A home inspection is a non-invasive review of a home’s existing condition. Often done in connection when selling a home, during transfer of ownership of a new unit, or after renovation. Home inspections are conducted by a certified inspector and will prepare a written report of their findings. Oftentimes physical markings (usually post-it notes) will also be made to indicate areas in the report for easy reference.
- Certifications & Experience - Both are important to ascertain if the company is up to the job, and it is equally important to check the credentials of who will be inspecting. Oftentimes when demand is overloaded, vendors tend to send junior/new staff down, and that should not be the case. If they’re sending a junior/new hire, an experienced inspector must always be accompanying.
- Potential conflict of interest - Vendors providing such services will come from relevant industry and oftentimes are owners of companies providing similar or complementary services (e.g. interior design). If the company doing your renovation has a link to the one doing the inspection, then a conflict of interest will arise and there is no guarantee of the outcome. Do thorough research and get a written confirmation if required. Use tools like our Vendor Risk Profile tool to easily check this.
- Communication skills & Sample reports - A good approach to determine how thorough an inspector will be and how well it is communicated is to look at past inspection reports they’ve done. Ask not 1 but at least 2 reports that were completed recently to compare, this way you can check on the consistency as well. Also, pick out a problem in the report and have them explain to you. Focus if they can explain it clearly and objective they are in helping the owner address that finding.
- Thoroughness and oversight liability - If a home inspector's liability stops at inspection cost, then if they miss a major issue, repair cost will have to be borne by you. To make sure you'll be protected by any oversight, make sure the inspector’s contract will have a clause covering "Errors and Omissions" coverage or any insurance they have to cover such a scenario.
- Process of inspection and how long it’ll take - Inspection is not a one-time process nor is it short, it’ll take a few rounds at various stages (e.g. before and after defect identification and fixes) and can be quite lengthy. Ask the vendors to share their approach and make sure you’ll be included at each stage of the process and it is logical.
- Inscope and exclusion items - Not everything will be included in their review (e.g. exterior features) and is a must to get those clarified. Some inspectors will add free services while others will charge extra for those services. If they cannot cover them, ask how to find out the conditions of such items. This will be a good gauge of how experienced and cooperative they are.
- Invisible items (eg. behind the Walls or floor) - Issues hidden behind walls or floor coverings are very costly to repair if the inspectors won't or can’t notice these problems. If a vendor’s inspection service is non-invasive and doesn't extend beyond the finished surface, homeowners need to know to protect themselves from such risks. Ask the vendor how can help you in such a scenario and it is a good gauge they’re there to support you and have homeowners in their interest.
Ask questions - Make sure that the inspector is familiar with the type of home you need to get inspected. Houses vary in age, designs, and materials used and it’s especially important to understand any special risks or signs you need to be aware of.