How Should I Choose A Home Inspector FAQ's

You know you should get a home inspection.  You are making the most important financial decision of your life and need the best advice possible.  For that reason, CHOOSING your home inspector is the most important decision you will make in the home buying process.

There are 6 questions you should ask potential inspectors.

1.     Does your inspector carry two state licenses?

In the State of Washington a good inspector will be a state licensed home inspector.  That license comes from the Department of Licensing.  Your inspector should also be a state licensed Structural Pest Inspector.  That license comes from the Department of Agriculture. 

What’s the difference in these two licenses? 

The structural pest inspector license……

This license program is run by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.  Having it means that the inspector has taken exams where he or she has demonstrated knowledge of state laws about reporting on damaging insects, rot fungus, and the conducive conditions that can allow insects or fungus to arrive at a home.  They also have to prove they can differentiate between harmful and non-harmful insects when it comes to buildings. This exam also covers a Code of Ethics.

The home inspector license…

This licensing program is run by the Washington State Department of Licensing.  Having it means that your inspector has attended an accredited home inspector school (if not grandfathered in, which is talked about below), completed his or her ride-along inspections, much like an apprenticeship, and then taken and passed two exams, one proving knowledge of the systems and components on a home and the other proving knowledge of a Code of Ethics and Washington State laws.  He or she has demonstrated a basic level of expertise when it comes to houses and all of their systems and components.   They know how things are supposed to be built and they recognize defects when things either weren’t put together right, or have shifted out of place, rotted, been broken, etc… They also have knowledge of materials deemed unsafe due to fire danger, recall notices, etc…

2.     Does your inspector carry proper insurance?

When the state of Washington adopted home inspector licensing in 2009 they had to make some decisions.  One of the decisions they made was to not require home inspectors to carry insurance.  There are several types of insurance an inspector can carry.  It is important that the inspector you hire carry both errors and omissions insurance and business liability insurance.

Errors and omissions insurance comes into play when a very obvious and large defect in a home is missed by the inspector you hired.  Business liability insurance is important because when you, the buyer, invite people onto a property you don’t own yet, you can be held liable if they either break something valuable or if they fall and get hurt.  

It is very important that any inspector you hire carry both errors and omissions insurance and business liability insurance.

3.     Was your inspector trained at a top home inspection school?

Another decision the state of Washington made was to allow older inspectors who had been doing paid inspections already, but who had not graduated from home inspector schools, to get a state license.  In other words, they “grandfathered” them in. 

At Move Smart we have never hired, and never will hire, an inspector who has not graduated from one of the top home inspector schools in the nation, and there is a reason for that.  Everyone who has worked construction has some knowledge of houses, but a framer is not an electrician, an electrician is not a furnace expert, and the furnace expert is not a roofer.  In other words, construction is very specialized and people become really good at one thing and don’t know enough about other things to be considered an expert. 

Home inspector schools fill in the gaps that exist in the knowledge base of a person who wants to be a home inspector.  The roofer learns about electricity.  The plumber learns about siding and foundations.   A home inspector is like a general practitioner in the medical field.  He isn’t going to perform surgery.  He is going to perform check-ups.  He knows enough about every system and component in the home to see problems that are already present or starting to develop.  He then can recommend either repairs to those items or further evaluation of them by a higher level expert. 

ou should only hire inspectors who have graduated from one of the top home inspector schools in America.

4.     Does your inspector have the proper technology and tools to do a good job?

I can remember being asked more than once at a home inspection, usually by some well-meaning uncle or friend of a client, how much money a home inspection costs.  When I would tell them, they would then say: “I worked construction.  I should do this.”  I would then ask them if they owned a good moisture meter, infrared thermometer, gas meter, infrared camera, etc… Of course, these tools are too specialized to be owned by the average person, so the answer would always be no. 
The best tools by far an inspector owns are his brain and his eyes.  This will always be true.   When you hire an experienced inspector you are hiring his combined school training, experience, and the opinions he creates based on those things.  But, you are also hiring someone who has tools that can find problems that are not apparent to the naked eye.  A good inspector has the proper tools to do a great home inspection.

5.     Is your inspector a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)?

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), founded in 1976, is North America’s oldest and most respected professional society of home inspectors. ASHI’s goals have always been to build customer awareness of the importance of a quality home inspection and enhance the professionalism of home inspectors.   ASHI is the oldest, and still the most stringent, home inspector association in the world.  We recommend you only use ASHI member home inspectors. ASHI member inspectors follow rigorous Standards of Practice and must take continuing education classes each year to maintain their proficiency and to keep updating their knowledge about homes and the home inspection industry.

6.     What level of customer service can I expect to receive?

Customer service features make your life easier.  At Move Smart Home Inspections we offer the following customer service features:

o We print both of your reports, both the home inspection and the pest inspection, on site in full color, with color pictures, so you are informed of your findings before we leave the home.

o We provide you with a Maintenance System that helps you “run your home.”  You will know what to do to maintain your home, every season of the year, so that you can protect your biggest investment and maximize its value.

o We email your reports anywhere you want them to go.

o We offer lifetime free phone advice on house projects or purchases.

o We schedule inspections on short notice and seven days a week.

o We accept Visa and Mastercard, in addition to cash, money orders and personal checks.