How should you choose a Home Inspector?
While other issues are equally important, the easiest way to cut to the chase is
to ask for a copy of the Home Inspector's completed Sample Report. Any inspector can buy a nice
looking form or booklet. You want to see a completed sample report.
The Home Inspection Report:
When the inspection
is over, all you have is the inspection report. Home Inspection Reports reflect the detail and professionalism of the
Home Inspector. Make sure you ask for and receive a sample report when deciding on what Home Inspector to use.
Is the report what you want? Does it answer your questions? Is it full of grammar, spelling errors and "fluff",
or is it professionally written with useful information and guidance on how to deal with the problem? Are photos included
to help you, the real estate agents, and repair/service personnel find the defect.
My Sample Report is not truly a
sample. It is an ACTUAL INSPECTION REPORT with the name and address removed to protect the client's privacy. However, the client is on
my list of references.
Most professional Home Inspectors will provide an in depth narrative report While
most professional Home Inspectors have moved to computer generated reports, some still use a pre-printed checklist with narrative
Which type of report on mold in the basement do you want?:
Moisture Location: Normal
X Excessive None: Efflorescence present
X Mold or Mildew present
Yes. - There are signs of current moisture intrusion that need attention now. There are moisture stains located on the baseboard
of the west wall by the pool table, the baseboard of the north wall in the basement bathroom and on the concrete block wall
in the storage area/furnace room.
What appears to be mold or mildew is present. The
identification of the organism(s) is beyond the scope of this home inspection.
My basic recommendation is: Get rid of the moisture
source and clean up the mold. Do not spend money on testing. However, review the below information and recommendations
before deciding on how to deal with this issue.
If, after reviewing the below information, you have additional
questions or want further investigation, I recommend that you contact a Certified Industrial Hygienist, usually listed in
the yellow pages under "Industrial Hygiene Consultants" to determine if there exists an ongoing climate for incubation
or microbial contamination.
I also recommend that steps be taken to eliminate this climate.
Mold, mildew, fungus and other toxic organisms commonly
occur in areas that show evidence of, or have the potential for, leaking, moisture intrusion and/or inadequate ventilation.
Any area or item exhibiting such conditions can be a health hazard to some people.
There is a lot of controversy over the issue of mold and
mold testing. Neither the New York City Department of Health or the Environmental Protection Agency recommend measuring
airborne fungal levels. The EPA publication "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" states "Is
sampling for mold needed? In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary." Money
spent on testing is not available for cleanup.
I recommend that information from the following sources
be reviewed prior to spending any money on mold testing. You may want to identify and review other sources of information.
Some Home Inspectors don't believe in belonging to (as one inspector puts it) "all
them dang associations". Legitimate professional Home Inspector's associate with other legitimate professional Home
Inspectors (the same way other professionals associate with their peer professionals). These organizations provide training
and continuing education for the professional Home Inspector along with a forum for their Home Inspectors to stay current
with recent advances in the industry. They also provide a meaningful code of ethics and a standard of practice
to guide the inspector.
The four, most pertinent to Kentucky, legitimate Real Estate Associations are:
Real Estate Inspection Association (KREIA) www.kreia.org
National Association of Certified Home Inspectors
There are other state home inspector associations that are equally valid
for their state. A list of these can be found at:
Other organizations exist, but the four above are based on a
a goal of bettering the home inspection industry. Some home inspection organizations merely exist as a for-profit certification
mill (send us a check and you can call yourself a certified home inspector or a registered home inspector.) It is now
very simple to do an internet search on the various organizations and determine the membership requirements.
Training and Continuing Education:
Inspection standards, construction standards, safety standards, generally accepted building practices
and other issues change all the time. Is the Inspector making an effort to stay educated. Or are they just ignoring
the new and continuing with the old.
This is the area that more Home Inspector's disagree on than any other area.
Truth is there is no one particular set of experiences that adequately covers ALL of the system's in and around the home,
how they work together, and how they age together. Once a person decides to become a Home Inspector, they must do a
lot of learning and studying on systems outside their particular area of expertise. Look for continuing education in
several different areas of a home's systems.. It's more important than any one set of background experience.
people with these experiences think their experience is best for being a Home Inspector. My thoughts:
There are many classifications of engineers. Electrical, Civil,
Structural, Mechanical, Marine, Transportation, Sanitary, Highway and Geological just to name a few. Ask them
what their specialty is and ask them to put their Professional Engineer's stamp on the line for the Home Inspection.
Few will because their engineering specialty has little to do with residential inspection outside their specialty. Yet
some market themselves as better qualified than any other person, because they are an "Engineer".
"Yes, I had my home inspection done by a Structural Engineer. I had to replace the furnace, the plumbing flooded
the basement, and an electrical fire burned down the garage, but dang, that ridge beam is in fine condition."
Former Home Builder's:
Well, Home Builders usually coordinate all the sub-contractors that actually
build homes but how much actual building and installing does a home builder do. After the house is built, the builder moves
on to build other houses. They don't often stick around to see how the houses age. They seldom see the house again
after the first year, unless they get sued for crappy construction.
Former Municipal Code Inspectors:
Yes, they do (or should) know the MINIMUM standards for their area of
inspection expertise. But what does an electrical code inspector know about plumbing or heating or air conditioning
Professional Certifications: (Do
they mean anything?)
Nothing is wrong with any of these or other specialties becoming Home Inspectors. But don't look to heavy at
the past experience. Rely more on continuing education in several different areas of the home's systems since becoming
a Home Inspector.
From the organizations
listed above, they do. I'm sure there are other organizations whose certifications also mean something. Just make sure
you check the source of the certification, experience, training, and testing requirements.
I could call myself a "Certified
Home Inspector" and have a certificate to prove it just by sending $100.00 to a certain for profit organization. I could
call myself a "Registered Home Inspector" by sending $75.00 to another for profit organization. As a matter of
fact, early in my home inspection career I did receive a "certification" from such an organization. When I "figured
it out", I used it to contribute to the heating system of my home.
Use Home Inspectors who belong to valid associations,
not those who belong to an association formed by a Home Inspection School so their graduates can call themselves certified.
Some of the school founded organizations include:
AAHI - American Association of Home Inspectors
AIS - American Inspector's
"good" marketing tool for the inspector, but seldom useful to the client.
If a Home Inspector offers a guarantee, ask
to see a copy of it before booking the inspection. Ask for references that have actually collected on that guarantee.
Most of these "guarantees" are so riddled with loop holes, disclaimers, and not covered items that they are virtually worthless.
In addition, while seldom disclosed, the guarantee usually disclaims items that do not "pass" inspection. Ask to speak
to some references that have had major systems pass inspection. All the inspector has to do to have the system not covered
(and make the guarantee worthless) is to mark it unsatisfactory.
I offer two
1. I'll use all my experience, training,
and common sense to do the best, most thorough inspection I can without any consideration of whether or not the deal will
go through. I work for my client's best interests in: educating them about the home they are considering buying; whether
systems are installed like they are supposed to be; and whether or not the home's systems are safe. I will provide
a thorough, professional narrative report.
2. I will not find every minor defect in the home. My focus is on
the big dollar items that cost serious money to repair or replace.
REFERRALS & OTHER SERVICES:
the inspector pay a referral fee to whomever referred you to them. Some real estate agents not only ask for this but
require it? (If you are an agent and don't believe this happens, call me, I'll give you specific information.)
the inspector get paid a referral fee from or have a financial interest in the contractors he recommends?
Does the inspector
offer to fix any of the problems found? Professional Home Inspectors, even if they do Home Repair Work (and many do)
won't repair a house they inspected within the last year.
If the inspector offers other services, are they truly qualified
to do so? Ask for their qualifications to provide these services. Is the qualification a quickie from a lab that
makes money doing the lab work for the inspector?
Samples of our inspection report are available on this web site.
call or e-mail us with your information to obtain the price of a professional home inspection.
Whatever your decision,
don't buy a home without a Professional Home Inspection.