How to choose the best home inspector?

The top 10 questions to ask when interviewing a home inspector.

1. How long have you been an inspector, and how many inspections have you completed?

  • This is the single most important question to ask your home inspector.  The most qualified inspectors have performed thousands of inspections over several years – aim for someone who has performed at least a few thousand inspections over a period of a decade or longer.

2. What does the home inspection cover?

  • An inspection is relatively extensive, but the key thing to listen for while interviewing is that the inspector is able to comfortably and easily explain the process to you.

3. Are you licensed and insured for residential inspections?

  • Both of these are essential to protect your home and ensure a professional inspection.  In fact, in some states – like Illinois – a license is legally required.

4. Do you offer repair work based on the inspection outcome?

  • This should be forbidden as it is a conflict of interest.  You do not want an inspector who stands to make money from any defects he or she finds.

5. How long will the home inspection take?

  • An average home should take 2-3 hours depending on size.  Beware of an inspector who claims to need very little time to cover all of a home’s issues.  Be equally wary of one who takes an exceptionally long amount of time as this may be a sign of inexperience.

6. How much does the inspection cost?

  • When shopping around, pay attention to price – it can serve as an indicator of experience.  The most experienced inspectors may charge a bit more than someone newer without the field experience.  Similarly, an inspector offering a price just under competitor prices may be new to the inspection market and trying to acquire clients.

7. What type of report do you provide and how long does it take to get it?

  • The report should be clear and concise.  Extensive report size may mean pages of unnecessary information you will need to sift through.  The report should be available to you within 24-48 hours.  Both handwritten and digital forms of reporting are equally acceptable; however, digital reports are often easier to read and can include numerous photos of the property.

8. Will I be able to attend the inspection?

  • Definitely.  It is highly recommended that you attend the inspection in order to learn about the components of your potential home.  Also, if you attend you will be able to better understand any issues notated in the report.

9. Are you a member of any professional organizations?

  • Inspectors should not only be state licensed, but also members of an industry organization, such as ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors) or a similarly respected organization.  Within these organizations there are levels of certification to be achieved.

10. How many hours of continuing education do you take every year?

  • The state of Illinois requires only 6 hours per year while ASHI, for example, requires 20 hours per year.  The best inspectors will choose to go well above and beyond the state-required number in order to further their expertise.