Who Should Perform a Home Inspection?

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Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person can make in their lifetime. Before finalizing a home purchase, it is highly recommended that buyers have a home inspection performed on the property. A home inspection provides valuable information about the current condition of the home and allows buyers to make an informed decision about moving forward with the purchase. When it comes to home inspections, one of the most important choices is selecting the right home inspector. This article will provide guidance on who should perform a home inspection and what qualifications to look for in an inspector.

Background on Home Inspections

A home inspection is a detailed visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home. A home inspector will assess the condition of the roof, attic, exterior, basement, structure, plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, and interior. The inspection report will outline any material defects found during the inspection. This allows buyers to understand any issues with the home before finalizing the purchase. Home inspections are not required by law, but they are highly recommended for all home buyers. Sellers can also benefit from having a home inspector in Michigan prior to listing their home.

Importance of Choosing the Right Inspector

Selecting a qualified, experienced home inspector is critical for ensuring you receive a comprehensive, high-quality inspection. There are no nationwide regulations for home inspectors, so there can be inconsistencies in their expertise and inspection practices. Poor inspections can fail to uncover major defects or provide inaccurate information about the home. This is why it is so important to do research to find a reputable home inspector. Asking the right questions and understanding what qualifications to look for can give home buyers confidence they have selected the right inspector.

Key Qualifications for Home Inspectors

When evaluating home inspectors, here are some of the top qualifications buyers should look for:


In many states, home inspectors are required to hold a license to work. Confirm inspectors have active licenses in your state and are up to date with continuing education requirements. Licensed inspectors have met experience, testing, and educational standards for home inspection.

Industry Certifications

There are recognized certifications in the home inspection industry that require ongoing education, testing, and adherence to industry standards. Some of the top certifications to look for include:

  • InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
  • ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors
  • NAHI – National Association of Home Inspectors

Inspectors with industry certifications have demonstrated competency in performing home inspections.

Insurance Coverage

Reputable home inspectors carry insurance coverage like general liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance. This protects both the inspector and the home buyer in the event issues arise. Confirm what insurance policies they hold and the coverage amounts.


Choose an inspector with significant experience conducting home inspections. Those with at least 2-3 years or 200-500 inspections will have the knowledge to perform a competent inspection. Review their inspection reports to confirm their experience with different home styles and systems.

Sample Inspection Report

Ask inspectors to provide a sample inspection report so you can review their reporting format, thoroughness, and professionalism. A detailed report will indicate a more comprehensive inspection.

Membership in Professional Organizations

Many quality inspectors are members of professional organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These organizations offer resources for inspectors to stay up to date with codes, standards, and technology.


References from past clients can offer insight into an inspector’s quality of work, professionalism, and timeliness. Online reviews on sites like Google or Yelp can also be helpful. Look for consistently positive feedback.

Type of Inspector

Home buyers can choose to work with these common types of home inspectors:

Independent Home Inspectors

Independent home inspectors operate their own home inspection business and conduct inspections on residential properties. They work for themselves and are not affiliated with real estate firms or brokerages. Independent inspectors focus solely on performing home inspections. They often have the most flexibility in scheduling.

Full-Service Inspection Firms

Some inspection firms provide complete home inspection services encompassing roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, and more. They employ multiple inspectors with specialized expertise across various home systems and components. These firms schedule inspections efficiently but individual inspectors may vary.

Structural Engineers

Licensed structural engineers have specialized expertise in evaluating a home’s structure and foundation for defects. If potential structural issues are a key concern, a structural engineer’s inspection can provide added peace of mind. They typically charge more than a standard home inspector.

Specialty Inspectors

There are also home inspectors who specialize in specific systems, such as:

  • Roof inspectors
  • Radon inspectors
  • Mold inspectors
  • Pool inspectors

If you have concerns about a specific home system, hiring a specialty inspector may be advisable in addition to a generalist home inspector. This provides an extra layer of scrutiny.

What to Expect During the Inspection

On inspection day, the home inspector will arrive at the property to conduct the visual examination of the home’s systems and structure. Home buyers are encouraged to attend the inspection so the inspector can point out issues and answer questions. Here are some things to expect:

  • Thorough top-to-bottom inspection of interior and exterior
  • Operation of plumbing fixtures, electrical switches, appliances
  • Visual inspection of attic, roof, and foundation for signs of defects
  • Testing of HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems
  • Identification of any red flags, defects, or items needing repair
  • Overview of inspection findings upon completion
  • Complete written home inspection report within 24-48 hours

The inspection usually takes 2-3 hours for a typical single-family home. The inspector will document their findings and create a detailed home inspection report.

Cost of Home Inspections

Home inspection costs can range from $300-$500 based on the size of the home, location, and scope of inspection. Additional fees may apply for radon, mold, pool, or septic system inspections. Inspection costs depend on:

  • Home size – Fees are higher for larger homes
  • Scope – More testing or specialty inspections may increase the cost
  • Location – Inspections cost more in major metro areas
  • Experience of inspector – Highly experienced inspectors often charge more

Overall, home inspection costs are reasonable given the value gained from the inspector’s expertise and the information provided.

Questions to Ask Potential Inspectors

Vetting home inspectors thoroughly is important to finding the right professional. Here are key questions buyers should ask inspectors they are considering hiring:

  • Are you licensed and certified for home inspection?
  • How many years have you been working in home inspections?
  • Approximately how many home inspections have you completed?
  • What areas and types of homes have you inspected?
  • What does your inspection cover? What systems do you look at?
  • Do you provide a written report? May I see a sample report?
  • What insurance policies do you carry?
  • Do you offer any warranties or guarantees on your inspection?
  • What professional organizations do you belong to?
  • Can you provide references from past clients?
  • How far in advance do I need to schedule the inspection?
  • How long will the on-site inspection take?
  • How long will it take to receive the full inspection report?
  • How much do you charge for home inspections?

Asking these questions helps confirm an inspector’s expertise and allows buyers to make an informed hiring decision.

When to Schedule the Home Inspection

Home inspections are typically completed after the buyer has a property under contract. It’s recommended buyers have the inspection done as soon as possible during the contingency period. This allows time to review the inspection report, request any repairs, and potentially negotiate with the seller if needed. Don’t wait until the final days of the contingency. Schedule the inspection shortly after contract acceptance for the most benefit.

Using the Inspection Report

The home inspector’s inspection report provides comprehensive details about the home’s condition, including any material defects that need to be addressed. Buyers carefully review the report to understand any concerns with the property. If defects are identified, buyers can request the seller complete repairs or renegotiate the contract price if needed. The inspection report is a useful tool that enables buyers to make the most informed decision about proceeding with the purchase.

Legal Recourse for a Poor Inspection

If an inspector overlooks major issues that should reasonably have been identified, the buyer may potentially have legal recourse. The buyer would need to show evidence the inspector acted negligently and this resulted in financial harm. Many inspectors include clauses in their contracts limiting liability so buyers should review this. Having an experienced, competent home inspector greatly reduces the chances of these issues.


Choosing the right home inspector is one of the most important decisions for home buyers. They should thoroughly research inspector qualifications, experience, certifications, and reputation. A qualified inspector provides peace of mind through their inspection and enables buyers to make fully-informed purchase decisions. While not mandatory, a home inspection is one of the smartest investments buyers can make.

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