Most people will be amazed to find that there are NO federal regulations governing the home inspection industry. The State of Florida DPR does require licensing and continuing education classes but that does not guarantee knowledge and experience. So how do you make sure you’ve hired a qualified person to inspect one of the biggest investments of your life? And what is qualified?
When shopping for a home inspector, it’s vital that you do your homework and ask
- Do not price shop. When hiring a home inspector, you are hiring an advocate to protect your interests by giving their professional opinion on the home’s condition. With that in mind, making sure that you’re hiring an inspector with knowledge and training means not shopping for one by price alone. Training, certifications, and continuing education are not free to inspectors and therefore, their expertise isn’t going to be free either. On the other hand, the inspector who charges the most is not necessarily the best.
- Get a firm quote. You should be able to get a firm price quoted over the phone based on the square footage of the home for a COMPLETE inspection. Can you imagine being charged extra for your inspector to walk your roof or enter your crawl space? Yet some companies do. Also, be wary of inspectors that will not quote a price until they see the home or those who charge extra based on the age of the home. Click on the top tab "Our Inspection Services" to see our fees.
- Research their credentials. Since there are no national or state standards for Florida home inspectors, ask what associations they belong to. Some associations can be joined by simply paying a fee and are just listed to look good. Others require varying levels of testing, experience and continuing education. The professional associations, such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), require that the inspector pass a rigourous trade and ethics exam, perform at least 250 inspections and achieve a high level of proficiency in report writing. Until an inspector has met these requirements, he may only call himself "candidate" or "associate". Once all requirements have been met, he has achieved "Certified Member" status and must then obtain at least 30 hours of continuing education annually. I am a Certified Member of ASHI. Please click on the Staff Profiles tab to see a complete listing of my credentials.
- Make sure they’re insured. A professional inspector should be insured for “errors and omissions”, commonly called E&O insurance. This means that if the inspector misses something during the inspection which later causes damage to the home, or damages something in the home while performing the inspection, you are protected. If you are a realtor, make sure the inspector carries the Real Estate Agent and Broker Referral Indemnity rider which protects you if the inspector was hired based upon your recommendation.
- Make your own decision. Real estate agents and other professionals often make recommendations on which home inspector to hire. However, a recommendation does not necessarily guarantee that their choice is the best choice for you. Make your own decision based on your research.
- Ask to see a sample inspection report. After an inspection, you will receive a report on the inspector’s findings. Again, inspectors are going to vary widely. Report styles can range from handwritten, to checklist to the jargon-filled narrative. They can provide you with little or no information or give you such a technically laden, verbose report that you can't figure out what point the inspector is trying to make. Make sure the inspector indicates the exact problem, (along with a photo), recommended repairs and a general estimate of the repair cost.