Choose an inspector who wants you around during the entire inspection. “We recommend bringing the clients there during the inspection every single time from start to finish,” Saltzman says, rather than just showing up for the report at the end. “I don’t think the clients get as much out of the inspection if they do it that way.”
Ask for a sample report. “Any great home inspector should have their home inspection reports displayed on a website,” Saltzman says. See if the reports are clearly written and how they are formatted. Saltzman says a good report should identify the defect, explain why it matters and suggest what should be done to fix it. All good reports also include photos.
Read reviews on Angie’s List, Yelp and Google. You can ask inspectors for references and call past clients. But you should also read online reviews that the inspector doesn’t control to ensure accuracy.
Ask if the inspector is a member of ASHI, NAHI, InterNACHI or any other professional inspectors group. Choosing an inspector who belongs to a professional organization isn’t a guarantee of quality, but it does indicate a degree of professionalism and training.
Ask about experience and certifications. How long has the inspector been in business? How many inspections has he or she done? Has he or she taken specialized courses? Make sure you hire someone who does inspections full time rather than as a side job.
Ask what won’t be included and how to find out the condition of those items. In colder climates, for example, the roof, deck, patio, driveway and other exterior features can’t be inspected when they are covered with snow.
Get copies of license and insurance documents. Many, though not all, states require home inspectors to be licensed. Some municipalities may also require licensing. A qualified home inspector will provide copies of his or her license and proof of insurance.
Ask if the inspector can do ancillary inspections. If your home has a septic system, for example, or if foundation problems are common in your area, ask ahead of time if the inspector can do those inspections and if there will be an extra fee.