By Keith Boggs
Posted October 15, 2020, at 7:00 am CT
On our blog, we provide a lot of advice on how to choose a home inspector. Because, unlike finding people to provide other home services — for example, landscaping, appliance repair, or fixing a garage door — there is so much at risk! Buying a home is a major investment! And the inspection is the only shot you get at really understanding the condition of the home you hope to live in. The last thing you want is to uncover expensive issues after you’ve already signed the paperwork.
So, it’s important to be smart about hiring your home inspector. But you have decisions to make. Home inspection companies vary in size and approach. Some are large, multi-inspector firms with a few experienced inspectors and others just getting started in the industry. Others are smaller firms, like ours, with highly-experienced owner-operators who are active in the field.
Home inspectors themselves also vary greatly in experience, thoroughness, and customer service. And you should keep in mind that you’re not hiring a company, you’re hiring a person. One individual. With a large investment at stake, it makes good sense to choose the best.
Read on for helpful advice about how to choose a home inspector that will help you fully understand the condition of the home you want to buy.
How to Choose a Home Inspector
1. Start Early
Choosing the right home inspector is such a critical step in your home-buying journey. And yet, so many people wait until the last minute to find one. Don’t let this be you! There are so many reasons to begin your search for a home inspector early — long before you are ready to make an offer.
First, your option period is usually a mere five to ten days, and, during that brief window, you must have the home inspected, identify issues, and get quotes from repair companies to address them. You may also ask the seller to fix issues, in which case, you will probably want a re-inspection after the work is done. It’s a lot to cram into a short period of time, especially if the seller is eager to get to closing, and you are stressed out because you’re about to make one of the most expensive investments you’ll likely make in your lifetime.
Here’s another reason to start the hiring process early: The best home inspectors stay busy! Positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations keep them in the field doing inspections most days of the week. By choosing your home inspector early, he can gain an understanding of where you are in the home buying process and will be better positioned to provide you the best service possible when inspection time comes.
2. Do Your Research
We believe there are two types of research home buyers should conduct when choosing a home inspector.
First, learn about home inspections. In Texas, all home inspectors must be certified by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). They’re also required to adhere to TREC’s standards of practice. But this means they are only required to inspect components that are “visible” and “accessible.” And they only have to operate appliances in “one mode” with “ordinary controls” at “typical settings.” Some inspectors will do just that. Others will go well past those minimum requirements to give you additional peace of mind. Understanding the difference will help you choose the best home inspector for you.
Then, do your due diligence to create a shortlist. Start by searching for highly-rated companies on Google Maps, Yelp, and Facebook. Spend time reading good and bad reviews. You may also find helpful information on companies that service your area on NextDoor and Patch. But don’t stop there. Reach out to friends, families, and co-workers for both positive and negative recommendations. Narrow your list down to a few key contenders and review their websites to gain an understanding of their services and values and make sure their inspectors are TREC-licensed. Check them out on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Then, it’s time to prepare for some interviews.
3. Ask the Right Questions
Getting the information you need about a home inspection company and its inspectors can be difficult over the phone. Larger companies often use a call center staffed by people who may not be very familiar with the home inspection industry and can only answer a few basic questions. They are trained to push you to schedule. Smaller, owner-operated firms will personally answer your call or return it if they are in the field. They will give you more useful input because they are the ones that will do the work.
Bottom line, you want to talk to the owner or an experienced home inspector with the company to get a full understanding of what you can expect from the inspection. You want answers to the following questions:
- What services do you provide?
- What will you inspect, and what will you not inspect?
- How much experience will our home inspector have?
- How long will the home inspection take?
- How much will it cost?
- Can we be there for the inspection?
- When will we get the inspection report?
- What will be included in the report?
- Will you give us advice on how to fix issues?
- Can you provide us with a sample report?
- Will you give us a voice-to-voice debrief post-inspection?
- Will you be available for questions after the inspection?
- What if you miss something?
- How do you go above and beyond TREC’s minimum requirements?
If you’re talking to the right person, you should get quick, clear answers to these questions. You can learn more about what answers to look for in these blog posts:
- Selecting a Home Inspector? Ask These 13 Questions.
- The Most Important Question to Ask a Home Inspector Before You Hire
- A Simplified Home Inspection Checklist for Buyers
- The Most Important Questions to Ask a Home Inspector
4. Analyze Inspection Reports
The inspection report is the most valuable tool you have for negotiating with the seller for repairs or financial concessions. And TREC only requires minimal information on a basic template. The report template lists the components TREC requires inspectors to assess, and inspectors are only required to provide high-level information: Did they inspect this component (yes or no)? Did the component pass or fail? What defects were found?
Many home inspection companies provide only this low level of information to potential home buyers. Minimal detail about the inspector’s findings. No photos, videos, or advice about how to address issues, none of which are required by TREC. Make sure to get a sample inspection report from each of the companies on your shortlist and confirm that your inspection report will look like the sample. Look for detail, photos, videos, and useful advice to make sure they will go above and beyond TREC’s requirements.
5. Don’t Choose Less than the Best
Home inspections in North Texas range from $500 to $1,000, which is such a small investment when you are about to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home that you will live in for years to come. Find the inspector you feel good about based on your research and interviews. Compare his costs with those of other inspection companies, and if they’re not dramatically different, stick with the company and inspector that sits at the top of your shortlist. You will not regret it.
Please reach out to us for more information about how we can provide top-notch home inspection services at reasonable prices with high-quality customer service.
About Our Licensed Dallas Home Inspections
Keith Boggs is the owner of Stonebriar Property Inspections. He is your personal home inspector, and his investment in the company will be reflected in the quality of your inspection. Mr. Boggs’ inspection reports are professional, comprehensive, detailed, and clear. They average about 60 pages, include 100 to 200 color images, and include detailed findings, recommendations, tips, and best practices for maintaining your home. Buyers also receive a full video debrief explaining all findings. Stonebriar Property Inspection’s customer reviews speak to Keith’s reputation as an ethical, reliable, and courteous Dallas home inspector. Stonebriar Property Inspections is fully licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission for home inspections and the Texas Department of Agriculture for termite/wood destroying insect inspections.