Important Questions to ask a Potential Home Inspector

Buying a home is often the most expensive purchase that people make. For such a momentous acquisition it is surprising how often there is little time and effort that goes into selecting the home inspector.

In Maine potential buyers will rely on their broker to advise them on whom to use. That can be a starting point, but it should not be the most important factor in making the inspector decision. Remember, the buying and selling agents make the same commission which can be a conflict of interest for the buying broker when helping the potential buyer make an inspector decision. Use the internet and referrals from neighbors and friends to gather a pool of potential inspectors.

There are many brokers that put looking out for their clients as their number one priority. There are others that are more interested in making a sale. There are brokers that refer inspectors that won’t “blow the deal”. What this means is that the inspector will overlook problems or down play things that should be brought to the buyer’s attention. The goal of these inspectors is to help the sale so that they can get the buying broker’s referral on future homes.

The honest brokers that are working for the buyer and not themselves want the buyer to get a complete report so that they can proceed with a purchase that will not be a problem in the future. As one of these quality brokers told me, “An inspection may block one sale, but it won’t stop the purchase of the house that is the right one for the buyer. I would rather have a buyer not buy a home then regret it later on. I want them to buy the home that is right for them.”

More times than I want to write about, while I am doing an energy evaluation of a new home I will point out big problems in the home that I encounter. These have ranged from completely rusted steel lally support columns in the basement, exposed live electrical wires, to serious cracks in the chimney and foundation. When I mention these problems the owners seem shocked and ask why their inspector didn’t mention it.

For this reason I recommend that buyers ask their potential inspector and their listing broker the following questions:

Ask the inspector the following questions:

  • Show me a sample report of your work.
  • Are you licensed by the state to do heating system evaluations?
  • What advanced technology do you use?
  • Do you use an ultrasound machine to test the thickness of the fuel oil storage tanks?
  • Do you use an infrared camera as part of the inspection?
  • What is the accuracy of your radon testing equipment?
  • Do you have energy analysis certification?
  • Have you ever had a claim filed against you? What was the outcome of that claim? 

Ask your broker these questions:

  • Can you guarantee that the home inspector you are recommending has not had a claim that was made against him/her in the last 5 years? What was the result of that claim?
  • Have any of your clients called to complain about your home inspector referral after the sale? If so, what was the problem and when was it noticed?

Getting the answers to these questions will greatly reduce the chances of having expensive problems to fix that were not mentioned by an unsatisfactory home inspector.

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