During your initial viewing of the home, you may have noticed the house leans a little like the Tower of Pisa. There is a science experiment growing in the shower on the second floor. A stunning web of cracks that look a lot like a colorless Jackson Pollock painting covers a wall in the family room. What you likely don't see is why the house is leaning and has cracks in the walls, or where the water is coming from causing the mold to fester in the bathroom.
Your home is one of the biggest purchases and investments you will make in a lifetime. One thing to not skimp on is the inspection. Whether this is your first, second or fiftieth (I hope no one has moved that many times), a home inspection will give you a glimpse into the health of your home. Unfortunately, not all home inspections are created equal. Here are a few tips and tidbits to help you find the right company for the task.
Inspectors must complete training and be licensed in the state in which you live (there are some states that do not require licenses, Indiana is not one of them). And, just like nurses, doctors, teachers, massage therapists, they have to attend continuing education courses. Here in Indiana, inspectors renew their licenses every two years.
Even before you hire an inspector, you should do your due diligence and research any potential company. One of the best ways to find an inspector is through word of mouth. Ask your friends, families, neighbors, potential new neighbors, your long-lost best friend's aunt. They will have the best first-hand information for you.
Once you have a few names, GTS, Google That Stuff! As we all know, Google is the go-to place to find out anything about anyone! Google will give the reviews - the good, the bad and the ugly. This will give you the opportunity to make an informed decision. Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Consumers' Checkbook are also extremely helpful sites to better educate yourself on reviews and complaints.
To establish the inspector is licensed, go to this website. Though the site is an Indiana government website, you can search for inspectors in the 5 state area (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan). You can do a general search for the area, or search by name. When you schedule your inspection, make sure you get the inspectors first and last names. Some inspectors may come from out of the general vicinity (for example, Indianapolis to Bloomington) so their name will not show up if you do a search for your city only. The search will tell you if your inspector has an active license on file in your state.
Get at least three quotes. When you call to get the quotes, ask questions! How long will the whole inspection take? How many inspectors will be at the inspection? How much does an inspection cost? How soon can you get on the schedule? Are you allowed to attend the inspection and ask questions? Is there a sample report you can access online? How soon after the inspection should you expect to receive the report? What happens if the inspector misses an issue?
FYI, a typical home inspection will take 2-3 hours and cost anywhere from $300 - $1000 depending on the size and location of the home and if any additional services are added to the inspection. And, every inspection company should carry general and professional liability insurance to cover any missed issues.
So, why go through all the trouble to find a reputable inspector. Imagine moving into your new home. Rearranging your furniture just so, painting the rooms, making small changes to your new abode. Now imagine you've been there a couple of weeks and you notice a foul smell. Your inspector did look in the crawl space, right? Actually got in on their hands and knees and crawled through the area? They didn't mention anything about dead bodies buried, but it sure smells like something is rotting. You make your way into the dark depths of your home where the ground is now wet and smelly. Using your heightened senses, because, let's face it, you are in a crawl space, you hear a drip, drip, drip. You sweep your flashlight in the direction of the sound and see a puddle under the stained pipe that is now leaking unwanted sewage into your crawl space.
Any inspector who takes pride in their work would have caught the small leak on the backside of that pipe during the inspection, which has now become a big pain in your backside.
How much does the contentment of knowing your home is safe and sound and ready for you to move in cost? A home inspection is a negligible cost compared to not getting an inspection. The best security for knowing you have a stable foundation is research, research and research some more. You often will get what you pay for.