I see that a lot of people shop for inspections by price. They may be spending $500,000 for a home but opt to find the cheapest inspection they can find. What's wrong with this picture? Making a major investment without getting the full particulars about that investment seems a bit wrong headed to me. ALL INSPECTIONS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL! That may bear repeating; ALL INSPECTIONS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. There is an old adage that "you get what you pay for". In inspections this is very true. Someone is doing cutrate inspections for a reason (usually they are trying to buy their way into the business). It is unlikely that someone who values their service so low will do a very thorough inspection.
A better way to shop for inspections is to look at the background, experience and reputation of the inspector. Certainly being a member of a National Organisation is a plus, but no guarantee. Do they have E&O along with General Liability insurance? Do they have any construction related background (again no guarantee, but I would want someone who has a good understanding of how houses are built)? Are they formally trained? Classroom training with hands on experience doing supervised inspections is best. I would be wary of online training. Do they price their inspections appropriately? (This means, do they value what they do? If they value what they do, they are more likely to want to do a thorough job). Lastly, do they actually spend an appropriate amount of time doing the inspection. In Washington, with Home Inspectors also doing WDO (wood destroying organisms) it is very hard to do a single family home in under three hours (that does not include report writing time). Larger homes, and older homes (locally up to about 120 years) will take longer, and should cost more for the inspection.
David Helm, Inspector