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Home Inspection process raises various questions

home-inspectionWendy Phillips, Courier Columnist
October 29, 2004

Before Randy started writing a column for The Daily Courier he was interviewed by Courier Columnist Wendy Phillips. This interview is older, but most of the information is still relevant.

 

  • What goes on in a home inspection?

    Home inspectors in Arizona are licensed by the Board of Technical Registration (BTR). The BTR has Standards of Professional Practice that all inspectors must comply with. The standards set the minimum standards for home inspections: and most inspectors exceed the standards in some areas. Among other items, the standards require a home inspector to provide a written report that states what type of foundation, wiring, plumbing, etc., exists in the home.

    During a home inspection, the inspector will open all electrical panels, enter the crawlspace and attic, if there is one, examine the roof, and operate the furnace and air conditioner, for example. The standards also list items that the home inspector is not required to inspect or operate, such as mold or other environmental concerns, and timer controlled devices, for instance. A copy of the Standards of Professional Practice is available from any home inspector, or at the BTR website at btr.state.az.us.

  • How do I know who to use?

    The homeowner should talk with a couple of different inspectors. Some important questions to ask when interviewing home inspectors would be: How long have you been a home inspector? How many “real” home inspections have you performed in our area? How long are you on site? What type of report do you deliver? (A “checklist” report is a check-the-box type that does not take long to prepare, A narrative report is a typed-out report, usually with digital pictures.) Are you a member of any professional organizations? For example, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI is the oldest and largest professional organization of home inspectors with over 6,000 members. ASHI requires more to be a “certified member” than Arizona requires, including continuing education each year. Arizona adopted the Arizona Chapter of ASHI (AZASHI) Standards of Professional Practice as the official state standards.

  • Do I really need a home inspection – can’t I just look the house over myself?

    Home inspecting is a unique profession. To be a certified home inspector (CHI) in Arizona, you must pass a state approved school, pass the national home inspector exam, perform 30 “training” inspections, and submit reports for review with your application. Not all the people in the building industry have this special training. Home inspections also require specialized equipment, such as a digital infrared thermometer, carbon monoxide detector, gas leak tracer, and non-intrusive moisture detector. Like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for. For most people, their home is their most expensive purchase; do you want to save a hundred dollars on a home inspection?

  • How long does a home inspection take?

    A thorough inspection on a 2,000-square-foot home should take at least three hours, sometimes more (sometimes a lot more!). This depends a lot on the construction and features. For example, does the house have an accessible attic (add at least 20 minutes), accessible crawlspace (add up to 30 minutes), gas appliances, outbuildings, or unusual features?

  • Should I be there for the inspection?

    Most inspectors welcome the client to accompany them during the entire inspection. My personal policy is to have the client arrive at the end of the inspection. I have several reasons for this. One is that I’m responsible for this home while I’m on site, and cannot be with the clients the entire time (the clients are not going to enter the attic or crawlspace with me). I don’t want the clients there until I can give them my undivided attention. Also I won’t have all the answers until I complete the inspection, including walking the roof and entering the attic and crawlspace. Until then I may not know what that valve is for or what caused that stain.

  • Does the seller have to fix everything that is wrong?

    Absolutely not!! I’m not sure what started this mis-conception. In answer to the question, “What is the worst part of my job?” my reply is: When a client takes my report and asks the seller to fix every item. This is not the intent of the report. I cannot say it any better than the Standards of Professional Practice for Arizona Home Inspectors: “Inspections performed to these standards shall provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.” (See the next item, as these questions are related.)

  • What do I do with the information?

    I call my reports a combination honey-do list and owners manual. A good inspection report will tell you where the gas and water valves are, where the furnace filter is, information on special or unique features in your home, areas that may require special attention or maintenance, items that may need replacing soon, etc. Of course, the report will also detail repairs or improvements that are necessary immediately, but this does not mean the seller has to improve them. This information will help you make a better decision on buying your home.

    The buyer must remember there is no perfect home. Home A may have an older furnace and roof, but may have new upgraded windows and a low maintenance exterior. Home B may have a new roof and furnace, but may need exterior paint and some updating in the kitchen.