September 12, 1999
MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS OF YOUR NEXT HOME INSPECTION
By Michael W. Pederson, President, NARIESä
National Association of Real-estate Inspection and Evaluation Services
Training Home Inspectors since 1992
The Real Estate Industry and smart homebuyers know the
importance of a "Professional Home Inspection." Smart homebuyers want
to know what the physical condition of their potential home purchase is. They
want to avoid buying the proverbial "Money Pit."
The home’s location and visual appeal are what motivates
buyers, and they may believe it appears to be in excellent condition. However,
unknown, costly deficiencies often exist, which the buyer should know about
before purchase. Therefore, they should hire a trained and qualified Home
Inspector. The Inspector can detect any problems, and convey the true condition
of the property in the form of a written report.
I suggest considering the following points to help you
maximize the benefits of your next home purchase and that, "Home
- Get a 5 to 10 day time period for the inspection written in the offer,
purchase and sale agreement, giving you time to obtain a good inspection,
and think about the report after you receive it.
- Points to look for can be found in a sample of the inspector’s report or
in communicating with them. With the report, is it presented in clearly written, easy-to-understand English?
With the inspector, is the person clear, easy to understand, and comfortable
to talk to? The
report should include all of the independent parts of the house. (see NARIES
Standards of Practice) Each part
should be presented with findings and conclusions that are easy to
understand. Any recommendations should be simple, and may often refer you to
other professionals, specialists and technicians who are more qualified in a
particular field. Look for these things in your report later.
- Does the inspector have formal training? The inspector could have been
formally trained over a period of time in a classroom setting and in the
field. Others have been trained through correspondence and self-help
seminars including field training. Some have on-the-job training. That is
good, but can also be a false credential. To properly inspect and
communicate, the individual should have some evidence they can do so. Having
worked in related fields does not assure you of this ability.
- Call and interview the inspector. They should be easy to communicate with,
and in a professional and business like manner. Mature and conscientious
inspectors give you the feeling of genuine empathy and are sincerely
interested in you getting the most for your money. You are paying for
quality inspecting and communication, orally and in writing.
- Ask if the inspector will take you along on the inspection, and are they
comfortable with your presence, at least for part of the time. The inspector
should explain everything either during the inspection or afterwards. All of
the inspector’s time should be yours for this part.
- Inspection experience is important, and so is other work in related
fields, but the most important points are communication, and the care taken
in preparing a report. This can be properly done either during the inspection, through
the use of a preprinted form, or as a written narrative report prepared
later on a
computer. On-site reports are more than adequate for many home
inspections, but for more elaborate explanations, a full narrative report
with more detailed reviews, are best
for a clear understanding with selective recommendations. If this is what you
purchased, the written narrative inspection report is better prepared within 24 hours
or more of midnight of the day
of the inspection, . The "report" is
the "product" you are paying for. So, get one which is carefully written
and easy-to-understand, either using a organized form done on site, or a full narrative style of
report prepared later.
- Shopping by price is usually a disaster. Search for the most qualified
inspector you feel most comfortable with, and pay the requested price. This
is probably the most important and largest purchase of your life. Do not
blow it using less than the best because of price. Good business like
inspectors know what
they are worth and so should you.
- Meet the inspector at the house. Do not worry,
everything you discuss and take a note about (and more) will be seen in the
report. The report, or any notes you may take, help you think in advance about work orders you may
include in the purchase.
- Membership in an association is a good point, but not any assurance of the
quality of the inspector or their inspection. None of the associations have
a disciplinary board to police their members. They do of course look into
complaints, but basically are hindered by law from doing much more then
reviewing complaints with the Inspector. Some associations have entry training
requirements, but this does not assure you of the quality of services.
However, most of the associations require their members to agree to follow their
Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Otherwise they are not allowed to
be members of the association. You should be able to get a copy of these
before the inspection if you like. Just remember, that all of the titles and memberships
have merit, but nothing to do with the ability to personally communicate, and the
integrity of the home inspector.
a. Did you like reading the sample report, or communicating with the Home
you like the inspector?
c. Does the conversation seem business like and
d. Are you comfortable?
Michael W. Pederson is a Washington state licensed Architect
who has been providing Building Inspection Services since 1986, training Home
Inspectors since 1993, and is President and Founder of NARIESä
, the National Association of Real-estate Inspection and Evaluation Services.
This membership is open to Building and Home Inspectors, Appraisers, related
Real Estate professionals, and the public. Executive members are trained and
professionally qualified Building Inspectors.