Saturday, April 22, 2006

Home Inspector Credentials

Recommended Credentials for a Home Inspector
  • Pass the National Home Inspector Exam. This is the same exam used by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which is the oldest and most widely recognized organisation of home inspection professionals. It is currently the exam used by many states as part of their licensing requirements.
  • Inspect at least 250 homes and write reports for these inspections under the guidance or supervision of an experienced professional home inspector. This requirement, initially part of the NJ licensing requirements for home inspectors, and a requirement for admission as a full member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), has unfortunately been removed as a requirement in NJ under pressure from large companies that are in the business of selling home inspector business franchises. With this "apprenticeship" requirement in place, these companies found it impossible to effectively sell their franchises to "wannabe" home inspectors. This is a shame, since there is no substitute for experience working under the guidance of a experienced professional. In other professions, such as engineering, part of the licensing requirement is that the candidate be "in training" for a number of years. This is the same as being an intern in a hospital, where newly graduated MDs gain the necessary experience to confidently practice medicine.

Additional Credentials that Make the Home Inspector Even Better

  • Engineering training or better yet, a graduate degree in engineering.
  • A background in construction or construction related fields.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and accurately.

Red Flags in Home Inspector Credentials

  • Lack of experience doing home inspections. Any inspector with less than 1 year or 250 home inspections should be doing inspection under the supervision of an experienced professional home inspector.
  • Not a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The ASHI has strict professional and ethical requirements which protect the home buyer's interests.
  • Not insured for errors and omissions. Insurance is a requirement of most states that have license requirements. Lack of insurance may mean that the home inspector has a bad record and can no longer obtain coverage.
  • Home inspectors that advertise low ball prices. It is usually true that you get what you pay for. Home inspectors that charge fees that appear to be bargain prices may be doing this because they are inexperienced or unqualified and must charge less than the competition to get any business at all.
  • Home inspectors that have a business relationship with referring realtors. Inspectors that rely on realtors for most of their business may not be as objective as they should be when describing the condition of the home.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Home Inspection Cost

In New Jersey, where my company provides home inspections, the price for a home inspection for a typical home varies from as low as $199.00, to $1000.00, depending on the size and age of the home. There are additional costs for related home inspection services such as radon testing, termite inspections, septic system evaluation, and well water testing. A search for the presence of abandoned buried oil storage tanks is also often required, or a test of the integrity of the active buried oil tank may be advisable as well. The total costs can run up to $2000.oo or more. Are these costs worth it?

To answer the question of whether a home inspection and related inspections are worth the cost, consider a typical home that we recently inspected. This older home sold for approximately $675,000., and appeared to be in fine condition. Our inspection found the following defects or potential defects and hazards in this home:
  • The presence of original old brass water pipe that had enough internal corrosion so that pin-holes were present with micro leaks.
  • Two heating systems installed side by side, but only one was functional.
  • A hot water heater that was 18 years old...still functional, but not much longer.
  • Evidence of prior termite activity and damage to the main beam and floor joists.
  • Hazardous electrical panels and obsolete wiring.
  • Evidence of an abandoned buried oil tank.

We disclosed these defects and adverse conditions to the buyer in our detailed home inspection report. Cost estimates to cure all these defects came in at approximately $15,000. Based on our home inspection, the buyer instructed her attorney to request a price reduction of that amount. The sellers compromised by offering a $7500.00 price reduction.

Our fee for the home inspection services was $795.00. Do you think our home inspection fee was worth the money?