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In choosing a home inspector, I recommend seeing how long they have been inspecting houses, and also look at their sample reports. The inspection report and how deficiencies are documented can be the difference between buying a money pit or getting significant credits at the closing table. The inspection report can also prevent a tragedy in areas such as pool safety barriers, dryer ducts / ventilation, and gas appliances. Too often people price shop only, as they don't want to spend any more on an inspection than they feel they "have to" when inspectors can differ between as little as $25 and as much as a few hundred depending on the size of the property. Do you want a checklist with a couple of photos and little (if any)content? Would you prefer estimates with diagrams and code references (where applicable) ? Do they have all the necessary ladders to get into all the scuttle holes (attic access) points? I seen one inspector pull up in a car with no ladder, and only went into an attic if the access had a pull down ladder. You will get what you pay for when it comes to home inspectors, and sometimes less.
Recently, I have seen an epidemic of low cost inspectors who are more concerned about "getting the deal through" for the realtor - thinking this will lead to more business referrals. If you are going to use your realtor's inspector - I recommend checking their on-line reviews, as many times this year someone realized once they moved into a home using a low cost or realtor referral inspector that the roof needed repair(which was not mentioned), an HVAC system which was 20 yrs old "acceptable but recommend buy service contract" when it needed to be replaced at the cost of $7,000. Older homes with Federal Pacific, Zinsco / Sylvania / ITT stab lock , as well as Pushmatic / Bulldog electrical panels also have been written up as "Acceptable - may be higher cost to insure in older home" as opposed to what I would document such older aforementioned panels as "known potential safety - fire hazards - replacement recommended by a licensed electrical contractor - estimate cost $1500-$2000" I have been asked to re-inspect 3 such properties this year, as when the inspector has one costly miss, it puts the entire previous inspection in question aka - what else did this guy miss?" Why did these inspectors not strongly call out these deficiencies as I would?
I do not do "on site" reporting, and get most of my reports done within a 24 hr period. I am not the cheapest, but pride myself in my reporting to provide you detailed, concise information so you can make an informed decision regarding what is most likely the most expensive purchase you will buy.