How to Hire a Home Inspector in Massachusetts

July 31 2014

We’re all pretty savvy by the time we get to be adults. But we still need advice from time to time, especially about topics such as choosing a home inspector. The obvious is important: Referrals from friends (not your realtor) is a good place to start.

What questions are important to ask a home inspector, on the interview?

Let’s start:

  • Okay, so Tom the Home Inspector has a proper license and he’s been in business “since the 2001 inception of the home inspector regulation in Massachusetts.” That’s what Tom should be trumpeting on his website. Is Tom a member of a respected professional group like the National Association of Home Inspectors or the American Society of Home Inspectors? Check!
  • Even though Tom seems so genuine by the way he writes on his website, verify his license on this Massachusetts website, here. You can also see if any disciplinary actions have been taken against Tom on this site as well.
  • Still with Tom? Alright, next up: the phone interview. Take note of how much time he gives you. You should rightfully have a lot of questions during the inspection and his attention on the phone might indicate what he’ll be giving you on the home inspection.
  • On the phone, describe the house he might be inspecting. Give as much detail, good and bad, as possible. Since his fee will come from the size of the house, tell Tom exactly how much square footage, how many bedrooms, bathrooms, everything. He may want to see a copy of the listing sheet. Note: If there’s an older roof, tell him. Did you detect mildew in the cellar laundry area? Let that be known. It does no good to “test” Tom with this information on the inspection. Your best bet is to get him thinking so that he knows what to look for. Who knows, maybe you could be wrong and he could set your mind at ease.
  • An important question that needs the right answer: Where did Tom receive his formal training? Your best bet is to hire a star student who has completed his education through a college course that specializes in the field of home inspection. Your first concern during this process, over everything, is Tom’s competency. Ask about what other construction-related licenses or certifications Tom has earned, and ask to see his resume. What insurances does he carry?
  • If a friend “knows a builder who’s great at home inspections,” know that you’re much better off hiring a person who has studied this field and carries a professional license. Who knows exactly how much information the builder knows? Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Good news! You’re super happy with the results of your phone interview and Tom gets hired. Tom has gone the extra mile to make you feel at ease, and you like that he has a background in heating, since the boiler at the house is promising to be complicated.
  • At the house: The inspection should take around three hours, sometimes longer. It’s something that should not be rushed. By the way, if Tom prides himself on “quick home inspections,” forget Tom. You’re better off with an inspector who prides himself on long inspections. And if you can, ask your realtor friend (not your realtor!) about Tom. Do other agents “hate” Tom? That means Tom finds every last persnickety detail about houses. You get a gold star for hiring Tom.
  • The inspection went smoothly. Now for The Report. It takes at least 24 hours for the home inspector to offer his report. The last thing you want is an inspector who hands over a flimsy checklist at the end of the inspection. No sir! You want to wait on this. The report needs to have photos, clear descriptions.
  • And if Tom suddenly offers his services to help you fix something on the house, uh-oh. Tom isn’t the good apple we thought. But our Tom wouldn’t do that. He’s a straight arrow and he offers you a beautifully written report that worries your real estate agent and dazzles you, because that’s what counts.

 

 

 

 

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