How to Choose a Reliable Home Inspector

Choosinga reliable home inspector can be tricky. There are huge differences between home inspectors. Like all professions or trades, the majority are rather mediocre. A small percentage are spectacularly bad. An even smaller percentage are very, very good. You want one of the the good ones. Your home is often the largest investment of your life. Take some time to make sure you are hiring someone you can trust to do an excellent job and to look out for your interests above all others.

A referral from a friend or coworker is good place to start.

You may choose to get your referral from your realtor.  In fairness, there are ethical and trustworthy realtors out there that are looking out for your best interests, but let’s get real folks….everyone knows there are several that do not.

Here’s the dirty secret.  Lots of home inspectors rely on the real estate sales people to keep the referrals flowing.

 These inspectors don’t want to upset their referral source, and in effect maintain two clients, one being their “client” and the other the realtor.  Sometimes this conflict results in the inspection or report not accurately relaying the conditions found in the house, because to do so would mess up that nice flow of referrals.  The report may note conditions, it may describe them, but the report may not accurately inform you about the conditions and what they mean.  You want to know what this stuff means, and surprising numbers of inspection reports don’t do that.  While lots of realtors hotly dispute the previous commentary, I’m sorry to say it happens all the time.

Many agents categorize inspectors into three groups:

  1. The inspectors they recommend when it’s their listing. These are the guys with poor eyesight and dull pencils.
  2.  The inspectors they recommend when they’re acting as buyer’s agents.
  3. The inspectors they recommend to their family relatives. This is the inspector you want. He’s the one they NEVER recommend, except when a friend or relative is buying a home.

You want the third guy.  So, how to find them?

The best idea is to start looking for that home inspector before you’re actively engaged in a contract and purchase.

 This usually means folks go to Angie’s List or, Heaven forbid, Yelp, to find the inspector that’s going to advise them on the largest investment of their life.  I want to suggest that Yelp is a great place for finding a taco or a pair of shoes, but it’s not where you want to find a home inspector.

Ask people at work.  Send out inquiries on Facebook.  Pull together whatever networking assets you possess and utilize them like your finances depend on it, because they do.  Hunker down, and do the homework.

This requires a little more planning, but since this is a big chunk of money you’re spending,  you want to have this figured out before, not after, you sign the contract on that house.




I'm a home inspector and carpenter in Chicago and this site is built from things I’ve learned from 30 years inspecting houses in this town.

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