Today's consumer is at a disadvantage when choosing a home inspector in
Florida because there is no regulation of the industry. Anyone can hang
up a sign and call themselves a home inspector. So how does a home
buyer or seller know who is qualified and who is not. How does a Real
estate salesperson know whether or not the person they recommend is
qualified? By asking the following questions, and tabulating the
results. Print-out and use the RATING-CARD
below to rate your prospective home inspector. The rating card uses 17
questions to determine the credentials and experience of four
prospects. An explanation and rational behind these questions is
1 Who will my inspector be? In a
multi-inspector firm there may be a seasoned veteran and a brand new
rookie. Find out who you'll be getting.
Are they certified as Residential Combination Inspectors? While
there is now a mandatory ome
iNSPECTOR Home Inspector licensing law, it is, in fact,
is very weak, and does not have any experience requirements. There are, however, other
certifications that require more rigorous knowledge and training, in
addition to familiarization with the building codes.
I am referring to the International Code
Congress certification called the Residential Combination Inspector which
is the most comprehensive indication of code related skills since it
deals with all aspects of home construction including electrical,
mechanical, plumbing, structure, etc. When one has this credential,
only then can they obtain a Florida license as a Florida Certified
Residential Combination Inspector, which then subjects them to
maintaining biannual continuing education credits. A simple Home
Inspection License starts with the letters HI, while the more difficult
to obtain Building Inspector License starts with the letters BN. Take
the time to discriminate.
Are they certified by ASHI?
This national association has the highest standards for membership,
requiring a minimum no. of 250 completed inspections, passing the ASHI
tests, and subscribing to a code of ethics and standards of practice in
order to call themselves ASHI certified. Many inspectors are ASHI
affiliates, but are not Certified. Know the difference.
Are they a state certified building inspector?
While not as rigorous (as the Multifamily dwelling certification) to
obtain, this designation still implies that code related testing was
Are they registered with the state as a licensed contractor?
5 per license . Check w/ DBPR. A residential builders license usually
means they have residential building experience and have been tested
(or grandfathered in). Other contractor licenses may include
electrical, mechanical, AC, roofing, etc. The more the better.
6 Are they a state certified energy auditor or
building rater? A formal training in these dynamics can save
How long have they been performing home inspections in Tallahassee?
Many problems here in Tallahassee are unique to this area. A home
inspector with five years experience in New York may know steam boilers
and ice damming, but may not know about synthetic stucco or heat pumps,
or fungus and moisture.
Have they been recognized by the Florida Court system as an expert in
the field of home inspections?
It takes a lot of experience and expertise for such recognition. This
could be useful in many areas such as insurance settlements,
construction litigation, arbitration and mediation, etc.
Type of inspection format:
verbal-0 checklist-1 narative-2 detailed manual-3 The state of the art
inspection format is now an in depth manual that the home owner can use
as a reference manual for years to come. Good ones include repair cost
figures, authoritative expert resources, energy saving tips, consumer
purchasing tips, repair information, safety information, home
maintenance info, etc., all customized to your home.
10 Do they have a written contract outlining their
scope of work? Never enter into an agreement to have
something as expensive as a house inspected without having a written
contract specifying who's responsible for what.
11 Do they belong to an organization which require
standards of practice and a code of ethics? Diploma mill type
credentials are popping up out of the woodwork. To maintain membership
in any of the better associations one must, at the very least, uphold a
certain set of standards.
Do they perform repair work on houses they inspect?
This would be an obvious conflict of interests. Other conflicts include
paying or accepting commissions for inspection work, collusion with
third parties, etc.
Do they report on environmental hazards
such as radon, lead, buried fuel oil storage tanks, asbestos, etc.? A
lot of the big expense items fall into this category. Many times such
hazards can't be positively identified during an inspection but they
can be brought to everyone's attention as an item needing more
analysis, or presenting a potential liability.
Are they up on the latest class action construction suits
such as “Chinese drywall”,"synthetic stucco", LP,GP, Masonite,
polybutelene pipe? Many rookies and some old timers fail to keep
abreast of current events in the construction industry. Professional
associations such as ASHI are constantly conducting educational
seminars in all of the latest developments. Often, inspectors dependent
upon check lists fail to include or mention some of the more recent
pitfalls as they come to light.
Does their price reflect the complexity of the inspection? How much
will it cost? You
will no doubt discover a wide difference in price between home
inspection companies. Why is this? Two reasons - complexity of the
inspection and qualifications of the inspector. Old, large houses with
crawlspaces, pools and problems, cost more than small new homes on slab
foundations. Also, when talking quality, you get what you pay for. A
brain surgeon with 20 years of experience charges more than an intern.
A Mercedes costs more than a Ford. Look at the experience, credentials,
time spent at the inspection, individual attention received, the
inspection format, and then consider the value of the investment, and
the risk. Somewhere there will be a balance. No home inspector will
catch 100% of the problems, but some will shed far more light on them
Will they give you names and dates of three customers as references?
(One from last week and two from last year) 2 pts. for each favorable
reference. -10 pts. for each unfavorable reference. -10 for no
references. After a year goes by, most clients will know if the report
was accurate or not. Try to get the reports from one year ago to the
day to keep it random. If they won't provide this information deduct
How many hours of formal construction education do they have?
5 pts. if over 100, 5pts if over 20 yrs. construction experience. Who
trained them? Have they had formal classes in construction technology?
Often inspectors will claim a certain number of years in "construction
experience" in order to bolster their lack of years of actual
inspection experience. Over 20 years however is still worth a lot.
Print out the form below and use it to add up the scores and compare
the results. These totals will give you a yardstick with which to
measure the prospective home inspectors.
BUILDING AND HOME INSPECTION SERVICE