Qualify Your Home Inspector by Rick Hartmann
read a lot of other home inspectors' websites. I read a lot of inspection reports. Quite frankly, some of
those scare the heck out of me and leave me wondering
how these people are still in business. They conduct an inspection which by most standards, is
unacceptable and issue a hard-to-decipher, hand-written,
style report. They are still in business because most
people still shop for a home inspection by price. Some unscrupulous
Realtors will choose this type of inspector because they
asking a potential inspector how much they charge, read
the items below to properly qualify your home inspector.
Remember, in this business, you get what you pay for.
You can't expect a Mercedes for the price of a Mazda. If
you take away anything from this article, PLEASE, don't
shop by price!
On last word of warning, in the State of California,
home inspectors are not allowed to do repairs on the
properties they have inspected for a period of 12 months
after the date of the inspection. If your home inspector
offers to do repairs, THEY ARE VIOLATING THE LAW.
from the California Business and Professions Code:
(a) It is an unfair business practice for a home
inspector, a company that employs the inspector, or a
company that is controlled by a company that also has a
financial interest in a company employing a home
inspector, to do any of the following: (1) To perform or
offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs to
a structure on which the inspector, or the inspector's
company, has prepared a home inspection report in the
past 12 months.
Membership in a recognized association of
home inspectors, such as the American Society
of Home Inspectors (ASHI), is commonly held to be a
measure of professionalism among home inspectors.
Membership requires adherence to standards of practice,
codes of ethics, and ongoing education. On the other
hand, no governing body can mandate competent
performance or ethical conduct. Regrettably, not all
association members are truly qualified inspectors.
Beware of associations who administer an on-line test
for acceptance. There was a recent news report where a 12
year old boy became a "certified home
inspector" over the internet. Just pay a fee, take
a simple test and you're in.
am a member of ASHI. In order to become a ASHI Certified inspector, I had to submit proof of 250 fee-paid inspections, had a random sample of 5 inspection reports reviewed and passed a Standards of Practice and Ethics exam. ASHI is a nationally recognized credentialing organization.
Inspection Experience: Years of dedicated
practice can produce home inspectors with the ability to
discover defects that would be missed by inspectors with
less experience. On the other hand, shortcomings in
talent or integrity can diminish the benefits of
began inspecting homes in November 2003. As of 01/01/18,
I have performed over 2167 inspections. Out of those 2167, 2 clients called to report that I missed something. FYI, this was in 2005, when I was still 'green'. One was that I didn't point out some broken glass in a dishwasher and another, that a 28 year old microwave failed and the client wanted a new one. Heck, I wrote in the report that it was 28 years old and you should budget for a new one! Compared to my fellow inspectors who seem to constantly 'belly-ache' about how bad their clients are, I think I'm doing pretty good!
Building Code Certification: Although code
certification is not a professional requirement for home
inspectors, some inspectors acquire code credentials to
increase their knowledge of potential building defects.
This knowledge is unquestionably beneficial. On the
other hand, increased knowledge is not related to the
inherent ability to observe and evaluate defects. It is
possible to know the code yet fail to recognize an
am an ICC Certified Residential Building Inspector, Certified Electrical
Inspector and Certified Mechanical Inspector. ICC writes the code
books. Their tests are not easy or cheap. I recently saw
one home inspectors website which displayed the ICC logo,
however, upon closer examination, he has not taken any
inspection tests. He basically paid for a magazine
subscription. Be careful, home inspectors will employ a lot of fancy
tricks to "fluff-up" their qualifications. Ask
for a resume. Any home inspector which cannot
immediately supply you with one may not be qualified.
Formal Home Inspection Training: A common
mistake among new home inspectors is to rely on past
construction experience, rather than on specific home
inspection training. Those who have attended a qualified
school are better prepared to commence their careers as
inspectors. On the other hand, there is no amount of
schooling that truly prepares one for the complexities
of inspecting homes. Schooling merely provides a
foundation on which to build experience.
learned the home inspection profession through a 1.5
year apprenticeship (mentorship) program. 2 seasoned
CREIA inspectors took me on 75 home inspections from
start to finish over the course of a year. I did
practice reports for all the properties inspected which
were reviewed by my mentors. At the end of that year, I
attended the TWI Training School in Las Vegas for 1
week. For the next 6 months, a
representative sample of the fee-paid inspections
I performed were reviewed. Experience is the best way to
learn. No training school can teach that. Ask your next
prospective home inspector what type of home inspection
training they've had. You'll be surprised!
Ask for a Sample Report: Sample reports provide
clues as to the thoroughness of a home inspector. If you
have difficulty reading the sample report on their
website, you'll know that you won't have an easy time
reading yours. Stay away from checklist style reports. On the
other hand, anyone can purchase a high-tech report
writing system. The report may look great, but this does
not mean there is a qualified inspector behind the
printed page. Furthermore, sample reports only show the
problems that were found by the inspector, not the ones
that were missed. Look closely for spelling and
grammatical errors. This will give you some clues as to
the inspectors level of education.
use the Home Inspector Pro software system. Yes, this
software came pre-loaded with canned comments, however,
I threw them all out! I've written each comment in the
report myself and each comment is specifically
tailored to accurately describe the conditions of the
home I am inspecting.
I speak English, not 'Inspectorspeak.' You won't see the phrases 'appears serviceable' or 'monitor this condition' in any of my reports.
Contracts and Insurance: Many home inspectors do not carry Errors and Omissions Insurance. The state of California does not require it, so many don't bother. People rarely ask me if I am insured. I would ask any potential home inspector you are looking to hire if they are insured and insist they provide proof. I have heard from several home inspectors that tell their clients they are insured, but they are not. What other recourse will you have if they miss something?
You should also ask to see a copy of their inspection agreement. Many home inspectors try to limit their liability to the cost of the inspection. This is a violation of the business and professions code.
carry Errors and Omissions Insurance and have General Liability Insurance. I do not limit my liablilty to the cost of the inspection. I stand behind my work for four years!
Here's a Litle Trick to Qualify a Potential Home Inspector: After you have asked how much the inspection fee is and you've determined that the price is right, do yourself a favor and ask the following 3 questions. If the inspector you chose gets any of them wrong, the fee is too low and you should keep looking.
1. What is the current Building Code in California? THE 2013 CALIFORNIA RESIDENTIAL CODE
2. What is the current building standard for rise and run of stairway treads? 7 3/4" AND 10"
3. Do you you what KITEC water supply piping is? WATER SUPPLY PIPING AND BRASS FITTINGS THAT HAVE BEEN SUBJECT TO A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT. IT IS FAILING IN HOMES IN NORTHERN CA.