Getting a home inspection

Buyers are strongly encouraged to make inspection contingent offers and get a complete home inspection. Right now the best home inspectors are very busy. There are several inspectors I can recommend. I have worked with them and I know that they will do a good job finding any problems and explaining the house to the buyers.

It is important for buyers to choose their own inspector but often real estate agents choose inspectors for buyers. In Minnesota there isn’t any special licensing required for home inspectors. Some inspectors have minimal qualifications but they are part of a franchise that provides them some of the business tools they need to be inspectors and guidelines on how to do it.

Most of the homes I sell are older homes. In fact they are downright old making a home inspection very important. The inspector needs to really understand older homes and know what to look for.

Some home buyers will choose an inspector based on reviews and ratings. That may not be the best way to go about it. The ratings are most often coming from first time home buyers who do not have any experience with homes or home inspections and they don’t have anyone to compare the inspector with. I have witnessed some really poor home inspections where the buyers really liked the job the inspector did because they did not know any better.

There are a couple of questions I would ask if I were interviewing inspectors. I would want to know how long they have been doing inspections and what their qualifications are. I would also want to know if they are full time and how well they know the area or neighborhood where the home to be inspected is located. I would want to know if they typically inspect older homes or newer homes or some of each.

Inspectors should also be members of American Society of Home Inspectors. (ASHI). Personally I would like to see some licensing requirements where the inspector would have to pass a test to be licensed and also be required to take continuing education classes.

leak under sink
leak under sink – a picture is worth a 1000 words

I have seen inspectors overstep their area of expertise. For example they will recommend a furnace or boiler replacement because they got a high c02 reading when they should be recommending that a HVAC contractor tune and certify the unit. If it needs replacement the HVAC specialist will say so. I have yet to meet an inspector with an accurate c02 meter.

In other cases the inspector has missed something important like the rust inside the breaker box or the fact that the clean out plug on the main water drain is new of there is an old tank buried in the back yard. After one inspector left the house I showed the buyers where the main water and electrical shut offs were located. Most inspectors go over that. On one inspection I watched as the inspector had the buyer take notes. A good inspector provides a written report and does not ask the home buyer to take notes.

Once the inspection is complete the buyers must decide if they are going to ask for repairs. last year I had some buyers who wanted every issue on the inspection addressed. I later learned that they had changed their mind about buying the place and were just trying to get out of the contract which they could have done very easily during a ten day recision period but they were sneaky and dishonest.

Also see: Asking for repairs?

Home buying inspection 101

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