Is Your Home Inspector Legit? Why Buyers Should Inspect Their Inspectors
Of the roughly 30,000 U.S. home inspectors nationally, those in about 15 states don’t need to be licensed, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. Among the non-licensure states—you guessed it includes California.
How to inspect the home inspectors—and find a winner
Good sources to finding a Home Inspector are professional trade associations. There are two quality associations available in California: the California Real Estate Inspection Association, CREIA and the American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI. Both organizations require their members to pass an exam showing competence in the home inspection profession along with requiring that each member maintains continuing educational credits each year, CREIA requiring 30 hours per year and ASHI requiring 20 hours per year.
The client should interview all potential Inspectors they are considering and ask the following:
- Is the inspector a member of CREIA and/or ASHI?
- What does the inspection cover? Make sure the inspection and the inspection report meet all applicable requirements and comply with the CREIA and/or ASHI Standards of Practice. Both Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Legislature
- How long has the inspector been practicing and how many inspections have they completed?
- Does the inspector’s company offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection? This is against the CREIA and ASHI Code of Ethics as it is a defined conflict of interest
- How long will the inspection take? The average for a single inspection is 2 to 3 hours for a typical single-family house; anything less may not be enough time to do a thorough inspection. Some inspection firms send a team of inspectors and the time frame may be shorter
- Does the inspector prepare a written report? Ask to see samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector’s reporting style
- Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal to allow this should raise a red flag
- Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his or her expertise up to date? One can never know it all, and the inspector’s commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his professionalism and service to the consumer
As for what to do if problems crop up that the inspector should have found, the first course of action should be to contact the inspector directly to discuss the issue. No corrective work should be undertaken before the inspector has an opportunity to review the report and be given the chance to revisit the property. Good inspectors will make good on their services if they missed something that should have been discovered during the course of the inspection. Keep in mind that the inspector is operating per an accepted Standards of Practice which states what is required to be inspected and what is not. Also many Inspectors carry professional liability, errors and omission insurance (although it is not required).