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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Raven DeCroeDeCroe, is my "etherial" home inspector assistant and occasionally flies into my blog and other people's blogs to offer assistance. To find out more about her beginnings just click on Raven.

 

 
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Seattle Home Inspector

Click on the Rose A Group by any other name. to check out: AHA!---A Forum of Landmark Proportions---your Group

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Rainmaker
163,409
Kate Ford
Ask Kate a mortgage question...
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com

Don't stone me for adding "Check with your gut feeling after the initial conversation", okay? Everyone has a gut feeling and if it's not yet developed, now is a good time. :) kate ford

May 09, 2009 02:48 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,771
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Boy, I get busy, don't log on for a few days and look what happens - total regression to kindergarten...!

So, how did you find the inspector?  If/when my son needs one, I know where to go.  Well, at least in Seattle or Bellingham!

So, um, where are the coveralls?

By the way, my website is ALWAYS under construction, changing nearly every day, but I hope I have all my defecant together...

May 10, 2009 07:40 PM
Rainmaker
229,481
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Charles - excellent post.  I completely agree with points 1-5... but I'm confused about point 6.  Are you saying that the person answering the phone should or shouldn't be the same person doing your inspection?  I've heard valid arguments for both sides of this. 

 Or are you just saying that the company you hire should answer their phone?

May 10, 2009 10:11 PM
Rainmaker
179,204
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton

Charles,  I think this is the very first time in all your posts I've read that I agreed 100%.  There must be something wrong.  Seriously, excellent post, and not just because I agree.

 

May 11, 2009 12:34 AM
Rainmaker
179,204
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton

By the way, did you put on some extra stuff for that picture or do you carry that (what looks to be) couple of hundred pounds during the whole inspection.  

I can't do crawls or roofs with little more than myself along.

 

May 11, 2009 12:36 AM
Anonymous #20
Anonymous
Anonymous

have two real reports, only the names and addresses changed, at my site. I get a fair amount of work from people who like my report.

 

Home Inspection

May 11, 2009 02:00 AM
Rainmaker
1,177,637
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Mr Charles,

You have not posted. You may be looking for a home inspector, I am looking for a buddy to hand with in Seattle. Come back.

Nutsy

May 11, 2009 05:11 PM
Rainmaker
312,527
Carol Culkin
Overland Park
Reece & Nichols

Hey Charlie - I'm catching up on commenting after being gone a few days. I guess I can relate to this post.  I think the list of inspectors on my website include ones who have even been recommended to my past clients by attorneys.  I think I would give that more merit than asking friends who may have only experienced one real estate transaction in their lifetime. I also, will take people off my list of real estate partners as soon as I have a complaint and reason to justify it. The inspector who Ireally like to use is the one who provides me with a disc so I can download the report AND I like knowing they have invested in special equipment to detect moisture & mold.  Most of all, the inspector and attorney should be able to work together too, because as a team we must all advocate for the buyer.  One more thing, upstate NY is very behind the times when it comes to iinnovativetechniques like website design and marketing.  I found this crazy when I moved here 10 years ago from the Midwest and discovered that some local real estate agencies were still not marketing online.         

May 12, 2009 01:20 AM
Rainmaker
66,806
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)

Sometimes I answer my own phone (when I'm in the office), and sometimes my lovely assisitant (my wife) answers (and does a wonderful job, I might add). Either of us can answer most any question, and the ones she can't answer, she will have me call them back.

So, I was just wondering, Charles, where the relevance lies with your #6 question "Does the person that is going to be doing the inspection answer the phone?"  Are you suggesting that if you don't get the inspector on the phone you should hang up, or find someone else?

May 12, 2009 06:44 AM
Ambassador
1,067,967
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

I apologize for not getting back to everyone---but I have been a
bit under the weather----finally able to get off the couch for a few
minutes
:)

Suesan, love to see it.

Steve, like you I often have clients tell me that it is the report that pushes them toward chosing me over others they are looking at.

Tammy, when I started looking around I just coundn't believe how many were under construction.

Barbara, I thought about that as I was writing it that the principles would apply to agents too perhaps.  And of course I recommened you at the bottom:)

Kate, if one has a reliable gut feeling----go for it:)

Jay, I switched from coveralls to underroos.  Of course our sites are always under construction in the sense that we are changing them all the time.  I am just talking about type where all a person sees when they open the site is "UNDER CONSTRUCTION"

Reuben, as long as the caller gets the information they need it might not matter too much, but when it comes to the time of the inspection the inspector has no clue what the buyer is asking him regarding conversations they had with whoever took the call I feel that is a good disconnect to avoid.

Jack, thanks

Carol, a list like you provide is a great place for buyers to start and I think it is true that any such list from an agent cab represent years of "filtering" in terms of feedback from many buyers.  I think those on lists like that need to have their reports on there so that buyers looking at the list having something concrete to look at in making their selection.  I agree with you too that NY State inspectors seem a little behind the times regarding their websites too:)

Kevin, see my response to Reuben above.  I am just trying to minimize the disconnect that can happen between whoever answers the phone and who does the inspection---if they are different.

May 12, 2009 11:40 AM
Ambassador
1,859,287
Judi K Barrett
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma

Charles, I laughed so many times while reading this.  My husband is a licensed home inspector in the state of Oklahoma BUt because I am a broker, he does vey few... but your blog rang true so many times that it was joy to read. 

May 12, 2009 09:37 PM
Ambassador
1,067,967
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Judi, so glad you enjoyed it:)

May 12, 2009 10:58 PM
Rainmaker
163,409
Kate Ford
Ask Kate a mortgage question...
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com

Did my keyboard transmit the flu? I wondered it you were sick. Hope you're feeling better. kate ford

May 13, 2009 08:32 AM
Ambassador
1,067,967
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Kate, of COURSE it is your fault:) Actually I am slowly feeling better----finally able to sit at the computer long enough to post something:)

May 13, 2009 11:32 AM
Rainmaker
163,409
Kate Ford
Ask Kate a mortgage question...
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com

I'll try to be more considerate next time. WAIT! No more flu! Get better soon. kate ford

May 13, 2009 06:29 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,771
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
Ambassador
1,067,967
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
Anonymous
Pamela
Do you know any excellent inspectors in Portland, OR, perhaps?
April 07, 2012 06:35 PM
Ambassador
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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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