’s mechanic to look it over for you?  Of course not.  There is usually an inherent conflict of interest when it comes to agents who recommend a particular inspector.

5.  You should be asking questions about more than just the cost of the inspection.

There are lots of questions you can ask to weed out the bad eggs when it comes to inspectors.  Ask things such as, “How long will the inspection take?”  “How many houses do you inspect a day?”  “Will you crawl through the attic?”  “How about walking on the roof?”  “Do you actually go into the  crawlspace?”

I get 15 calls a week where the first thing that comes from the caller’s mouth is “How much?”  That is the wrong question to ask. What you really want to know is how knowledgeable and intelligent this person is, not how cheap.  Don’t fall into the price trap.  The truth is, the difference in price between the best and worst inspectors is comparable to the cost of a dinner out.

You are about to purchase a $500,000 house.  Where would you rather spend that $150 bucks?

There is a direct correlation between what an inspector will do and what he charges.  I’ve looked at thousands of homes that would have cost the buyers tens of thousands of dollars had they not hired me to actually crawl around and get dirty for them.   The big problems are almost always hidden, and your inspector must be willing to go where the others won’t in order to find them.

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  2. Can you please give us a quote on how much we are going to pay when we are going to hire a home inspector? Any response will be much appreciated.

    1. It depends on many factors. Size, age, condition, etc. The best thing you can do in making sure you don’t hire the wrong inspector is toss out that list your agent gave you and start doing your own homework.

  3. My wife and I want to buy our first home this year, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about choosing an inspector that will do more than the bare minimum. I want to know about all underlying issues and damages, so I’ll be sure to find someone that is thorough.

    1. Congrats Derek! Do your homework and it will pay off. Be sure and look at the inspectors sample report. That is another great way to weed out the bad ones. If they can’t be troubled with showing off their best work, they won’t care enough to try and do a good job for you. Good luck and let me know if I can help!

  4. Thanks for these tips on how to find a good home inspector. It would make sense to find someone who is a good price but more importantly, qualified. My husband and I are looking for a home inspector, so we’ll have to check their qualifications first.

    1. Just remember, the smartest guy around will likely be the most expensive. You get what you pay for. Good luck!

  5. It makes sense that you should look for an inspector that does more than just the basics to ensure a thorough job. My family is interested in hiring a home inspector so that we can prepare to sell our house, we want to find someone who will detect something in our home that we might not be aware of. We’ll look for an inspector that will take a look at the entire house so that we know everything is in excellent condition.

  6. My dad would like to buy a house this month, which is why he’s also thinking of hiring an Infrared house inspection service that will be able to check the property’s condition. I agree with you that contractors that seek cheaper rates will definitely provide a bad result. Well, you’re also right that the chosen inspector must be thorough in terms of inspecting the property’s attic, roof, and other crawlspaces.

  7. I had no idea that the bare minimum home inspectors are no good at all. This will be my first time having a home inspector look at my home. I’ll ask my neighbors if they know of any good inspectors.

  8. I like how you mentioned that it is important to ask questions to gather more information.

    My uncle mentioned to me last night that he is planning to sell their home and asked me if I have any idea what is the best option to do as he wants it to have a property inspection first.

    Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that he can consult a trusted home inspection service as they can answer all his questions.

  9. My impression is home inspectors are idiots and you really must do your homework when you hire. I’m just had experience on the sellers side of the story.

    Report: The carport light fixture was not functional when tested. A licensed electrical contractor should be consulted for further evaluation and repair.

    My explanation: Home inspector doesn’t know how to operate carport light fixture. This newfangled equipment comes complete with motion and light sensors, appears like it was functioning as designed.

    Everything was consult professional plumber, electrician, etc. for further evaluation.
    Don’t put dryer vent cover is broken on a home inspection report, if you do you are worthless and going for quantity not quality.

    1. Your story is not unique, I’m afraid, Brian. Most guys are in too big of a rush to take the time to work through anything that doesn’t function as they think in the first two seconds.