Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the
inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics,
such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home
Inspectors. Customers can view each group's standards of practice and code of ethics online at
www.nahi.org. ASHI's Web site also provides a
database of state regulations.
Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? There are many state and
national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately,
some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist
on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.
How experienced are you? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many
inspections they've completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be
highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a
more experienced partner.
How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors' commitment to continuing education
is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases
in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and
experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial
buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home,
they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.
Will you offer to do repairs or improvements? Some state laws and trade associations
allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other
states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest. Contact your local ASHI chapter to learn about
the rules in your state.
How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a
typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough.
If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional
inspectors will be brought in.
What's the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size
and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is
about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that
seem too good to be true.
What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine
whether you will understand the inspector's reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their
full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection
is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector's refusal to let the buyer attend
should raise a red flag.
Source: Rob Paterkiewicz, executive director, American Society of Home Inspectors, Des Plaines, Ill.,