Home Inspection

Written by Shirley Parker
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Those who have purchased a home without benefit of a home inspection sometimes wish they had spent the several hundred dollars. Problems can arise soon after the purchase or later on. Many of us are part of families or have associates who have purchased both ways, with an inspection and without. Deep down, most of us do know the value of a home inspection, even if we've only seen problems with a rental we've been living in.

When we don't have an inspection done--and even new home purchases benefit from an independent examination--it's often because we're anxious to get escrow underway. There isn't time or we don't want the deal derailed by what we perceive would be a nuisance repair. The home looks sound, after all.

Only a state licensed or certified inspector should perform a home inspection, or at least in the majority of states, if not all of them, licensing or certification is required. It's definitely a good idea to look for evidence of licensing, as well as membership in a professional peer group having a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. However, you may know someone who works for a government agency as a building inspector. Sometimes, such individuals moonlight as residential home inspectors, with or without additional professional affiliations.

Who Pays for Home Inspections?

In some cases, the seller pays for a home inspection, to forestall surprises. However, to protect her own interests, the buyer should select her own inspector to prepare a report, and choose one without relying on the recommendation of a real estate agent. That way, there is no conflict of interest.

In either case, no ethical inspector will write up a favorable report just to please the client. Doing so brings discredit on the profession and, when discovered, may result in immediate loss of license and ejection from professional membership in any related association. It is the inspector's job to be neutral and to serve the public, not special interests.

Home Inspectors Not Limited to One Professional Association

Licensed home inspectors have a choice of associations to join. They include the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), and the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI). In Canada, inspectors may belong to NACHI or to the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), among other organizations.

In addition, home inspectors can join state or provincial associations. Some examples are: Georgia Association of Home Inspectors, the Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors, and Arizona Home Inspection. Many professionals, including Ontario Home Inspectors, belong to the Independent Home Inspectors of North America, whose members sign a pledge "not to actively solicit real estate agents for homebuyer client leads."

A homebuyer in California will find a long list of Home Inspection Organizations. These include the Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers (FREA). FREA was founded in 1992 and expanded its program to include home inspections in 1994. It provides benefits packages to its members in the USA and Canada, including Errors and Omissions Insurance, sometimes called professional liability insurance. Additional coverage in the form of Mold Testing Coverage is available for inspectors who are also members of the Environmental Solutions Association.

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