We are lucky here in the Washington DC area. There are hundreds of home inspectors in Maryland, hundreds of good home inspectors in Virginia, and many dozens of good home inspectors in DC. That choice gives you a good chance to hire the right one for your home inspection needs, but you have to ask the correct questions.
How To Find A Great Home Inspector
How much does it cost?
If price is the primary driver of your decision, you can count on a poor inspection. No one wants to spend more than they have to, but in almost every case, the least experienced and poorest quality inspections will be done by the lower priced companies. Purchasing the most expensive asset you will ever buy is not the time to cut corners and go cheap. Cheap usually ends up to be far more expensive within the first couple of years of ownership and could be disastrous.
Ask about the inspectors training.
It takes a long time to train a good inspector–at least in our company, the training is very demanding usually taking a year or more to complete. Every inspector is tested regularly to be sure they can perform at the highest level. Far too many inspectors learn the basics and never progress beyond that basic knowledge.
Being a contractor for 30 years does not qualify someone as a good home inspector.
It’s a start, but a good home inspector has to have a good working knowledge of all systems within many types of buildings. They have to be aware of past product failures like FRT plywood or Polybutylene pipes as well as new products that are just coming onto the market. Knowing where to look, what to say, how to say it, and what to write to help our clients most is difficult to do all at the same time.
A great home inspector will embrace the latest technology regardless of the entry cost.
All ProTec inspectors carry Infrared cameras, mold sampling equipment, radon monitors, and dozens of other tools that allow us to do the best possible job for our clients. We also offer drone inspections, sewer camera evaluations and asbestos testing on an as needed basis.
How long is the inspection expected to take and when will I get the report what are two important questions to ask?
The average single family home will take about 3 hours for most inspection companies. If they are going too quickly, the inspector will be skipping something and if they are taking too long they are probably not well organized or inexperienced. Most companies will deliver the report within 24 hours. With today’s technology there should be no reason for delays beyond 24 hours. Our reports almost always are delivered on the same day as the inspection.
Do you guarantee your work?
This is where you are far better off with the larger companies. A larger company can easily offer a refund or pay for something serious that was missed on the inspection. A one or two man operation cannot afford to do so. Writing a $2,000 check to an upset client is much easier for a million dollar company than it is for a one-hundred thousand dollar company. Most companies carry E & O insurance in case of a huge miss, but all are reluctant to use it since their policy will probably be cancelled by the provider once used. We offer a 200% guarantee.
Check social media reviews.
The biggest review sites, and thus the most difficult for companies to manipulate, are Facebook, Yelp and Google. You want to see dozens if not hundreds of reviews. You are looking for the full body of work here and not someone’s friends and family.
Look for companies that can handle all your inspection needs.
Your time is valuable and there’s enough to do between signing contracts, addendums, getting lenders, and hiring an appraiser. A good home inspection company can arrange to take care of not only the inspection, but mold testing, radon testing, pool inspections, termite inspections and any other needs keeping it all organized in one place. Don’t let stuff fall through the cracks.
Who answers the phone?
A live dedicated phone staff can be critical as the clock ticks down on your contingency. This is not the time to play phone tag or try to have a conversation with the guy in the middle of someone else’s inspection. A professional phone staff will add to the cost of the inspection, but when you need an answer by 5 pm it can make all the difference in the world. At ProTec we have 15 inspectors backed up by another 20 support staff members to handle all your needs swiftly and professionally. We are not the guy working from his basement.