Buying a home is one of the biggest transactions in most people's lives. Home inspectors can help ensure the transaction is satisfying to all, or they can leave a new buyer feeling cheated because home inspection is not consistently regulated across the country, and not all home inspectors are created equal.
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Consumers can reduce the risk of hiring bad home inspectors by becoming educated about the home inspection process. Talking to real estate agents about home inspections or taking real estate classes can be helpful in this regard. In addition, asking realtors, friends, family and co-workers for references of home inspectors they have worked with successfully can help. Finally, when contacting a home inspector, the following questions should be asked before contracting for any service:
- What credentials does the home inspector hold and which organizations awarded the credentials? What other types of education and experience do they have?
- Is home inspection their full-time occupation? How many home inspections do they perform annually?
- Can consumers (either buyers or sellers or both) attend the inspection and ask questions during the inspection?
- Have any complaints or lawsuits, relating to home inspection, been filed against the home inspector or the home inspection company?
- How much will an inspection cost?
It is important that the buyer or seller confirms the information provided by the home inspector. This may mean contacting a professional organization, such as the National Association of Home Inspectors Inc. (NAHI), the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and possibly a lawyer who can search civil court records. To determine if the price quoted by the home inspector is fair, a good rule of thumb is that the price of the inspection should be equal to 1 or 2 percent of the total transaction value. Often, quality home inspections will uncover issues whose repair will cost many times the amount of the fee.
The home inspection profession is a demanding job that requires a broad base of knowledge in all areas of home construction, maintenance and safety issues. Consumers should only accept home inspectors with credentials from national organizations such as NAHI.