Important Points To Consider When Hiring A Home Inspector

1. Ask a trusted friend or associate that has had an inspection performed a year or so ago the following questions: After living in the house for a period of time, did the inspector's report reflect the true condition of the home? Would you hire that same inspector again?

2. Ask the inspector what he/she does not inspect. Many inspectors do not check important systems such as perimeter drainage. Will the inspector make some attempt to determine if a buried oil storage tank is on the property? Will he/she report to you any sightings of mold or asbestos in the home?

3. Is the inspector you talked to on the phone the one who will be doing the inspection? If someone else is responsible for this, what is their experience and certification?

4. What type of report will you receive? Don't accept checklist type reports without photographs. Checklist type reports alone only allow for short comments. This type of reporting only serves the interests of other parties. The two advantages of having photographs of a home's deficiencies are:
- Defects that were not reported to you in the Property Disclosure Statement completed by the vendor will be clearly evident. You will not have to argue with the selling realtor or vendor on the true condition of the house and property.
- If the realtor has over inflated the good condition of the home in the listing, the photographs will put you in a better negotiating position. After all, you based your offer on what you were told about the house. If you inspector finds something different, you should seek compensation.

5. Does the inspector check with the City/Municipality to see if they have any record of a buried oil storage tank on the property or if work has been performed that is unauthorized, e.g. illegal suites, decks, or additions. Know what you are buying. A new owner cannot blame the vendor for not taking permits out for work performed on the house. Once you buy it, you assume all liability.

6. Hire an inspector who is willing to certify his work. Having someone certify their work makes them legally accountable for the results of their work. As the home inspection business has not yet formed a universally accepted certification process, consumers should demand it. A simple clause in the contract you have with them might read as follows: "I hereby do certify that I am fully knowledgeable and capable of performing a professional home inspection service and that the written reports and photographs I prepare are in accordance with the Standards of Practice of the British Columbia Institute of Property Inspectors."

7. Many inspectors limit their liability for errors to a refund of the inspection fee you paid. In other words, if they miss a $30,000 deficiency, all you are going to get back is what you paid them to do the inspection. Some inspectors request an extra $600.00 if they are being asked to accept liability for anything more than a refund of the inspection fee, in other words to be held liable for that $30,000 mistake. In some cases that $600.00 is twice the cost of the inspection. You have to ask yourself where this $600.00 is going. Is the inspector asking you for this money because he has no insurance and needs to build up his own "emergency" fund? Run for the hills if you see this type of clause in an agreement. Inspectors have to accept some responsibility for their work, and should be carrying errors and omissions insurance.

8. Don't hire an inspector if his/her inspection agreement limits your legal recourse to arbitration only. In extreme cases, you may want to go to Court. Some inspection agreements go so far as to state that, if you are successful in reaching the Court level, you will have to pay for all the costs associated with the inspector defending himself.

9. Check the inspector's qualifications carefully. In order to receive what they term as certification, some inspection associations require only their inspectors to take an online exam. Be aware of limited or falsely presented qualifications. Some ads indicate that the inspector is a graduate of a particular training institute, when in fact they have only taken one or two courses. One or two home inspection courses at the B.C. Institute of Technology, coupled with renovation experience, may not always provide you with the most qualified home inspector. These are excellent courses, but they are just the starting point in a home inspector's training. With advances in building science and technology, your inspector should have at minimum a Building Technology Certificate, which represents at least one year of continuous training in courses directly related to home inspection, from either the B.C. Institute of Technology or Kwantlen University College. If you were going to have an operation, would you rather have a surgeon who had only completed a few courses on the relevant subject matter or one who has completed the required number of academic courses, for which their knowledge awarded them a degree? Look for a designation of CTech or AscT from the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of B.C. You should be suspect of those who suggest that they have been provincially certified. This is misleading advertising. There is no provincial certifying body. That is one of the major problems with the home inspection industry. The current government does not regulate or certify home inspectors, nor do they offer any training in the field.

10. If you intend to hire an inspector to sort out why your first inspector failed to report everything to you, ensure that the inspector has some legal training. Lawyers prefer to work with an inspector who knows how to best present your case in a manner that will win you compensation. It saves them time, which saves you money.

11. Some inspectors have a reputation for being "deal killers", which is grossly unwarranted in most cases. The inspector is probably working in your best interests, which some realtors take offence to. It is interesting to note that, when realtors want a home inspected for themselves, their family or friends, they hire these so called deal killers. They do this because they know they are going to get a true, objective opinion of the home's condition. It is not an inspector's role to sway the homebuyer. Serious health and safety issues are a separate matter. An acceptable approach for the inspector would be to suggest that you sit down with your partner and make a list of things you can live with and things that you cannot. The photographs will assist you in arriving at an informed decision. After reading the report and reviewing the photographs and your personal financial position, the answer will come to you. Every house is a good house at the right price. The price should reflect condition of the house.

12. Beware of individuals or companies who suggest that they are Independent Inspectors. Confirm this by doing your own research. If an inspector's name or company appears on a realtor's web site, that is a bad sign. Another clue that indicates that an inspector is not truly independent is if they hand out business cards or brochures to realty companies. The best method of determining the credibility of the inspector is to ask for written references and contacts. Check them out.