How long have you been in business, and what is your background?
As stated above, some states do not require a license to become a home inspector. This is why it is essential to make sure that whomever you pick has an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and other areas of the industry. While years of experience can be important, someone that has only been an inspector for a few years, but has an extensive background in quality construction, might be just as qualified.
What types of homes do you usually inspect?
If you are purchasing a home built in the earlier part of the 1900s, it would be beneficial to find an inspector that has inspected a fair amount of historic homes. The same goes for new construction. Find an inspector that has inspected new construction builds in your area and knows what to expect from each local builder. Some builders are better than others, so having an inspector that knows the local builder landscape will be helpful as they should know what to be looking for before even setting foot in the home.
What do you look during the inspection?
Different home inspectors will charge different pricing, so be sure to understand what you are paying for. You will want to know if they look for code violations and safety issues, or if they also let you know about deferred maintenance issues and longevity of certain pieces in the home (furnace, roof, etc.).
Have you ever discovered illegal additions or illegal construction
You will want to know how they discover these types of issues and what their protocol is when finding something that was not constructed correctly or was not permitted. Un-permitted work can cause a significant problem with your lending process and insurance coverage, so make sure to verify that everything was added to the home correctly.
Can I attend the inspection
The answer to this question might vary based on your current COVID-19 requirements. If there is a safe way to do so, attending the inspection could be very beneficial for you to understand the current condition of the home, learn about issues they find, whether the problems are major or minor, and learn where essential items are in the home, etc. If you do attend, do not bring a crowd with you. It should just be one or two people at the most. If your inspector prefers to work on their own, ask if you can meet them for the last 20 minutes to walk through what they found or to show you essential pieces of the home. If the inspector is not comfortable with you attending, ask if they will spend some time with you on the phone reviewing the report so that you fully understand the major and minor issues of the home.
If you are actively searching for a home, it is best to start researching inspectors now so that you are well prepared when the time comes. Things will move quickly once your offer is accepted, so you need to be prepared to act fast. While most agents will refer you to a home inspector after you make an offer, and some might be great, you will still need to interview them and other inspectors, to ensure you find a highly qualified inspector that its right for you and home you are looking to buy.