How hard can it be to find a good Home Inspector?

By
Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

     Being a home inspector, one would think that it would not be difficult for me to advise my son and his wife as to how to find a good one.

     From three thousand miles away I have found that it is VERY difficult.

The Home Inspector at work?     Of course the recommendations from their agent are a good place to start----but what criteria do they use for picking one of those recommendations?  And if they go outside of that list what criteria do they use?

     Another source of information might be from their friends that have used a particular inspector.

     Being an inspector I am able to “read between the lines” of the information inspectors might provide about themselves on line-----buyers are not likely going to be able to do that.

     And then there are all the “INITIALS!”  How the heck are they supposed to wade through all the hype, marketing, and (in some cases) just plain malarkey of the Home Inspector Associations.  There are ASHI, InterNACHI, NAHI, AHI, AII, NIBI-----and that doesn’t even get into all the individual State Associations.

     Disclaimer:  The following comments about the process of finding an inspector for my son and his wife was a less than perfect undertaking and the conclusions/opinions I am going to make in no way reflect the way I think the process should work, and perhaps should serve as a warning ahead of time to anyone who’s panties gets all in a bunch:)

    1. Use Google:  If a person can’t find an inspector in the area they are buying in, on Google, one has to question how up to date they might be in other areas of their business.  I know this is a harsh reality----but it is the way modern consumers find information.

     2.  Use Home Inspector Association’s “FIND AN INSPECTOR” functions: BUT USE THEM ALL.  Be very careful about “believing” what any one Association tells you about why they are the best.  The reality is that there are great inspectors in all of the Associations.

     3.  Does the inspector have a website?  To reiterate #1, they not only have to have a website it must be:  easy to navigate and have the information you are looking for----EFFORTLESSLY.  Is the website just trying to look spiffy or is it creating the opportunity for the buyer to contact them?

     a. Phone number (206 478-7371) should be prominently displayed.  Avoid forms designed for consumers to fill out to have information sent to them-----99% of the time they will leave and find an inspector that doesn’t make them work for the information.

     b. Sample report must be there.  When I was doing my search recently for inspectors on one of the Association lists, there were 24 inspectors listed for the area I was interested in.  5 had no websites at all----these inspectors may be the best inspectors in the world but if I can’t check them out previous to calling them----they just plain are not going to get the call.  Only 3 had sample reports and two were so “bad” that it really only left one that I would even consider calling.  1 out of 24 is not very good odds.  I really think that reports on websites are perhaps the best way for consumers to get a sense of what the inspector is going to be doing for them.  Is the report just a check list with tons of information that doesn’t pertain to the home?  Are there photographs and diagrams to help explain what is going on?  Does the report educate as well as inform?  Is the report 5 pages or 50 pages?  Are there 5 pages of report and 10 pages of disclaimers?  Also, NEVER make someone fill out a form to see a Sample Report.  Again many will just hit the back button and move on to the next inspector on the list.

     c. The Website should not take forever to load because it has a bunch of video or moving parts.

     d. How good the website looks should not be more important than the information it is supposed to be conveying.

     e. NEVER----be “Under Construction.”  What this actually says is, “I have not got my shit together yet---please forgive me because I am a Newbie.”  Do you really want to convey that you are not ready yet?  It is better to not have anything come up at all.

     4.  Avoid multi-inspector franchises unless you REALLY know what you are doing.  I know I will get some flak for this one----but please re-read the disclaimer above.  We are talking about consumers that know nothing about buying a house and are trying to find an inspector based on the information available on-line.  While “theoretically” the consumer should be getting the same great service that they would if the boss of the operation was doing the inspection, it is my experience that this is rarely the case.  It is a good idea to look for an inspector that is in no hurry to get to the next inspection.  Most franchises operate successfully due to volume.  Is it possible to get a good inspection from a franchise inspection firm?  Of course----I am just trying to “streamline” the process a bit for the average buyer----it is difficult enough as it is.

     5.  Find a GREAT agent!  Again---let the arrows fly----this is reality TV here and that reality says that most buyers are going to listen to the recommendations of their agent as to an inspector to use.  I would go so far as to say it is less risky than doing ones own individual search for an inspector.  So from this point of view the key to finding a good inspector would first involve doing ones homework well enough to find an agent that one totally trusts.  The BEST agents have one thing in mind----seeing to it that their buyers are taken care of in the best possible way.  Finding such an agent is 50% of the battle of finding a good inspector.  You then merely have to find one on that list that is the best fit for you.  While some argue that this is an inherent conflict of interest, I would argue that, given the current dilemma the consumer has in finding a good inspector by other means, that it is still a viable option.  I find it ludicrous to think that I would ever compromise the inspection process for a few hundred bucks and the “anticipation” of future referrals.  I hear that this happens but I would expect it to be pretty rare----and a sign that one did not do a very good job of choosing ones agent.

     6.  Does the person that is going to be doing the inspection answer the phone?

 

Charles Buell

 

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Topic:
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Puget Sound - WA Real Estate
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Rainmaker
1,168,340
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

I know - I was lumping myself in with the lazoids...  A lazoid I am not...!

May 15, 2009 07:49 AM
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Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Kate, I am pretty much better thanks.

Jay, lazoid sounds more like something I would associate with Croakster.

May 15, 2009 06:54 PM
Anonymous #32
Anonymous
John

I am a member of the American Home Inspector Directory. We pay an annual membership fee and the owners do check that we are current with our State and association license's.

August 16, 2010 04:53 PM
Anonymous #33
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Pamela
Do you know any excellent inspectors in Portland, OR, perhaps?
April 07, 2012 06:35 PM
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Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Pamela, call Jim Katen or Susan Walker

April 07, 2012 07:11 PM
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My blog is intended to provide information related to home inspections in Seattle, surrounding communities and anyone else interested. Sometimes I will provide information that has nothing to do with home inspections. Enjoy!

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