Choosing an Inspector

family looking at plans

When it is time for you to start looking for a Home Inspector, where can you find a list of qualified companies from which to choose? You might want to ask your Realtor, Banker, or Attorney for a list of names. Otherwise you can search the web, look in the Yellow Pages under Home Inspections, ask friends or co-workers, or check out the directories of top national organizations such as ASHI for a listing of Inspectors in your area.

By following these simple steps, you can help to ensure that you are making the right choice when selecting a Home Inspector.

Buying a home will likely be the largest investment you will ever make. Consequently, it is very important to choose wisely when selecting your Home Inspector. The first question is are you a licensed Washington State Home Inspector? Second questions would be what additional licenses or certification do you have? Is the inspector a Certified Member of ASHI® (American Society of Home Inspectors)? ASHI and NAHI are the only nationally recognized Professional Associations for Home Inspectors that require proctored testing, peer reviews, continuing education, extensive cross training in all of a homes mechanical and structural components, and the completion of 250 Whole House Inspections prior to becoming a CRI or Certified Member. The ASHI Standards of Practice are recognized by FHA, VA, HUD, the NAR, and Court System through North America as the legal definition of what a Home Inspection does and does not include. A house is made of many different components and systems that are all inter-related and are all supposed to work together. Many of these are hidden from view, and cannot be directly viewed. It is important to choose an inspector who has the education and quality systems to inspect your home from the ground up, and has been involved in the installation and layout of these systems.
There is no equivalent to experience! Do you really want someone inspecting your house who is doing this “part-time?” Are they using a checklist report or a report with pictures and narrative descriptions? Another indicator is the length of time they will require to inspect your home. Most homes cannot be adequately inspected in less than two hours.

Be sure that your Home Inspector provides a detailed written report, not a hand written checklist with stock responses that is given to you at the end of the inspection. A checklist can be difficult to interpret and to read, and may be void of many of the details and advice you need. A step up from this is a computer-generated report, which offers a combination of the checklist and a narrative reporting formats, and which includes digital pictures and specific comments of areas of concern.

An Inspection Report should encompass four basic areas:

  • Safety Issues – These are items that are a hazard to the occupants and could cause situations that could damage the property such as fire or flooding
  • Maintenance Items – A listing of items in need of normal maintenance or attention. This list will allow you to be pro-active in your approach to home maintenance, and hopefully, minimize your risk of being blind-sided by an unexpected expense you could have been saving for, if you had known about it.
  • Corrections Recommended – This is any defect with the potential to present a significant expense to you, in the near term. These items should be clearly identified, with estimated repair/replacement costs (if possible).
  • The Inspection and Report – Should give you the information that you, as the buyer, need to make an informed decision about your new purchase. Here’s what ours looks like.
A experienced home inspector will be confident in their work and may offer a guarantee or warranty on their inspection. For the newer home buyer this will be some piece of mind and minimize the number of surprises once they move into the home. Click here to learn about PCI’s home warranty.
Is your inspector licensed? All Washington Inspectors must carry a state license. Secondly, be sure that the Inspector you retain has professional affiliations and certifications through nationally recognized organizations such as ASHI and NAHI as well as being a member of the realtor boards. PCI carries the Washington State Home Inspector License, ASHI Certified Inspector, AARST certification to test for RADON and is a FHA Compliance Inspector. PCI is also a member of the North Puget Sound Association of Realtors.

Why is price last on the list? When you started searching for a home, did you say to yourself, “I am going to look high and low and find the cheapest house I can”? Of course not! Otherwise you would be moving into a run down shack on a dirt road.. What you really wanted was the best value for your money, right? You should want the same from your home inspection. Don’t just go through the motions of having an inspection done. Get it done well with a truly qualified professional!

With just about any purchase there are risks and the bigger the price tag, the greater the risks. The courts are full of once happy homeowners who for one reason or another are suing the seller, builder or a material supplier for something gone wrong with their new home. For every one in court, there are many more who are suffering silently with a problem home.

Why? Often it is because they hired a cheap home inspector–one who spent a week at one of the inspector training mills where he picked up a wheelbarrow load of checklists and he arrived at the $100,000 to $10,000,000 house and started filling in blanks with checkmarks for a real low price, just like he learned at The Institute for Home Inspectin’ and Bar Tending.

Today’s homes are complex engineered systems that must be properly assembled and maintained. A professional home inspector is one who has an understanding of building science and knows how your home systems are meant to interact and also understands the common ways in which they will fail. Just as importantly he also knows how to communicate this information clearly and concisely. This knowledge comes with education, ongoing training and experience.

Our fees start at $350 (for a small condo) with additional charges for square footage over 1,600 SF, crawl spaces, age and distance. Click here to see how our price compare. Is a professional licensed home inspection worth the extra cost? Click here to see what our clients say about their home inspection experience with a professional inspector. What is a $25 or $50 difference in price compared to your potential exposure if, due to inexperience, your “low budget” inspector overlooks an expensive defect? On balance, you will find that hiring the best doesn’t cost, it pays!