by Ruth Scott
SBJ Contributing Writer
The home inspector inspects the house, but who inspects the inspector?
In the state of Missouri, that job is up to you.
Only a few states currently license home inspectors, said Scott Sharp, owner of Guardian Home Inspections. Because Missouri is not one of these states, he said, "It's very important that people take the initiative in looking for an inspector." He suggested thoroughly interviewing home inspectors and asking others for recommendations.
Lane Loyer, president of American Quality Building Services, said to find out how extensive the inspection will be.
"There are a lot of inspection companies out there doing the bare minimum," he said.
Steve Robinson, salesperson and vice president of Action Real Estate, said a "thorough inspection of the property" should take place, including "getting up on the roof, inspecting the shingles up close, and going underneath the house in the crawl space."
He said the buyer should be present for the inspection if at all possible.
Loyer, who owns several construction companies, said he got into the inspection business because he was doing so many inspections already.
"Many of our customers were asking us to do inspections for them, so now we're changing the name of one of the construction businesses to American Quality Inspection Services," he said.
"Now I've put more people in training, sending them to home inspection school." At this school the students learn what to look for and receive training in the inspection process.
"If I was looking for a home inspector, I would want to make sure they were certified by some higher learning institution," Sharp said. He added that other continuing education, although not required, would be beneficial. "Mechanical and structural designs are more involved today than they were 50 years ago," he said. "I'm always going to some kind of learning opportunity, because things are changing so rapidly."
According to Sharp, the most widely recognized association of home inspectors is the American Society of Home Inspectors, or ASHI.
Loyer said becoming a certified ASHI inspector involves joining the organization and then completing a certain number of inspections. "It's a good way to judge if an inspector has a lot of experience," he said.
Experience is a very important factor to consider when choosing a home inspector, Robinson said.
"Check for longevity. If they've been in the business awhile, that's a good
He said talking to people who have had inspections done recently could help in the decision. "You could also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any claims against them," he added.
The home inspector's job, according to Sharp, is "to look for material defects and clues to underlying material defects which could lead to major structural and mechanical problems the owner could encounter after moving in."
Loyer added that while home inspectors check for the basics, they may find something that needs to be further examined by a licensed electrician or HVAC technician.
While many home inspectors do not have insurance, Sharp said he recommends it.
"Errors and omissions insurance would protect the inspector, the client and the referring source if a problem is missed during the inspection," he said. "General liability insurance covers the inspector if someone is hurt or property damage occurs during the inspection."
"A lot of buyers get a home warranty which lasts for one year after purchase," Robinson said, adding that many times the seller will offer a home warranty at the time of listing.
According to Sharp, some inspection firms offer a warranty, adding that no matter what, an inspector "should guarantee that he has abided by his standards of practice." He said an inspector should have a recognized standard he follows each time.
"All the major structural items, from the tip of the chimney to the visible base of the foundation should be checked," he said, as well as all mechanical items, such as "major built-in appliances, wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning."
ASHI provides standards of practice and a code of ethics to guide an inspector through a home inspection. Loyer uses a six-page form to examine houses, with one person inspecting the exterior and one the interior of the home.
After the inspection, Robinson said, a report should be given to the Realtor as quickly as possible, so that the Realtor can go over the results with the buyer.
Loyer said he also writes a letter of general description following the inspection. "It is a letter of opinion, giving our feelings about the property."
Some inspectors offer termite inspection, radon measurement and well or septic evaluations with the home inspection for an additional cost, Sharp said.
It's worth the time spent to "take a role in choosing your home inspector," Sharp said, in order to find one who will do a quality job.
"It's important that the inspectors care," Loyer said, "and that they don't just want to get out of there in 30 minutes."
Home features such as skylights and electric wires pose a threat to home inspectors. A general liability policy offers coverage for injury during an inspection.
Sharp tests the underside of a deck where it connects to the house's siding.
Scott Sharp, owner of Guardian Home Inspections, says the search for a quality home inspector could begin with the American Society of Home Inspectors.[[In-content Ad]]
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