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How hard can it be to find a good Home Inspector?

     Being a home inspector, one would think that it would not be difficult for me to advise my son and his wife as to how to find a good one.

     From three thousand miles away I have found that it is VERY difficult.

The Home Inspector at work?     Of course the recommendations from their agent are a good place to start----but what criteria do they use for picking one of those recommendations?  And if they go outside of that list what criteria do they use?

     Another source of information might be from their friends that have used a particular inspector.

     Being an inspector I am able to “read between the lines” of the information inspectors might provide about themselves on line-----buyers are not likely going to be able to do that.

     And then there are all the “INITIALS!”  How the heck are they supposed to wade through all the hype, marketing, and (in some cases) just plain malarkey of the Home Inspector Associations.  There are ASHI, InterNACHI, NAHI, AHI, AII, NIBI-----and that doesn’t even get into all the individual State Associations.

     Disclaimer:  The following comments about the process of finding an inspector for my son and his wife was a less than perfect undertaking and the conclusions/opinions I am going to make in no way reflect the way I think the process should work, and perhaps should serve as a warning ahead of time to anyone who’s panties gets all in a bunch:)

    1. Use Google:  If a person can’t find an inspector in the area they are buying in, on Google, one has to question how up to date they might be in other areas of their business.  I know this is a harsh reality----but it is the way modern consumers find information.

     2.  Use Home Inspector Association’s “FIND AN INSPECTOR” functions: BUT USE THEM ALL.  Be very careful about “believing” what any one Association tells you about why they are the best.  The reality is that there are great inspectors in all of the Associations.

     3.  Does the inspector have a website?  To reiterate #1, they not only have to have a website it must be:  easy to navigate and have the information you are looking for----EFFORTLESSLY.  Is the website just trying to look spiffy or is it creating the opportunity for the buyer to contact them?

     a. Phone number (206 478-7371) should be prominently displayed.  Avoid forms designed for consumers to fill out to have information sent to them-----99% of the time they will leave and find an inspector that doesn’t make them work for the information.

     b. Sample report must be there.  When I was doing my search recently for inspectors on one of the Association lists, there were 24 inspectors listed for the area I was interested in.  5 had no websites at all----these inspectors may be the best inspectors in the world but if I can’t check them out previous to calling them----they just plain are not going to get the call.  Only 3 had sample reports and two were so “bad” that it really only left one that I would even consider calling.  1 out of 24 is not very good odds.  I really think that reports on websites are perhaps the best way for consumers to get a sense of what the inspector is going to be doing for them.  Is the report just a check list with tons of information that doesn’t pertain to the home?  Are there photographs and diagrams to help explain what is going on?  Does the report educate as well as inform?  Is the report 5 pages or 50 pages?  Are there 5 pages of report and 10 pages of disclaimers?  Also, NEVER make someone fill out a form to see a Sample Report.  Again many will just hit the back button and move on to the next inspector on the list.

     c. The Website should not take forever to load because it has a bunch of video or moving parts.

     d. How good the website looks should not be more important than the information it is supposed to be conveying.

     e. NEVER----be “Under Construction.”  What this actually says is, “I have not got my shit together yet---please forgive me because I am a Newbie.”  Do you really want to convey that you are not ready yet?  It is better to not have anything come up at all.

     4.  Avoid multi-inspector franchises unless you REALLY know what you are doing.  I know I will get some flak for this one----but please re-read the disclaimer above.  We are talking about consumers that know nothing about buying a house and are trying to find an inspector based on the information available on-line.  While “theoretically” the consumer should be getting the same great service that they would if the boss of the operation was doing the inspection, it is my experience that this is rarely the case.  It is a good idea to look for an inspector that is in no hurry to get to the next inspection.  Most franchises operate successfully due to volume.  Is it possible to get a good inspection from a franchise inspection firm?  Of course----I am just trying to “streamline” the process a bit for the average buyer----it is difficult enough as it is.

     5.  Find a GREAT agent!  Again---let the arrows fly----this is reality TV here and that reality says that most buyers are going to listen to the recommendations of their agent as to an inspector to use.  I would go so far as to say it is less risky than doing ones own individual search for an inspector.  So from this point of view the key to finding a good inspector would first involve doing ones homework well enough to find an agent that one totally trusts.  The BEST agents have one thing in mind----seeing to it that their buyers are taken care of in the best possible way.  Finding such an agent is 50% of the battle of finding a good inspector.  You then merely have to find one on that list that is the best fit for you.  While some argue that this is an inherent conflict of interest, I would argue that, given the current dilemma the consumer has in finding a good inspector by other means, that it is still a viable option.  I find it ludicrous to think that I would ever compromise the inspection process for a few hundred bucks and the “anticipation” of future referrals.  I hear that this happens but I would expect it to be pretty rare----and a sign that one did not do a very good job of choosing ones agent.

     6.  Does the person that is going to be doing the inspection answer the phone?

 

Charles Buell

 

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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Comment balloon 35 commentsCharles Buell • May 08 2009 09:28AM

Comments

Charles - Looks like great advice for finding an inspector.  Of course you forgot: "If you live anywhere near me, don't bother looking.  I'm good."  Haha.  Have a questions for you, would you be willing to let me use your photo of you under the house for a blog post I'm working on?  If so, do you have a good sized version of it?  I'm working on an inspection post and was already planning on mentioned your blog, so I thought the photo would be appropriate as well.

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) over 9 years ago

Why not go to a source who knows home inspectors and can recommend good ones, your buyers agent??

My buyers rely on me for home inspection recommendations and they are never disappointed.

It's the same company I use for my personal homes.

If the buyer doesn't have a buyer's agent, I would recommend ASHI. 

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I too am a bit leery of large franchises where you don't know which individual inspector you'll be getting.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 9 years ago

Thanks Matt----I have sent you a present via email:)

Lenn---in my post I believe I covered that:)

Brian---it can be hard to know what you are getting anyway---without adding another question to the equation.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles, a little advise if you do not mind, Because of the over whelming information they are asking what we do in a house inspection. Nobody will ask what you "do not inspect" in a home. Tell your son to ask the basic questions when calling around and the second to the last question, Ok, "I get everything you are going to do, so what are the things you do not inspection within the home". and of course the last question is price. The list of "I do not inspect" should to a lot short than "I do inspect". Then ask your son for the results, you'll be surprise on the answers. Many will not tell you, a till your at the inspection, by that time it is to late.

                                                                                       ~ Life is Good

 

Posted by Roy A. Peterson, P.R.E.I. (Domicile Analysis of Texas) over 9 years ago

I had a lawyer tell me that he liked one inspector because he was a seller's worst nightmare.  I prefer reasonable people.

Posted by Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker, Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA (http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com) over 9 years ago

Charles, These are the items I do not inspect, pool heaters, water softeners &
filtering systems, Humidifiers, Landscape lighting, Storage units, and  Water Fountains, other an that everything else is inspected and roof is physically traved.

 

Posted by Roy A. Peterson, P.R.E.I. (Domicile Analysis of Texas) over 9 years ago

That is alot of good advice to follow.  Only 1 out of 24-not good at all. 

Posted by Angelia Garcia (Pure Realtors) over 9 years ago

Roy the problem I have with the "list" type questions is that they still won't know what the report looks like and whether they can see through the report that the intent of the inspector is to educate and inform.

Heath---there really is no excuse for not being resonable:)

Angelia, thanks

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles,
Funny you should be mentioning this ... right now I am redoing my website. Actually my website and my husband's website. Guess who I'll be emailing for an opinion when I'm done :) ?

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

Charlie,

A website can say so much, yet so little. I have two real reports, only the names and addresses changed, at my site. I get a fair amount of work from people who like my report.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

3 e made me giggle a lot.  I had that conversation with my first web guru.  I was like No man it will Not display "under construction" it will be hidden until it is finished.  He agreed that was best but said most clients went the other way.  How stupid.

 

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 9 years ago

These are excellent points. Now most buyers ask us and we give them three names. Others, sheeesh where do they find the inspectors (beats me). Seriously though for many it is a name from a friend, or relative (whether they know if the inspector does a good job or not). ~Rita

Posted by Brian Burke, Broker & Advising Expert-Denver Luxury Real Estate (Kenna Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Charles, good blog and I liked the way you recommended me at the bottom as a good agent!!  Actually, your list was the same as I'd recommend for someone searching for a real estate agent in a strange town.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

Don't stone me for adding "Check with your gut feeling after the initial conversation", okay? Everyone has a gut feeling and if it's not yet developed, now is a good time. :) kate ford

Posted by Kate Kate over 9 years ago

Boy, I get busy, don't log on for a few days and look what happens - total regression to kindergarten...!

So, how did you find the inspector?  If/when my son needs one, I know where to go.  Well, at least in Seattle or Bellingham!

So, um, where are the coveralls?

By the way, my website is ALWAYS under construction, changing nearly every day, but I hope I have all my defecant together...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Charles - excellent post.  I completely agree with points 1-5... but I'm confused about point 6.  Are you saying that the person answering the phone should or shouldn't be the same person doing your inspection?  I've heard valid arguments for both sides of this. 

 Or are you just saying that the company you hire should answer their phone?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Charles,  I think this is the very first time in all your posts I've read that I agreed 100%.  There must be something wrong.  Seriously, excellent post, and not just because I agree.

 

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

By the way, did you put on some extra stuff for that picture or do you carry that (what looks to be) couple of hundred pounds during the whole inspection.  

I can't do crawls or roofs with little more than myself along.

 

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

have two real reports, only the names and addresses changed, at my site. I get a fair amount of work from people who like my report.

 

Home Inspection

Posted by Anonymous over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

You have not posted. You may be looking for a home inspector, I am looking for a buddy to hand with in Seattle. Come back.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Hey Charlie - I'm catching up on commenting after being gone a few days. I guess I can relate to this post.  I think the list of inspectors on my website include ones who have even been recommended to my past clients by attorneys.  I think I would give that more merit than asking friends who may have only experienced one real estate transaction in their lifetime. I also, will take people off my list of real estate partners as soon as I have a complaint and reason to justify it. The inspector who Ireally like to use is the one who provides me with a disc so I can download the report AND I like knowing they have invested in special equipment to detect moisture & mold.  Most of all, the inspector and attorney should be able to work together too, because as a team we must all advocate for the buyer.  One more thing, upstate NY is very behind the times when it comes to iinnovativetechniques like website design and marketing.  I found this crazy when I moved here 10 years ago from the Midwest and discovered that some local real estate agencies were still not marketing online.         

Posted by Carol Culkin, Overland Park (Reece & Nichols) over 9 years ago

Sometimes I answer my own phone (when I'm in the office), and sometimes my lovely assisitant (my wife) answers (and does a wonderful job, I might add). Either of us can answer most any question, and the ones she can't answer, she will have me call them back.

So, I was just wondering, Charles, where the relevance lies with your #6 question "Does the person that is going to be doing the inspection answer the phone?"  Are you suggesting that if you don't get the inspector on the phone you should hang up, or find someone else?

Posted by Kevin Corsa, H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector (H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)) over 9 years ago

I apologize for not getting back to everyone---but I have been a
bit under the weather----finally able to get off the couch for a few
minutes
:)

Suesan, love to see it.

Steve, like you I often have clients tell me that it is the report that pushes them toward chosing me over others they are looking at.

Tammy, when I started looking around I just coundn't believe how many were under construction.

Barbara, I thought about that as I was writing it that the principles would apply to agents too perhaps.  And of course I recommened you at the bottom:)

Kate, if one has a reliable gut feeling----go for it:)

Jay, I switched from coveralls to underroos.  Of course our sites are always under construction in the sense that we are changing them all the time.  I am just talking about type where all a person sees when they open the site is "UNDER CONSTRUCTION"

Reuben, as long as the caller gets the information they need it might not matter too much, but when it comes to the time of the inspection the inspector has no clue what the buyer is asking him regarding conversations they had with whoever took the call I feel that is a good disconnect to avoid.

Jack, thanks

Carol, a list like you provide is a great place for buyers to start and I think it is true that any such list from an agent cab represent years of "filtering" in terms of feedback from many buyers.  I think those on lists like that need to have their reports on there so that buyers looking at the list having something concrete to look at in making their selection.  I agree with you too that NY State inspectors seem a little behind the times regarding their websites too:)

Kevin, see my response to Reuben above.  I am just trying to minimize the disconnect that can happen between whoever answers the phone and who does the inspection---if they are different.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles, I laughed so many times while reading this.  My husband is a licensed home inspector in the state of Oklahoma BUt because I am a broker, he does vey few... but your blog rang true so many times that it was joy to read. 

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) over 9 years ago

Judi, so glad you enjoyed it:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Did my keyboard transmit the flu? I wondered it you were sick. Hope you're feeling better. kate ford

Posted by Kate Kate over 9 years ago

Kate, of COURSE it is your fault:) Actually I am slowly feeling better----finally able to sit at the computer long enough to post something:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I'll try to be more considerate next time. WAIT! No more flu! Get better soon. kate ford

Posted by Kate Kate over 9 years ago

I know - I was lumping myself in with the lazoids...  A lazoid I am not...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Kate, I am pretty much better thanks.

Jay, lazoid sounds more like something I would associate with Croakster.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I am a member of the American Home Inspector Directory. We pay an annual membership fee and the owners do check that we are current with our State and association license's.

Posted by John about 8 years ago
Do you know any excellent inspectors in Portland, OR, perhaps?
Posted by Pamela over 6 years ago

Pamela, call Jim Katen or Susan Walker

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Do you know any excellent inspectors in Stockton, Ca?Thank you,Ms.MichaelI asked for 3 quotes from ASHI cert. Inspectors. One didnt get back to me, one I found is franchised, (great in advertised area, but seem iffy in my area), and the third said hed throw in the pest inspection for free, isnt the pest inspection part of the inspection to begin with??? Help, Please????

Posted by S. Michael over 1 year ago

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