After working for decades as a licensed builder and roofing contractor, Jerry put his expertise to work as a home inspector. He truly knows construction inside and out, and his experience as a builder has made him one of the most knowledgeable inspectors in southeast Michigan. I sat down with this home inspector extraordinaire to find out more about the home inspection process. Here are some key things to know so you can have a successful and useful home inspection.
Even New Homes Should Be Inspected
Your home inspection shouldn’t be optional because, simply put, no house is perfect. Whether you’re buying a brand new house or one that’s a century old, it’s important to have your home inspected. And if there’s any person that can testify to this, it’s Jerry.
It only takes a few minutes of talking with Jerry to see that a home inspection is crucial. He’s seen it all: Cabinets falling off walls, faulty electrical systems, foundation cracks, leaky roofs, dangerous patios, hoarders…you name it, he’s probably encountered it during an inspection. And that doesn’t only hold true for older homes. Jerry once found over 300 mistakes in a new construction home; the buyer walked away from the sale because the house was in such bad shape. Had the buyer opted not to have an inspection, he would have been stuck with an extremely problematic home. In both old and new homes, a thorough inspection can mean the difference between getting a home with fixable problems, and one with problems that are too costly or too serious to repair.
Not All Inspectors Are Qualified
Not all states require inspectors to be licensed. In Michigan, where Jerry works, just about anyone can call themselves an inspector – a fact which is pretty scary when you think about the implications.
Even if your state does require inspectors to be certified, you’ll want to do thorough research before hiring one. Protect yourself from wannabe inspectors by choosing one that’s certified by the state (where applicable) or a professional home inspector association. According to Jerry, the three most well-known associations are the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI); any of these are a good starting point for your inspector search. Know, however, that each professional association has different requirements and standards, so you’ll want to do some research to determine which one you’re most comfortable with.
Price Should Not Be a Priority
You get what you pay for when you’re hiring a home inspector; skimping now could cost you significantly in the future.
“The inspector can write a clause in the contract that says if they screw up, all they have to do is refund the inspection fee,” says Jerry. The inspector’s liability, therefore, is very, very small. If he misses something major, like a foundation crack or a roof leak, for example, you’ll be covering the cost of the repair yourself.
On the other hand, hiring an experienced inspector can pay off in a few ways:
- If there are problems that need to be addressed, you can use the inspector’s report to ask for seller concessions or renegotiate your offer.
- If there are too many serious or costly problems, you’ll save time and money by knowing about them and walking away from the sale.
- If there are problems and you’re not able to renegotiate, you’ll still go into the sale knowing what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost.
The cost of hiring an experienced inspector, therefore, is well worth it no matter what the outcome.
You Should Go to Your Inspection
Jerry always prefers his clients to be present at the inspection because he can “really see their needs and what they’re worried about.” If you’re there to ask questions, your inspector can tailor the process to your personal needs and concerns. The inspection is your chance to take advantage of your inspector’s expertise and find out everything you need to know about the house – so you should definitely make an effort to be there.
There Are No Dumb Questions
Briana Gibson is a first-time home buyer, and she recently went through the inspection process. Her biggest concern about the inspection? “Everything the inspector said I needed to fix went right over my head.” And Briana’s not alone in this. According to Jerry, “jargon is a big problem” in this industry; hiring an inspector who doesn’t know how to talk on your level can make it difficult for you to get anything of value out of your relationship.
“Always ask all the questions, even dumb ones. First-time home buyers especially have no idea – and I don’t fault them for not having any knowledge,” says Jerry. Your inspector knows a lot more about houses and construction than you – it is his job, after all – so don’t feel ashamed if you have to ask him to slow down or explain something differently.
Your home inspection will be a source of anxiety no matter what, but you can make sure the money you pay for the inspection is money well spent by finding the right inspector and asking questions about things you don’t understand.
Jerry Lootens has been an ASHI-certified inspector for 18 years. He is also a licensed builder and roofing contractor. Jerry currently resides and works in southeast Michigan. For Jerry’s contact information or to learn more, please go to AawfulPicky.com.