Questions one "COULD" ask---to find a "better-than-the-average-bear" inspector:
•1. Do you own and use a 32 foot (or longer) ladder? A negative response would mean they generally don't get on 3 story townhouse roofs---or they have it hung up on the side of their garage and enjoy remembering how they used to climb the darn thing. Or perhaps they are simply working to Inspection Association SOP's.
•2. Do you own and use "corkers?" (spiked shoes for walking on wood roofs)? A negative response to this would mean they don't walk on wood roofs---or don't know what a wood roof is. If they tell you they don't drink wine---this is NOT a good sign.
•3. Do you go in crawl spaces if there is no ground cover (plastic)? A negative response to this might mean they are a little timid or easily intimidated by "nastiness"---sorry it is just part of the job.
•4. Do you go in a crawl space with less than 18" of clearance? An adverse response to this might mean they are total wusses, or perhaps need to join the local gym.
•5. Do you take off the cover of the Electrical Panel (including all sub-panels---technically called "remote distribution panels")? A negative response to this would mean they are neglecting one of the most significant safety checks that we do as inspectors. Alternate question: Do you know what a Remote Distribution panel is? A negative response to this would mean they are not up on the latest electrical terminology.
•6. Do you use a pressure gauge on all outside faucets? A negative response to this would mean that they cannot verify that the valve is not broken/leaking inside the wall.
•7. Do you enter accessible attics? See 8
•8. Do you verify that there are insulation baffles around b-vents? An adverse response to this might be an indication that they do not enter attics (see 8).
•9. Do you go in crawl spaces that have water in them if you can get around the water? See the first half of 4.
•10. Do you use the Internet for research? A negative response to this question would be a truely auspicious sign.
•11. Do you "routinely" check the floor around toilets with a moisture meter? A negative response to this might show a willingness to provide less than "careful" service---and again, afraid of "nastiness." Alternate question: Do you use a moisture meter? A negative response to this might be indicative of the inspector being too cheap to provide this level of thoroughness.
•12. Do you use a narrative type report---with photos? Check-list type reports are not relevant in a home inspection if the buyer is interested in learning anything about the house. (I hope I haven't revealed my personal bias here)•13. Do you do more than one inspection a day? While there may be instances where an inspector is able to do more than one inspection a day, there will always be the concern that the inspector is making part of the first inspection be the fact that he or she has to be at the next one---thus not being totally present at the first one. (I hate being in two places at once!)
•14. Do you run around the house and check to see if there is heat coming out all of the registers while the furnace is running? A negative response to this might be indicative of the inspector being in too much of a hurry. (This question is courtesy of King of the House)
•15. Do you check to make sure the gas piping is electrically bonded? A negative response to this question hopefully does not mean the inspector doesn't know what that means. (This question is courtesy of King of the House)
This is a "basic" and arbitrary list of questions that one can ask a home inspector to get a sense of what the inspector is all about. While there will always be exceptions to how these questions can be answered, a negative response to more than 3 or 4 of the questions might warrant some concern as to what you would be getting from the inspector.
Of course the "ultimate qualifier"----Do you inspect when there is Activerain?
PS, for those of you that are new to my blog (or for some other "unexplained" reason have never noticed) all pictures and smiley-face inserts (emoticons) have messages that show up when you point at them with your cursor.
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board