get somebody for new construction who has constructed homes in order to get an opinion on how the home is built and how it’s framed,” says Jones.
Only 30 states regulate or license home inspectors, so buyers must be aggressive about researching an inspector’s background. “You’ve got to be very careful because there are some associations out there that have what they call certification, which, frankly, is worthless,” says Don Norman, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI is one of the nation’s largest home-inspector associations. Norman says home buyers should do their own homework when looking for an inspector. “Ask what have they done to become certified,” he says.
Keep in mind that an inspection report only details problems as they exist at the time of the inspection; it does not advise whether potential buyers should purchase the house. Norman suggests asking yourself: How much is it going to cost to fix it and who’s going to pay for it? “If you can answer both of those questions and be satisfied with the answers, then there’s no reason not to proceed with the purchase,” he says.
ASHI inspectors must pass tests to become certified. Norman acknowledges that there are good home inspectors who are not affiliated with an association, but such affiliations give you “a way to establish some benchmark for the inspector you’re going to hire.”
You can expect to pay $300 to $500 to have a home inspected. Cost varies by size, age, and geographical location. Good inspectors offer written reports-not just a checklist-that describe in detail all of the home’s defects. Norman says it can take two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours to thoroughly inspect an average home and generate a report.
After your inspection is complete, watch for conflicts of interest with your inspector. While many inspectors have building, general contracting, or carpentry experience, he or she should never offer to fix problems. Norman says this is part of ASHI’s protocol.
NEWER HOMES VERSUS OLDER HOMES
When Amanda Phillips bought her first home in Baltimore five years ago, she knew she was buying a 51-year-old structure, so having it inspected gave her comfort. She purchased the home when she was single and hoping to have a family, which she now has, with husband, Joseph, 34, and 2-year-old Sumaiyah. “I really wanted to know what I was getting into, what my possible expenses would be after purchasing the property, and what things I could negotiate with the current owner,” she says. “If you’re willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home, then a couple of hundred dollars for an inspection is more than worth it for your peace of mind.”
The same major systems are inspected on both new and older homes. Older homes will almost always have more defects, because of their age, and they tend to have electrical and plumbing issues. “A good inspector will tell the home buyer up front that this older home is not going to meet modern building standards,” says Haynie. Knowing the problems