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How to choose a Home Inspector

Choosing a qualified and ethical home inspector is the newest challenge facing buyers in today's real estate market, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI®). ASHI, a non-profit professional society made up of individual, independent home inspectors, is the only international organization which tests and screens inspectors based on technical and professional requirements, and grants membership only to those who meet its demanding criteria.


In today's booming home inspection marketplace, not every home inspector is truly qualified to perform inspections, and that ASHI membership is therefore the most important prerequisite to look for in selecting a home inspector. "Most consumers are not able to judge the professional qualifications and experience of a home inspector, and can be too easily impressed by a good sales pitch or contrived testimonials. The home inspector's best training doesn't come from a book, it comes from field experience. Neither warranties nor insurance policies can take the place of the knowledge and experience gained from such hands-on education and that's what makes a truly qualified home inspector.


A qualified home inspector is a generalist who knows how a home's many systems and components work together and how they stand the test of time. A professional home inspector who is a member of ASHI has the expertise to tell the buyer not only whether the electrical service is proper and has the necessary protection devices, but if it needs to be updated. He can identify wet basement problems and recommend solutions. He can explain the importance of attic and house ventilation to protect the building's structure, and how to conserve energy without "suffocating" the house. And, along the way, he'll provide valuable maintenance advice to help the home buyer preserve and enjoy his or her new home in the years to come.


Qualifying the Home Inspector, now that home inspections have become accepted real estate practice in so many parts of the U.S. and Canada, ASHI's concern is to educate buyers about selecting a home inspector who is qualified. Currently, an inspector's membership in ASHI is the most widely accepted indication of qualification. ASHI's requirements for membership are rigorous, including the performance of at least 250 paid professional home inspections and the successful completion of written exams which test the applicant's knowledge of building systems and components, report writing and the ASHI Standards of Practice, and the diagnosis of house and building defects.


Once granted membership, inspectors are expected to continue their education, and are required to earn 40 membership renewal credits every two years in order to keep current with new technology and building practices. Their professional capability is measured against ASHI's national Standards of Practice, which is universally recognized as the benchmark of performance in the home inspection profession. Furthermore, ASHI's strict Code of Ethics protects consumers from potential conflicts of interest by prohibiting inspectors from recommending contractors for repairs, or from doing any of the repairs themselves, in homes which they inspect.


Home buyers who wish to know more about the American Society of Home Inspectors and the names of ASHI Members near them may contact the organization at 932 Lee Street, Suite 101,   Des Plaines , IL 60016, (800-743-2744), or contact Tri-State ASHI at (215) 722-0200.



If the selection of a home inspector is made carefully and ahead of time, home buyers will have one less detail to worry about during the chaos and excitement of finding a new home. ASHI suggests that home buyers call several inspectors in their area and interview them in advance to ascertain their qualifications.

Here are some important questions to ask:

1.  Is the inspector a Certified Member of ASHI?
2.  Will the inspection and report be done in accordance with ASHI's Standards        of Practice?
3.  How long has the inspector been in business as a home inspection firm?
4.  Is the inspector specifically experienced in residential construction?
5.  Does the company offer to do any repairs or improvements based on its              inspection? This
     might cause a conflict of interest.
6.  How long will the inspection take? (The average is 2  to 3 hours; anything            less isn't enough
     time to do a thorough inspection.)
7.  How much will the inspection cost?
8.  Does the inspector supply a written report in a timely manner?
9.  Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? This is a          valuable   
     educational opportunity, and an inspector's refusal should raise a red flag.
10. Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his       expertise up to date?