Buying Information

Choosing a Home Inspector

Obtaining a professional home inspection is one of the most important aspects of purchasing a home. Unfortunately, the expertise of inspectors varies greatly, and home inspectors are not regulated or licensed in most states, including Virginia. However, many good inspectors are available, the key is finding them. Your Napier Realtors® ERA agent or branch manager can provide a list of experienced home inspectors who will gladly provide references. The American Society of Home Inspectors is a professional association of home inspectors whose members have performed at least 250 property inspections and have passed two written exams as a prerequisite of membership. ASHI members must adhere to ASHI's code of ethics, standards of practice, and continuing education requirements. ASHI can be reached through their web site at www.ashi.org.

We recommend that you interview several inspectors before hiring one. If you are purchasing a somewhat unique home (such as historic property, farm, rehab) ask if the inspector has experience with that type of property. Consider ordering specialized inspections for systems such as heating and cooling, solar, alarm or security, pools and spas, etc. Look for contractors specifically experienced with those systems. Explain up front that you will not request repairs from their firm. A good inspector only performs inspections. Don't hire an inspector who claims to make corrective repairs as identified by the inspection. This is the best way to avoid conflict of interest issues. Include this list of questions along with your own when interviewing inspectors:

  • Are you a full time inspector?
  • Are you a member of a professional association?
  • Do you hold any special licenses or degrees? (Electrician, plumber, engineer, general contractor, claims adjuster, etc.)
  • How many inspections have you performed?
  • Do you carry errors and omissions insurance?
  • What type of report do you provide? When is the report available?
  • May I check your recent references?
  • Do you provide any guarantees?
  • Can the inspector return to look at repairs made pursuant to inspection?

Once you've chosen an inspector, plan to be present for the inspection and pay attention. You will learn a lot about the home and the future maintenance that may be necessary. Don't bring friends, children, decorators, painters or contractors along. Avoid being distracted from the inspection, this is the best opportunity to learn about your prospective new home.

Wear and tear flaws or cosmetic deficiencies should be accounted for and reflected in your asking price. Understand that the purpose of inspections is to uncover major defects and negotiate with the seller for corrective repairs. Make any such request for repairs in writing. Get repair estimates from qualified contractors. Prepare documentation and allow your agent to present it to the seller as part of the negotiation.

A home inspection cannot eliminate all future maintenance problems, but it can give you a thorough understanding of the home's condition at the time you purchase it. A careful inspection will help you to avoid costly surprises. For further protection, you may want to consider purchasing a Home Protection Plan.

For more information or assistance, please contact your favorite Napier Realtors® ERA agent or e-mail us at info@napierera.com.