There aren't many homeowners who can say they're home experts. Even builders, remodelers and appraisers familiar with most common home repair and maintenance issues, use home inspectors to check out a new house during the home buying process. With all my experience, I was glad I found a home inspector for our Arizona house. There were lots of unwelcome surprises (learn more here, GFCIs, Smoke Detectors & Home Safety), so we had him come back twice to verify the repairs were done properly.
When HireAnInspector.com asked me for an interview about home inspectors, I was honored. So please jump on over to read my interview, Tina Gleisner and How to Find a Home Inspector Who is Skilled, Helpful and Responsive to Your Needs.
Benefits of a Home Inspection
Most people associate home inspections with buying a house. You may be familiar with the problems your current house has. That's great but it doesn't help much when you're buying your second or third home. With my Arizona house, it's the first time we have a pool, stucco siding, a tile roof and a heat pump.
A home inspection should help you identify potential problems before they become emergencies. We fixed all the safety problems found by our Arizona home inspector. But I wanted more time to research a new HVAC system. That's when I learned why a home warranty is never the right answer, as we lived with 95º temperatures (read: Can You Trust a Home Warranty Company?).
So when does it make sense to schedule a home inspection? Here are my ideas based on running a handyman business for eight years. Plus I've learned in Arizona that second homes aren't maintained as well as a primary residences, especially when money is tight during a recession. Once you study the chart above, from Housing: Before, During and After the Great Recession, this makes a lot of sense.
- Before buying an existing house, learn what home repairs are needed. You can use this information to negotiate repairs or a lower price.
- When buying a new house from a builder, you still need to make sure everything was done right. Your architect might also fill this role as we learned in Portsmouth, NH. We had a landscape architect draw up plans and she came to review the work about half way through. She knew immediately that we didn't get the plants specified and she helped us negotiate a win-win solution.
- When preparing to sell a house, a home inspection can identify problems to fix before you put the property on the market.
- Use a home inspection to catch up when you've neglected preventive home maintenance and repairs.
- After major storm damage, a home inspection can help you identify needed repairs. This can help you more successfully negotiate with the insurance company adjuster.
- Before, during and after a major remodeling project. If you don't have enough experience, another pair of eyes making sure the job is done right is valuable.
4 Steps to Qualifying Home Inspectors
- Make sure your home inspector has the necessary state licensing. Here's a website, USHomeInspectorLicense.com, that till tell you if your state requires licensing. It also outlines the education experience and insurance required to get licensed.
- Pick home inspectors that are members of an industry association. These groups provide ongoing education, to help inspectors stay current with new building codes, business tools and more.
- Ask prospective home inspectors about the last class they took. You want someone who values this knowledge, and if they share how they've used the information, that's a bonus.
- Review a sample home inspection report to see the quality of their work product. You want to see lots of photos and where there are problems, recommendations on the type of home repair or replacement needed. Here's a sample home inspection report from my NH friends at AbleHomeInspection.com.
PS Two of my most popular articles on home inspections: