Choosing a Home Inspector
What questions should I ask before choosing a home inspector?
There are three basic questions that filter out most inferior inspectors: Are you licensed? What insurance do you carry? Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?
Let me explain. In Georgia there are currently no licensing requirements, which makes it the wild west for home inspecting (buyer beware). Most reputable inspectors in this area will also carry a license in a neighboring state (we are licensed in NC and TN). Beware, "certified" is not the same as licensed. Many will throw around the term "certified," but it does not involve any of the rigorous training and testing that licensing requires. Georgia also currently has no insurance requirement and NC and TN have minimal insurance requirements. Your home inspector's insurance protects you as much as it does them. If there is an accident resulting to damage to the property and the inspector has no insurance, the liability could roll back to you as the person who employed this inspector. Accidents are rare, but they do happen: burst pipes, foot through the ceiling, etc. (thankfully we haven't experienced any accidents to date). We carry insurance in excess of any requirements ($500,000 General Liability, $250,000 Errors & Omissions). As for a satisfaction guarantee, this one is self explanatory. If someone isn't going to stand behind their work, you probably should look elsewhere. We offer an absolute satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you feel that we did not properly do our job, we will pay another licensed inspector of your choosing to reinspect the home (up to the amount we were paid).
Do you walk the roof to inspect it?
We pride ourselves on having the equipment to safely walk more roofs than our competitors. We carry 3 ladders to most inspections the largest ones being 16' and 24' (and have a 32' ladder available upon request) which gives us access to most roofs. There are some instances when safety precludes us from walking a roof. Wet metal roofs are very unsafe to walk. Wet shingle roofs may or may not be safe depending on pitch, condition, and access. Some roofs offer no safe transition from ladder to roof. Historically, we have walked 92% of the roofs. If we can't walk the roof, it is frequently because of rain, which actually gives us some advantages. It is easier to find a leak from the attic on a rainy day than it is from the roof on a dry day. If the roof cannot be walked, we will still inspect from the eves, windows, and with binoculars.
Do you open the main electrical panel?
Yes we do. NC standards require it, but GA and TN do not. We open the panel to inspect in all states (assuming no unsafe conditions are observed).
Do you crawl under the house?
Yes we do. Generally, we need about 18" of height to be able to maneuver in a crawl space. Occasional tighter squeezes are possible. And yes, we do find snakes and critters. As long as the critters pose no threat, we generally are able to inspect around them.
What do you look for about the plumbing?
Type and method of installation. We want to identify what type of piping is used (both supply and drain) to be able to educate the buyer about potential risks. In general, we are looking for professional methods of installation.
Do you do drone inspections?
We currently do not. Although, as a licensed pilot, it is a simple matter for me to do drone inspections, I strongly feel that they are a gimmick. I know very few seasoned inspectors that use them. It is remarkably difficult to discern defects with a drone. Walking the roof is far superior. In certain markets, like row houses in a large city, drone's can be useful where access is impossible, but in this market, walking the roof is more effective.
Do you do Radon testing?
Yes we do. Most of our service are is "medium risk" (by national classification) for radon. Radon tends to collect in the lowest level of the home. Houses most at risk are houses with built out basements. Houses with vented crawlspaces are lower risk. If asked, I generally recommend a radon test if anyone will be sleeping in a built out basement or if any of the occupants are smokers (cancer risk is 10X if smoke and radon are combined).
Do you test wells?
Yes. Many homes in this area are on wells and it is not uncommon to have a well fail a basic coliform bacteria test. Thankfully, correcting this often is not expensive (have the well shocked), but it is important to know, because if a well fails, it has a higher probability of failing again within a year. It is important to keep up with the water quality and retreat as needed. We can also (if requested) test for iron, which can annoyingly discolor clothes and toilets and tubs.