Your decision to purchase a home is an exciting time, and should not be taken for granted. There are many choices for home inspection representation available, but not all companies are created equal.
Here are some questions that we recommend you ask any inspection company that you are considering to represent your interests during this critical time, and find the right representative who will work for you:
This is the single most important question to ask of your inspector.
The home inspection trade is a highly regulated, professionally licensed trade. Inspectors are required to maintain their licenses in good standing in order to work as inspectors.
There are fines and penalties imposed on individuals that are caught working without the proper licensing, not to mention that the documentation created by an unlicensed individual posing as a home inspector does not carry any legal weight.
Simply put, any individual or company who is working as a home inspector without the proper licensing and training, is defrauding their clients.
Do your due diligence, and ensure that the money that you are putting out to have your prospective home inspected is being spent with a company who will properly represent your interests, and provide you the inspection that you are legally entitled to!
Verification is as simple as asking for your inspector's name (first and last), and inputting that information in the search fields provided for by the state in which you reside.
For the convenience of Washington and Oregon residents (or future residents!), we have provided links to both of these states' inspector license search pages below!
Some loan types will require that a pest and dry rot inspection to be performed, as a part of the mortgage lending process.
The requirements for individuals and companies performing pest and dry rot (P&D)inspections vary from state to state.
Oregon permits P&D reporting to be performed by individuals, who carry a valid home inspector license, but lenders may still require inspection and reporting to be performed by individuals who are licensed through the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
More information for Oregon clients can be found HERE.
Oregon does not have a license specifically for WDO inspectors, and has made allowances for the evaluation and reporting on P&D reporting for licensed home inspectors.
Washington state requires an additional, separate license to be obtained by individuals before they can legally report on P&D infestation with any specificity.
Without this additional license, under the law, home inspectors must be vague in the reporting language, and defer P&D evaluations to a properly licensed professional.
More information for Washington clients can be found HERE.
Washington SPI license verification can be found HERE.
Washington's SPI license program is administered by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and as such, inspectors who carry this additional license are able to fill out the federal form NMPA-33, if your lender requires such documentation.
Mold is not categorized as a wood destroying organism, so such evaluations are exempt from any P&D licensing requirements, or statutes.
Get information from your lender about the type of documentation that they require before making the decision on who you will hire to perform your home inspection. If they require P&D reporting, and the inspector you hired is not licensed to report on P&D observations (if required), you will likely required by your lender to seek those additional services, lose valuable time, and incur additional costs!
The correct answer should be one that references the Standard of Practice (SOP) in the state which your home is located in.
While the language in every SOP varies from state to state, there is a common thread that joins them all, in that your entire home, from rooftop to crawlspace, is covered in some form or another.
You, as the consumer, are legally entitled to receive work performed under the SOP in your state, but there are exclusions and limitations written in the language of these requirements.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the SOP in your state ahead of time, so that you are fully informed, and can better protect yourself from opportunistic businesses!
Both Washington State and Oregon State SOP's have been linked below for your convenience:
Any company you are considering to represent you, and your interests, should provide you with a sample report upon request, without any hesitation or pushback.
The lack of an available sample report should be considered a red flag. This is the product that your hired representative will be producing for you, and you, the consumer, should be afforded the opportunity to decide whether or not that product will serve your interests.
Seeing an inspection company's report format in advance can also be an indicator of the quality of service, information, and documentation you can expect your representative to provide.
Be sure that their format is easy to read and easy to understand.
Your inspector should also be able to summarize their critical observations and findings in an abbreviated format. A summary report will allow you and your realtor to easily create repair addendums without having to comb through every single detail in the base report, allowing you to focus your negotiations on the critical items of concern, and be able to negotiate a better deal on the home.
Be very skeptical of companies that issue standard reports with a page count of less than 30 pages. We have seen competitor reports with as few as 18 pages (including title page, disclaimers, and invoicing)! While there may be scenarios where your home may be inspected to the requirements of the Standard of Practice (SOP) and properly documented in less than 30 pages, we find that this is simply not possible with most homes.
We have found that in order for our reports to be fully compliant with the SOP in both Oregon and Washington, our average report count for the typical 1,900 sq. ft. single family home, regardless of age, tends to be approximately 60 pages.
We have examples of our reports located HERE.
There is no correct answer to this question. The duration of your inspection is directly dependent on the size, age, and condition of the home. In general, inspections that fully satisfy the documentation requirements of the SOP should take approximately 2-3 hours (on average).
There are companies available who pride themselves on being able to complete inspections in an hour or less, but we believe that in doing so, these companies are more interested in making their next appointment than they are in representing their clients' interests.
Simply put, if an inspection company is focused on spending more time putting your report together than they are actually performing the inspection, that is not a ratio that usually works in the best interests of the client.
The primary job of the home inspector is to thoroughly vet the prospective property that their client is going to make a significant investment in. Companies that value speed over quality are simply rushing through the work.
Poor practices such as this increases the likelihood that obvious and potentially serious (or costly) defects will be overlooked and most of all, improperly reported. This will ultimately result in defects being discovered by the buyer, well after they have closed on the home.
The answer to this will vary from company to company, but an acceptable timeframe for submittal of the completed inspection report is generally within 1-2 days after your inspection has completed.
Due to the inspection software and document-as-we-go work procedures that we implement, we are able to provide our clients with inspection reports on the same day as their inspection, guaranteed!
Your inspector should have no objection to you following them during their inspection, as this is a great opportunity to educate yourself about the home you are considering purchasing.
Be aware though, that access to specific areas of the home may present environmental hazards, as well as safety/liability concerns (ie. roofs, attics, and crawlspaces), and as such, home buyers are not generally allowed to follow along during those specific phases of the home inspection.