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A survey found that 72% of U.S. homeowners agreed that a home inspection helped them avoid potential problems with their home.

Home inspections can help homeowners save a lot of money in the long run because home purchases are often conditional on a home inspection. If any serious issues are found, the repairs could be taken care of by the sellers.

Also, home inspectors can point out potential problems that you can address before they become an issue.

But how do you ensure you get reliable and professional home inspections? Read on to learn what you need to know before you hire a home inspector.

Ask for Credentials

The first thing you should do when considering hiring a certain home inspector is ask for their certifications. There are various home inspector associations including the American Society of Home Inspectors. Only hire home inspectors who have are part of an association.

Hiring a certified home inspector gives you peace of mind in knowing that the person who will be examining your home is up to par on the association’s protocols.

It’s also a smart call to ask about errors and omissions insurance (E&O insurance). This insurance is required of all professional home inspectors. It protects them as well as the homeowners against losses that are due to an oversight on the inspector’s part.

Find Out What the Inspection Includes

You need to know that your potential home inspection includes and doesn’t include.

You will want a house inspector that is very thorough. There’s a big difference between walking through a room and testing each window and electrical outlet.

What about the appliances? Will the home inspector test the washing machine, dishwasher, and stove?

The main components that should be covered in a home inspection are everything that is mechanical, structural, electrical and plumbing.

You also want to make sure that you will get a printed report of what the home inspector found during the inspection.

Review a Sample Report

Before hiring a home inspector, ask to see a sample home inspection report. It can be a blank inspection checklist that is used during every inspection. Or it can be a filled in copy of a previous client’s inspection (minus their names and house details).

A proper house inspection report will be somewhere between 20-50 pages. If a potential home inspector sends you a sample report that is just a few pages long, choose to go with someone else.

Most home inspector reports make it clear what the problems are and what repairs are needed.

Ask How Long an Inspection Would Take

The length of a home inspection depends on the size and age of the home. It also depends on the condition that the home is in.

A home inspector should be able to give you a rough idea of how long an inspection will take. Generally, expect that your home inspection will run from 2-3 hours.

If a home inspector tells you that a home inspection will be considerably less than the average timeframe, that inspector might be performing sub-par inspections that are not thorough.

Ask for References

Now that you’re satisfied with the home inspector you’ve researched, ask for references. Home inspectors should have no problems with giving you a couple of previous clients that they worked with.

When you call those customers, ask them if the home inspector arrived on time on the scheduled date. Ask if they did the inspection with him and if he was knowledgeable about the problems with the house.

Ask the references if they had any concerns that weren’t addressed and if they would recommend that home inspector to their family and friends.

Keep in mind that the references a home inspector provide you will be happy customers. You won’t be given the phone number of customers that weren’t happy (if there are any).

So get a sense of the home inspector from these references but keep in mind that you are only talking to their happiest customers.

Avoid Home Inspectors Who Perform Repairs or Recommend Contractors

Your home inspector should be a neutral third party. If a home inspector offers to perform the necessary home repairs for you, that is a conflict of interest.

Similarly, if a home inspector recommends a certain contractor, that could also be a conflict of interest. You don’t want an inspector who could be profiting from your home either directly or indirectly.

Some home inspector associations allow an inspector to perform certain repairs if they have the qualifications for those repairs. But it’s in your best interest to avoid any situation where you aren’t sure if your home inspector is being honest about a necessary repair in order to get the repair job for himself or a friend.

Avoid any conflicts of interest and keep repairs and home inspections separate. For any necessary repairs, choose a licensed contractor that offers a warranty on their work.

Ask to Attend the Home Inspection

Ideally, you want to attend the home inspection of a home you are planning to buy. For one thing, it gives you another chance to take a look at the house and make a list of things you need to do before you move in.

Secondly, walking around with the home inspector can be very educational. It’s a great way to learn about next steps for the home for both major and minor repairs.

A good home inspector will be knowledgeable and be able to answer all your questions. They’ll be able to give you action plans and options for what you can do for each scenario your home presents.

Plus, being there for the home inspection lets you know that you are getting a good, thorough home inspection. You should see the inspector go up into the attic, test all the outlets inside and out, inspect the windows and so on.

If you are unable to attend the entire inspection, try to arrive for the final half hour. Then your inspector can give you a walk-through of the problem areas and you can see them for yourself.

Bottom Line

We hope you found these tips for hiring a home inspector helpful. Remember to do your research, ask the right questions and know what to expect before you hire an inspector.

If you have already had a home inspection and got a long list of items to fix, take a deep breath. Learn what to do when you get a bad home inspection report.