Does it matter what home inspector you hire? Are all home inspectors created equal? Do I really need a home inspector?

When you purchase a home you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It is the biggest purchase of your life, yet some people spend more time researching and looking at a car or appliance than they do on purchasing a home. Some even skip hiring a home inspector altogether or don’t really know how important the role of the home inspector really is when purchasing a home.

A home inspector only works for the home buyer, they are there to protect you as the buyer.  A home inspector will identify any problems with a home, major and minor.  They will tell you what repairs need to be attended to now and later. By identifying problems early they can save you a lot of money than if you waited and repaired it later or when you finally noticed the problem.

You can consider that home inspectors write the “getting to know your new home” book just for you and they are worth every penny you pay for them. 

Things you may want to know…

Not all home inspectors are created equal.  Educational backgrounds can vary from taking a home correspondence course to actually attending school.  Your home inspectors former career before they became a home inspector can also be beneficial to you during your home inspection.  For example, if your home inspector has a former background in engineering or architecture, they will look at your home differently during the inspection process and catch things other home inspectors with different backgrounds may not.

Although, realtors by law are not allowed to recommend home inspectors because it is considered a conflict of interest; a lot of times they will hand you several home inspectors brochures or tell you to pick some brochures from a rack at their real estate office. You may hear the words, “we have had good results with these inspectors”  But, what does that actually mean?  Good results, because they pass homes more often than other more thorough home inspectors?  Good results, because they are very thorough home inspectors or what exactly?  Ask yourself, if a realtor or real estate office is supposed to be so impartial to the home inspection process, why bother to display any home inspectors brochures at all or why not display every single home inspectors brochure?  Sure, the office can claim they don’t have room to display all the brochures, but whose brochures are they displaying and how do they choose which home inspectors brochure gets displayed and which ones do not?   Doesn’t sound very impartial, does it?

Here are some important news articles to read and news videos to watch regarding home inspections:

Hire a tough experienced home inspector

Home Inspectors

Home Inspectors can give new home owners ‘rotten deal’

Inspecting the inspector (video)

Home Inspections – Buyer Beware Part 1 (video)

Home Inspections – Buyer Beware Part 2 (video)

Home Inspection Warning (video)

Should I get a Home Inspection (video)

Realtors withholding information about grow operations (video)

Remember…

Do your homework on the home inspector you are hiring.  Find out how long they have been in business, their educational background, etc.  

The cheapest home inspector may not necessarily be the most the thorough one. 

Hire a home inspector that pleases you, not one that pleases your realtor. 

Don’t assume everything is an easy fix in a home or that you can see everything that is wrong with it.

Check out the home inspectors reputation with the Better Business Bureau.  Some inspectors or inspection companies have a lot of complaints lodged against them.  

There is no guarantee that any home inspector brochures that a realtor may hand you or any home inspector brochures sitting on a rack at a real estate office are the best inspectors in the business and/or the most thorough.  

Don’t be fooled by fancy advertising.

Find a home inspector who spends time with you in depth to explain things properly during and after the inspection process. 

No home inspection is too expensive or too thorough.

 

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coconews
    May 16, 2008 @ 13:07:01

    A home inspector plays a very important role when you are purchasing a home. Yet some people try to save money by skipping the home inspection process altogether or hiring the cheapest one they can find. No guarantee that the cheapest one is the best quality is there?

    A good home inspector is worth their weight in gold, they can save you a lot of money by identifying problems before you decide to purchase a home. After all, unless you have very deep pockets, the majority of people do not wish to buy a home that will cost a lot of money to repair.

    A home that has structural problems is like a car that has been in an accident and the frame is bent. It is never quite the same even after it has been repaired is it?

    I also should mention that realtors will ask you who your home inspector is in advance. You may get a reaction of “oh” or “we have had problems with their home inspections in the past” or “we don’t carry that inspectors brochure in our office because we have had problems with them in the past”. Please don’t let a realtors comments persuade you to use another home inspector, you are the one paying for the home inspection, not your realtor and you don’t have to try to please your realtor by hiring a home inspector they prefer.

  2. coconews
    May 16, 2008 @ 14:47:41

    We used a home inspector who has a reputation of being very thorough. Our realtor said that a lot of people complain about this particular inspector and the realtor recommended three different home inspectors instead.

    When we checked out all the home inspectors reputations with the Better Business Bureau it turned out all the realtor recommended home inspectors had several complaints lodged against them and the home inspector we planned to use had zero complaints.

    Seems the only complaints about our home inspector were from the realtors themselves because our inspector had the reputation of being very, very, thorough. Perhaps too thorough for their liking, but we really didn’t care because we wanted a solid, well built home, that wasn’t going to end up being a problematic money pit.

    BTW we were very, very, pleased with the very, very thorough home inspector. We were glad we stuck with our original decision to use this particular home inspector and that we did not let our realtors personal opinion of our home inspector persuade us to use a different home inspector instead.

  3. paulb
    May 17, 2008 @ 12:34:18

    I know a few excellent home inspectors. Very valuable and a must when buying a home.

    I have also witnessed really bad ones.

    Do your homework and if a friend or family member knows a good one that’s a great place to start.

  4. M-
    May 17, 2008 @ 19:28:21

    Ed Witzke has a video, available in the library (at least, the VPL had it a few years ago) that talks about things to look for when inspecting condos.

    We planned to use Ed when we bought our condo back then. Our realtor referred to him as “Dr Death”. Which is exactly what we wanted. She tried to convince us to select somebody else because Ed won’t give a positive review to any building. When that didn’t work, she said that Ed was being sued by a number of people for giving inaccurate review (a search of the court registries indicates this is not the case). She also said that Ed gives bad reviews to the first three buildings he inspects for clients, and then gives a good review to the fourth– so his inspections end up costing more and he’s just fraudulently giving poor reviews to the first few.

    This turned out to be false, as Ed in fact refused to review our condo– we told him which company did the rainscreen repairs, which warranty program it was under, and said that our primary concern was with leakiness. He said he’d never faulted that company’s rainscreen repairs, and he didn’t think it was worth the money for us to hire him just to look at the rest. So we didn’t have him inspect. The building turned out to be just fine. No water problems, and there were only two defects with out unit that we found: some damage to the hardwood where a potted plant had been overwatered (we hid it with our sofa), and a bathtub that drained poorly (easily fixed).

    All kinds of excuses and veiled threats to try to get us not to use him. She was an inexperienced realtor (we were her first clients– she’s a friend), and she was parroting her boss’ opinions, but it was annoying, to say the least.

  5. Bill
    May 18, 2008 @ 06:36:38

    Realtors make up all kind of stories about Ed Witzke. All of them completely untrue.

    Ed has a reputation for being very,very, thorough and some realtors don’t like that because their commission is on the line.

    The inspector only points out all the problems with a home, ultimately, it is a buyer that choses to fail a house and not proceed with an offer.

  6. Bill
    May 18, 2008 @ 07:12:04

    “Ed won’t give a positive review to any building”

    “She also said that Ed gives bad reviews to the first three buildings he inspects for clients, and then gives a good review to the fourth”

    Simply not true, he just won’t give a positive review on bad construction and there is a lot of crappy, cheap, poorly built, construction here. If you want to buy a very well built home, hire Ed.

  7. InspectorStu
    May 20, 2008 @ 10:14:52

    A home inspector doesn’t give a “review” of a home. An inspector is a generalist who performs a objective visual inspection of the systems and components of a property.

    A home does not “pass” or “fail” an inspection. Any home, even a brand-spanking-new one, will have deficiences. The inspector should have the background and experience to provide sufficient and accurate information to their client so that he or she will be able to make an objective decision based upon their requirements, budget, and wishes supplemented by the findings in the inspection report.

    The inspector should be able to communicate with the client in a manner that lets them know what could be considered a “major” issue and how it differs from minor ones. A open furnace vent pipe that can kill the inhabitants with carbon monoxide IS a Big Deal issue that requires immediate repair. A pencil hole in a window screen is not usually considered a big deal. But, quite often there is no effort to differentiate, both issues are checked off as a deficiency requiring repair.

    There is documentation of inspectors and realtors working together in a manner to promote their own best interest, not that of the buyer/client. Hang’em all!

    InspectorStu
    Virginia Inspection Service, LLC

  8. vanclips
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:19:14

    I just did a home inspection with Ed, and have uploaded a video of Ed Witzke here:

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