When you are seeking the service of a Professional Home Inspector to professionally inspect the home you are planning to purchase or sell for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, you should be asking the following questions before you commit to hiring them.
1. Will the inspector who will be performing the home inspection, have a "Home Inspection Certification" from an organization listed in the Home Inspection Industry in the US?
2. Will I be receiving a copy of his or her certification before the home inspection? (get some ID on the Inspector to verify the copy of certification if it is presented to you)
3. How long have they been certified as a home inspector?
4. Does the Home Inspector have a background of education or work experience associated in the Home Design or Home Construction Industry? Can they supply the names of the company(s) he or she was employed. (this is an easy one for them to "finagle" but you've got them on the edge already)
5. Is the Home Inspection Company insured? Will I be receiving a copy of the insurance bond before the home inspection?
6. How much will it cost for the Home Inspection?
7. When will I receive the Home Inspection Report?
8. Will there be any other charges for other services needed other than the home inspection? (Radon Measurement, Insect Inspection, Septic Inspection, Lead Inspection, are not a part of a home inspection service)
9. How much will it cost for the complete inspection services required to complete your real estate transaction?
10. How long will it take for the Home Inspector to complete the home inspection?
Don't worry about the licensing issue, because although a Company is licensed in Home Inspection, many of the home inspectors work without any formal certification, knowledge or real experience, because they work under the "umbrella" of the one person in the company who has the license in his or her name. Believe me, I've witnessed it. This is where some of the unprofessional inspections reside. And this format is common in many disciplines, they call it "apprentices". While the Apprentice does all of the work alone, the license holder never shows up to review the work performed or stops in for a second or two and OK's the work. Let's move on...
OK...item number ten should now tell you the real story. If you find the answer to be less than 2 hours, you are not going to receive a professional home inspection. An inspection that will only take 45 minutes to an hour, will be an individual who will quickly walk through the home no different than the walk through a Buyer would perform, and then check off the categories such as double hung windows, wooden doors, 3 prong receptacles, etc. But they never inspected the items. That's why it takes them less time. In order to thoroughly check each and every system and component, the time adds up and it's over 2 hours for the single family home. Even more time added for the additional dwelling units (apartments).
Yes, you've heard the term "systems and components of a home" over and over. A system would be the complete heating system. A component would be "the Circulator Pump" which is one part of the heating system. In the professional environment, it gets very detailed.
The professional home inspection will review most of the aspects of the property that surrounds the home. Including a garage or carport, a fence, a retaining wall, walkways, driveways, the trees and shrubs. There's many items outside the home that usually takes well over 30 minutes to inspect and that's not considering a discussion of any kind with the client. But what you don't know is that the home itself has more items, we call systems and components, to inspect than the property items. Add them all up and your at or above 2.5 hours for a single family home.
Lets just take a look at the fewer items to inspect outside the home and see if you would believe my claim of 30 minutes or more to perform. And lets not forget those issues and details that have to be written into the home inspection report.
Without getting into the a garage or carport which is another category and is an item considered in the exterior of the home and property. You can clearly see that 30 minutes would not be enough time before you could enter the home to finish the remaining categories. So let me finalize the Garage or Carport to complete the outside picture.
The Garage or Carport – Attached or detached, the fire wall if the garage is attached to the home, the roof and its flashing if attached, the siding, the trim, the windows, the passage door, the electrics, the overhead door, if the overhead door is manual does it open and close freely, if automatic does the safety stops work properly (if the beam is broken does it retract to the open position, and will it retract if someone is pinched between the door closing and the floor), the structure framing, walls and roof. The floor. Bare in mind we are always looking for signs of insects and any damage they may have done whether to the garage structure or the home itself.
So here’s the list of the remaining categories without typing in the details to each category like the above Exterior or Garage categories.
The Basement / Crawlspace
The Plumbing System
The Electrical System
The Heating System
The Cooling System
All other Interior Rooms
There are many systems and/or components in the categories shown above. During the home inspection process it is ideal to have the client present for explanations to findings and/or to answer questions from the client. Many times items are found that are not worth mentioning on the report but will be immediately addressed with the client. Most are tips on how to handle the item(s) or seek the information on its remedies. The list goes on. But for that individual who spends roughly 45 minutes on a complete inspection, the only thing that goes on, is he or she in their vehicle zooming away up the street with your payment. And your left not knowing much about the condition of the systems or components of the home your looking to purchase for many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The ethics standards of my Home Inspection business do not allow me to inspect my families or friends purchases of a home. And I can honestly state, that when my daughter and son-in-law purchased their two homes, I was present, as a father, over looking the home inspector in each case, which were hired from a well known Massachusetts Home Inspection Company whose home inspectors did not perform a professional home inspection because they had to go to the next inspection appointment asap and time was limited. And in one case when the home inspector was finished, I asked questions regarding what "I had found" and his response was “That’s not my Problem”. This was in reference to a "live" electrical open lead of romex cable, dangling from the basement ceiling which I could have walked into and could have been electrocuted when it could have made contact with my forehead. And a similar response from the same inspector on an 8 foot diameter water stain, viewable from the basement on the underside of the kitchen sub floor panel adjacent to the rear exterior door which was showing signs of rain water entry through the rear side door frame and threshold plate. The rear concrete steps had shifted due to settlement and the top elevation of the concrete stair platform was angled towards the home surface and doorway allowing the rainwater entering into the home structure. These were not important to him but his type of water entry "is" important to the undermining of the homes structure. And as wood gets wet, it gets soft and attracts insects. These were only a few important issues I found. On the other home inspection, the inspector arrived by a motorcycle and just walked through quickly, but I didn't find any "important" issues with that home to point out regardless of his quick 1 hour walk through (the home was well maintained). Only 45 minutes to an hour and out the door they both went. And by the way, they each pulled the Radon scam in the pricing routine. $250 for the Home Inspection quoted and at the last minute, the additional charge for Radon was $200 & $250 was presented with the invoice. The unexpected total bill was $450 & $500 for a so-so home inspection. That’s what exist out there folks. So be aware and be sharp.
For your information, each of my clients receive an on-site Home Inspection report with an attached copy of my insurance and a copy of my ASHI Certification, NACHI Certification and NRPP Certification if my client obtained an insect inspection service and Radon Measurement service. That’s what I require from Contractors performing a service for me in my regular job, so it should be so that my clients should receive the same without asking.
And most of all, I’m not in a rush out the door to my next appointment, because I can only schedule two per day. One at 9AM and one at 2PM. That’s just enough time to do the job right per each inspection and get to the next appointment. I’m not squeezing in 5 or 6 inspections per day like some of those other companies perform. At that rate, the 45 minute rule makes sense, but it cannot be done professionally. When I’m finished with my Inspections, my clients know I performed a Professional Home Inspection and they will know more about the condition of the property, the home and its systems and components.
Just for fun. If you know someone who had a home inspection performed, ask him or her if their inspector charge the gutters with water to see if they drained properly or leaked at the joints, or even checked the fence and its posts around the perimeter of the yard. They’ll laugh at you. Most of the time the Seller is not present to inform you of who owns the fence so most do not question it never mind inspect it. Then after the purchase you find the fence falling apart and neighbor states its yours so they don't have to pay for a new fence. And when it rains and you discover drainage the gutter don't drain properly or they leak at the joints. Imagine the cost of the gutter repairs, or a fence replacement from a contractor? It’s not cheap. And these seem like they're small items to worry about right?
"Professional Home Inspectors" look at all of the items, whether they're big or small for you to worry about. That's why the Home Inspection Industry calls it a "Professional Home Inspection". There's many of us out there, you just have to ask the right questions to get the right service.