The other day I did a post about being consulted to sort out some differences of opinion about some insect damage in a house.
I said at that time that I don't mind helping out with these types of forensic questions---after all the truth is just the truth---and most of the time houses are not rocket science.
In that post I took issue with the way the inspector used the English language to describe their findings and how what they said fell short of what was necessary to provide the best information to their client---and actually ended up freaking them out as well as the seller.
One problem I have had with these calls for a "second opinion" is that what do I do if the information is actually worse than what the inspector called out? Or what if, (as in this case) there was very little problem with what the other inspector called out but there was another larger bear that was not even reported on?
Now, the seller and the buyer get to be mad at two inspectors instead of one.
As an inspector I can't afford to pay too much attention to the story written by other inspectors---I simply have to tell the story the way I see it. What anyone does with that story is up to the reader.
This scenario is a reminder of just how difficult finding a good home inspector can be.
I do not envy the job that any home buyer has in finding a good home inspector.
It is no small task.
Here is a partial list of some of the things that can be included in your quest to find a better than average home inspector:
1. Ask your agent---this is a good starting point---really good agents will work with really good inspectors.
2. Do they belong to a reputable Home Inspector Association that requires a proctored membership exam as well as continuing education.
3. Do you have to jump through more than one hoop to contact them---i.e. is their phone number front and center?
4. Do they have a "functional" website (not just a page with their name on it---nor a website that is so complicated it is useless)?
5. Do they have a sample report on their website? Read it---does it look like the kind of information you are looking for, at the level of detail you are looking for, and is it written in the English language? (I think that comparing sample reports is one of the best ways of evaluating and or comparing home inspectors. You will get to see what you will end up with in written form. You may also be able to get a sense of whether the person you talked to on the phone is "consistent with" the person that wrote the report? If you get an answering service always ask to speak directly with the inspector---this initial conversation is very important.)
6. Do they have a blog? Read it---you will likely find out a great deal about the inspector, and what their relationship is to what they do.
7. Ask friends that have had inspections done---but be careful with this one---look at the reports and keep in mind that your friends may not have done their homework.
After this, all I can say is do your homework---and for extra credit and better results---do your homework twice.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector