How to Choose a Home Inspector

How to Choose a Home Inspector

 

The truth about home inspectors in California

 
Hi, I'm Gary DeWitt, founder of DeWitt inspections. I'm here to help you choose the best inspector to help protect your interests. This is likely the largest transaction you will ever be involved in, you want to do it right the first time. It's worthwhile to do a little homework and choose the right inspector. You've already taken a step in the right direction by watching this video.
 
I could tell you my qualifications, but all of that is easy to find on our website. I want to make sure you are armed with the information you need, no matter which inspector you choose to work with.
 
First, let's talk a bit about you and your priorities.
You're here because you know getting an inspection is a smart move. Buying a house can be stressful, the same is true of the inspection process. Maybe you really don't want the inspection so much as you want the result, knowledge and peace of mind. You want to make sure you've made the right choice in the house you've picked out. Like going to the dentist, you're far more interested in the result than you are in the process!
I hope you will choose your inspector the same way you chose your doctor or dentist. You asked around, maybe checked qualifications. You might have looked at online reviews. The professional fee was your lowest priority.
 
Let's talk for a moment about licenses and certifications. Most people are surprised when I tell them an inspector in California does not need to be licensed or certified to perform property inspections. In fact, anyone can perform a home inspection. The state does not regulate the home inspection industry the way it does contractors or Real Estate agents. This means it's up to you to check out inspectors and find the right one for you. One of the ways you can separate a good inspector from the rest is certification. It's important to know what organizations the candidate is certified by, and it's pretty simple. There are two organizations that require tough, proctored testing and strict peer review, the California Real Estate Inspection Association and the American Society of Home Inspectors.
 
Interview some inspectors on the phone. If they don't have time for your questions now, how will they have time for you later?
 
First and foremost, the home must be safe for you and your family to live in. Does the inspector you are interviewing seem to be interested in your safety? Ask the inspector if he goes above and beyond his standards of practice to report on safety issues.
 
Ask how long the inspection will take. It depends on the house. This is your ONE CHANCE to get the info you need for an informed decision, so you don't want to rush through it. A thorough inspector will spend roughly 1 1/2 hours per thousand square feet. More for a house with accessible attic and crawlspace, extra time for a pool or spa. Less for a condominium or townhouse because some of the exterior is common area and excluded.  The age of the house matters too. The older the house, the more time it's owner's have had to mess with it! Older houses that have been "completely remodeled" can be particularly difficult. All that new plaster and paint can cover up the houses' past and the inspector must rely on very subtle clues.
 
Can you review the inspectors work, look at sample reports? I know, long and boring, right? Try this - focus on one area or system of the house, like plumbing, roof, structure. Pick an area you have a concern with. Then review just that section of a few reports. Is it written in plain english, in a way that helps you understand what is going on and how severe the problem is? Are there pictures to help clarify and locate the problem? Does the report convey enough information to let a specialist know what's going on just from reviewing the report?
 
Does the inspector have insurance? Top notch inspectors, just like doctors and dentists,  carry Errors and Omissions and Liability insurance to help protect everyone in the transaction. Cheap inspectors don't. 
 
Does the inspector mind if you follow him around and ask questions? You can learn more about your new home and how to keep it in good shape from an inspector than from anywhere else. A good inspector will want you there, at least to do a walkthrough at the end. It's critical to a thorough understanding of the house.
 
Is this a one-person shop, an impersonal multi-inspector company or a huge national conglomerate? You want personalized service from someone who cares. One multi-inspector company in California actually has a full time lawyer on staff just to handle the complaints!
 
Will the inspector be there for you when you need him in the future? In the last few years, many cut-rate inspectors in Southern California have gone out of business. What happens to their past clients if something goes wrong with the house? A home inspection is not a garantee, but a good inspector stands behind his work and is there to help if possible.
 
I hope you've found this informative and helpful. If you have any questions or would like to get to know me better, please give me a call.
 
It's my mission to do my best to help you choose a safe, properly functioning home. 
Thanks for watching, and good luck.