If you're considering buying a house and an inspector identifies problems with it, this doesn't automatically mean you shouldn't buy it. The findings simply mean you now know what you're getting into. If the plumbing needs to be replaced in six months, at least you won't be surprised when it happens. If major problems like this are found, the seller may agree to make the repairs. Of course, no house is perfect. It's quite normal for a residence to have some glitches. It just depends on how many faults you're willing to deal with before you walk away from the sale.
Home inspections differ based on the person or organization conducting them. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), for example, is not required to check for wood-destroying organisms or diseases harmful to humans, including molds or moldlike substances. Many inspectors offer services to check for these things, although some will ask for an additional fee.
Besides having the right things covered in an inspection, you should also make sure you hire the right person for the job. Unfortunately, there's no surefire way to vet an inspector's complete history. However, there are a number of steps you can take to make an informed decision.
Consult your real estate attorney or ask friends, business acquaintances or professionals who understand the housing industry for a recommendation. If you already have someone in mind, ask the inspector for professional references and call the people on this list with specific questions about the inspector and the services provided. Before you hire someone, make sure you're comfortable with him or her first. Have a conversation ahead of time and review sample reports to make sure you can understand them.
ASHI recommends checking an inspector's qualifications, including his or her experience, training, professional affiliations and compliance with your state's regulations (if applicable). Besides ASHI, other reputable resources include the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI).
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- ASHI. Frequently Asked Questions on Home Inspections. http://www.ashi.org/customers/faq.asp#6. (April 16, 2009)
- Chereso, Lara. Account Supervisor with Gibbs & Soell Public Relations representing the American Society of Home Inspectors. Personal communication. April 20, 2009 and April 24, 2009.
- National Association of Certified Home Inspectors. "Definition and Scope." http://www.nachi.org/sop.htm. (April 24, 2009)
- National Association of Home Inspectors. "What Not to Expect" http://www.nahi.org/public/91.cfm. (April 24, 2009)
- Richardson, Bill. President of ASHI. Personal interview. April 20, 2009.