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What to Look for When Choosing a Home Inspector

What to Look for When Choosing a Home Inspector feature

Qualities of a trusted home inspection specialist

According to a 2018 survey by ME bank, 58% of Australian home buyers spend less than an hour inspecting a house on the market. They probably spend more time browsing through their phones or watching TV than scrutinising the most significant purchase of their lifetime.

Building and pest inspections are a crucial step when purchasing any type of property. It reveals hidden cracks – literally – that reflect the true condition of a home.

Because of its vital role in the real estate business, a home inspection should be done by qualified professionals.

Choosing the right building inspector is vital because if potential errors go undetected, the long-term costs could be detrimental to the homeowner.

Here are ten things a home buyer should look for when hiring a home inspector.

The inspector must be an expert in the type of inspection required

1. The inspector must be an expert in the type of inspection required.

Not all inspectors have the same skill. For example, a pre-purchase building inspector is knowledgeable in building structures, while pest inspectors are experts at pest tracking and analysis.

Finding the right person for the job ensures that there are no surprises down the line.

2. The inspector must hold professional indemnity insurance.

Professional indemnity insurance protects the client against financial damage. Unfortunately, not all states in Australia require home inspectors to get insurance. This is why buyers should be careful when hiring a building inspection company. Insurance covers any financial loss resulting from bad judgment by the inspector.

3. Ask for certification.

Be sure to ask if the home inspector has timber pest certification. A certified home inspector has passed several inspection courses and follows a code of ethics. They also undergo annual training to update their skills.

4. Look for the right kind of experience.

Part of due diligence is checking how many years of experience the inspector has in this industry. A qualified home inspector has a long track record of working with all kinds of houses and is familiar with a broad range of building issues.

If the property is an old house, hire a home inspector who has handled similar structures. An inspector who is also an architect or engineer might be able to make a more thorough assessment of a vintage home.

5. Don’t go for the real estate agent’s pick.

Real estate agents will always recommend a building inspector when trying to close a sale. However, this is a bad idea as there is clearly a conflict of interest.

The realtor wants to sell the home, while the inspector wants to get paid for assessing the property and delivering the report. If the assessment takes too long or reveals many issues, it could create friction between the inspector and the realtor.

It is always advisable to hire an independent home inspector to get a truly objective report that will reflect the real condition of the property.

6. Ask what the inspection will cover.

Before hiring a home inspector, find out what is included in the inspection service and how long it will take.

A reliable home inspector will cover every component of the house, including:

  • Foundation and basement
  • Electrical system
  • Plumbing system and water pressure
  • HVAC system
  • Structural integrity
  • Roof integrity – missing tiles, rust, holes, condition of the attic
  • Water penetration and grading
  • Thorough pest inspection
  • Environmental hazards such as asbestos, radon, and lead paint
  • Cracks in the wall
  • Mould and leak stains
  • Cavity dampness
  • Rusting framework
  • Low hanging trees, rotting trees, root travel
  • Verandas, gates, windows
  • Structure of garden beds and retaining walls

A typical home inspection takes two to three hours to complete. The job may take longer depending on the size and age of the property.

7. Ask for a sample report.

To get an idea of what to expect from a home inspector, ask for a sample of their report. From these documents, it’s easy to differentiate those offering detailed observations from those making generic recommendations that lack in-depth analysis.

An average home inspection report contains a few dozen pages with detailed descriptions of each component of the house together with vivid photos. Even better, find an inspector that publishes its reports online along with a video of the actual work.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors or InterNACHI® provides some report samples for gauging an inspector’s output.

8. Verify if the company only inspects homes.

Many inspection companies also do home repairs and renovations. The problem here is that they are likely to report issues that might not be necessary just to upsell their other services.

A home inspector who is in the business of building inspections exclusively will remain objective as there is no need to cross-sell other services.

9. Ask for referrals.

As with any other service provider, home inspectors should be able to provide at least 10 referrals from past clients. Whether old or recent, these referrals can help buyers assess if hidden defects are found several years later.

Find out how many previous clients have complained about the company and investigate whether the building inspector has a prior conviction for a poor inspection.

10. Compare several inspectors.

As with any purchase, the best home inspection is one that you have thoroughly vetted and compared with its rivals. Shop around and go through several candidates to find out what the market average is for price, experience, and quality of service.

Don’t hire a middling home inspector

Don’t hire a middling home inspector.

For many Australians, their house is the biggest investment they will ever make in their lifetime. Therefore, it is only prudent to invest time and effort in finding the right home inspector before buying a home.

If you’re in the market for a new home, look for a qualified and experienced home inspector with a solid track record like Vital Building and Pest Inspections.

Vital Building and Pest Inspections is one of the most trusted building and pest inspection companies in Sydney. Our inspectors are independent of any real estate agent, and we take pride in providing comprehensive inspection services backed by professional indemnity insurance. Call us today on 0401 012 074 to book an appointment.

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