Home inspectors are a dime a dozen. In Gainesville and Alachua County alone there are around 30 licensed home inspectors. Many more are joining with each year. Every few months I get an email or phone call from a newly licensed inspector in the area looking to get hired on or looking to do some ride-alongs to get experience. Despite the amount of inspectors available in the areas, the majority of the inspection work goes to only a handful of companies that are well established, and/or continually network with professionals in the real estate world. Commonly, home buyers who go under contract and are looking for a home inspector will ask their realtors for recommendations but, what do you do with those recommendations? Many will argue that all home inspections are the same but, if you call and talk to a few different companies you will find they are all quite different in the scope, depth, knowledge, and experience they all offer. Just as a home inspection is part of you due diligence when purchasing a new home, researching your home inspector choices should be part of your due diligence to ensure you’re getting the home inspection you expect in Gainesville. Today, I’d like to present you with some helpful tips to assess different home inspectors to make sure you are getting inspection you deserve!
Knowledge and Experience
In Florida, to become a licensed Home Inspector, you only need to complete the prescribed coursework, take the certifying exam, and hold general liability insurance. There are several organizations that offer the 120-hour coursework even some that will do it over a week’s time. Having the knowledge to pass the Home Inspector’s exam in Florida does not necessarily mean an individual has the knowledge and experience to provide an exceptional home inspection. Many home inspectors come from the construction trades and have years of construction experience their knowledge falls back on.
This is incredibly beneficial with purchasing an older home which will not be current to today’s construction standards that new inspectors are educated on. Just because your home is older, doesn’t mean it’s in poor condition, and an experience inspector will be able to tell you what issues are age related and what should be brought up to current standards for safety improvements. Like many established inspectors, my background in construction and remodel work spans over 15+ years with an additional 10 years testing and certifying building construction materials for the State.
They Have the Tools, But Do They Know How to Use Them
The inspector’s toolbag can be as simple as a few basic hand tools. The licensing requirements for Home Inspectors in Florida states we can go beyond the minimum standards as long as we are skilled and knowledgeable to do so. If an inspector you’re considering hiring was a former electrician or HVAC technician, they should be able to provide you with a more in-depth analysis of those specific systems and will have additional tools to aid them in that. It is worth asking what their background is and how they apply that to their inspection process. The most basic tools require for the job is a screwdriver, a receptacle tester, and a flashlight. That’s it! A basic, visual only home inspection in Gainesville can be performed with only these tools however, there are many other pieces of equipment that are vital to completing an in-depth inspection. Thermometers, electrical multimeters, thermal camera, moisture meters, gas analyzers, etc., can all be a part of the inspector’s toolbag. What’s important to know is that, just because an inspector has the latest and greatest tools and equipment, they may not be proficient in the use of them. Having an expensive looking thermal camera, a drone, even a sewer camera can be great additional investigative tools, but all these pieces of equipment require additional training and experience to use them properly. Asking your inspectors what tools and equipment they use, and specifically what that equipment will tell them, can help you find an inspector who can not only go above and beyond, but provide you with crucial information using that equipment. We use a variety of tools and equipment to assess your home including advanced equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, HVAC manifold gauges, combustion gas analyzers, and refrigerant and gas leak detection equipment. All equipment we use on-site our inspectors are supplementally trained on. We hold additional certifications in thermal imaging, air quality, and hold EPA qualifications for refrigerant systems.
Standing Behind Their Work
There are may warranty programs associated with the real estate market. Home buyer warranties are common and may be included with your purchase through your agent or the sellers. Many home inspectors also offer warranties that cover a period of time after the inspection is completed. Like all warranties, the ones your home inspector may offer will have limitation and exclusions and generally will not cover anything that is found in the home inspection report. Our experience is that these warranties are not worth offering to our clients. Warranties aside, you can still find an incredible inspector who will stand behind their work on their own. Home inspectors are required in Florida to have general liability insurance. If they hold additional licenses they may also need to have professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance. Finding an inspector with both will increase your confidence that if something major develops after the inspection, the inspector is covered and you may have a better chance of a favorable solution. General liability will cover damage the inspector causes during the inspection, but on professional liability will cover something they missed after an inspection. Many inspectors will limit their liability to the cost of the inspection so an inspector with professional liability insurance has taken those extra steps to put coverage in place in the event they miss something big. Another things to look for is an inspector that will stand behind their work. Many will offer a money-back guarantee or cover the cost of repairing issues they missed during the inspection. While generally not needed, finding an inspector that is willing to put out such a guarantee can be a sign that they will be more thorough and detailed to limit the potential future cost to them. While we do not offer additional warranties because of the limitations and exclusions, we are fully covers with both general and professional liability well over the State required minimums. We also offer a money-back promise if we missed anything significant that requires repairs.
Personality and Approachability
As mentioned, many inspectors come from the trades. Transitioning from a construction background into a professional background can be difficult for some since there is an increased need for direct client interaction. You should feel comfortable with your inspector and feel like you can come to them with any questions you may have even if you think the answer is obvious. Inspectors are generally quite busy, but they should be able to return a call, email, or text within a few hours during their normal business hours. Home inspections are a professional service and as such, your inspector should be professional on the phone, at your home, and through email or text correspondence. With all our clients, our goal is to be there long after your inspection is completed. I am personally available by phone and email from as early as 7am until into the evening most days of the week.
Gone When the Job is Done?
Home inspectors in Gainesville offer a variety of services even after you purchase your home. They can be great for diagnosing problems such as roof leaks before calling in the roofer so you know you’re getting an un-baised opinion, or determining where insulation should be added to help increase energy efficiency. They can also help you assess your home each year as it ages to track the condition of systems and plan for eventual upgrades and replacements. Many inspectors are also experienced in new construction and remodeling and can provide you insight and inspections during new home construction and renovations to ensure your contractors are giving you the quality product you expect. Once your home inspection is completed, your inspector shouldn’t just disappear, they should be available should you have any questions that come up later. Commonly, we get calls from clients months after they close to discuss things from the report they are working on getting fixed or upgraded. Also, we commonly work with many clients over and over again for insurance inspection, and investment properties.
Choosing a home inspector when you purchase a new home in the Gainesville, Florida area can be overwhelming. Following these tips and reaching out inspectors yourself can help you understand the differences between the services they all offer, how they can use their knowledge to assess your home, and what level of depth and detail they provide. You spent time touring different houses and discussing with your realtor your needs, so be sure to do your due diligence on your home inspector options so you can feel comfortable knowing you’re purchasing the right home for you.