This article was written for Consumerism Commentary by Antelope, an entertainment lighting designer working hard to achieve financial security.
In the last year, my wife and I have sold a house in one city, and bought and sold another house in another city. After a bad experience with a home inspector when we were buying our second house, we learned a ton about home inspectors. You can do all of the research you would like, but sometimes you learn things in the School of Hard Knocks.
Believe it or not, some states have no certification requirements for a person to call themselves a “Home Inspector.” if you live in Delaware, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, California, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Ohio, Wyoming, Kansas, Iowa, or New Mexico, your state does not have licensing requirements for home inspection companies. This means that a person could call themselves a Home Inspector, charge you $300 for an inspection, and completely miss major issues. Even when dealing with an inspector in a state with licensing requirements, you are not protected from bad experiences. My wife and I had one such experience with an inspector in Oklahoma City — Oklahoma has licensing requirements — who lied to us during the inspection. After we realized we had to immediately drop $20,000 for a new roof, the inspector told us he thought the seller was a criminal and we should have never bought the house. Unfortunately for us, we had already signed a document holding the inspector for a monetary amount covering only the cost of the inspection.
If you’re interested in finding out what each state requires for its Home Inspectors to undergo for licensing, check out this information provided by Kaplan. States are all listed with the requirements and classroom hours each inspection candidate needs in order to complete state licensing. The Independent Home Inspectors of North America has useful information on this topic as well.
It also helps to check up on references of home inspection companies. Check places like Angie’s List to find reviews for inspectors or their companies and the Better Business Bureau to see if a particular inspector is involved with any disputes or lawsuits. Even searching Google for your selected company can reveal issues with their reputation.
Unfortunately, sometimes you just get dealt a crappy inspector who delivers a crappy inspection. Life isn’t perfect, and real estate often brings out the worst of it.
If you enjoyed this article, please stay tuned to Consumerism Commentary for more from Antelope.
Published or updated August 12, 2008.