Residential Home Inspector Interview Questions

OK.... You're real-estate agent has given you two or three residential home inspectors to choose from, or maybe you've got a list of referalls from friends, or whatever. How do you narrow it down further? We suggest a phone interview. Call up the inspector and find out how he/she responds to some key questions. You're not only looking for the "right" answer, but you're also looking for someone who communicates well. Remember your inspector has to be able to explain clearly to you any problems with your house. He/she needs to be able to put items into context (is this a big deal or not?). Here are a few questions and some sample answers to give you some structure to that interview.

1. What do you feel is the purpose of the home inspection?

CJR Answer: We feel that it is two fold. It is the opportunity for you to learn about your house (or prospective house), about the maintenance that is required and about necessary repairs. It is also a chance to identify issues with your home that need to be resolved before settlement. Every house has some problems. It is the resedential home inspector's job to find the significant ones and put them in the proper perspective for you to be able to make informed decisions and for you to be equipped to maintain your home in good working order.

2. What do you look for in a home inspection?

CJR Answer: A home inspection is primarily a visual inspection. We can't see into walls, but we'll look for available clues for the health of the house. We evaluate the foundation, structure, roof, plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical. We also look at the grounds and exterior for safety and long-term maintnence items. We do not do a "code" inspection, but much of the code is written for safety and we do look for safety issues as well as structural integrity of the house.

3. What standards do you follow?

CJR Answer: We follow the American Society of Home Inspectors Standards of Practice. ASHI is a national organization and there standards are widely accepted as the industry standard.

3. How do you report your findings? When can I expect the report?

CJR Answer: We like for you to participate in the home inspection. Walk around with us, ask us a bunch of questions, make sure you're comfortable with your new home. In order to facilitate this we use a checklist created by Inspection Training Associates (ITA) called the "Matrix". The checklist allows us to focus on your questions as we go through the house and still not inadvertently skip something. As we fill out the Matrix we flag items of interest. We take those flagged items and create an electronic summary with pictures that explains the problem and the recommended solutions. We print that summary out at your house and you get both the annotated Matrix checklist and the electronic summary with pictures nicely packaged in a three-ring binder before we leave.

4. Why should I choose you over another residential home inspector?

CJR Answer: With us you get a thorough inspection from two qualified home inspectors. We almost always send two residential home inspectors. So you get two sets of eyes, knowledge, and experience. Our goal is not to get done quickly, our goal is give you the inspection you need. This is a big move for you and we want to provide you with the most thorough support we can. We are available after the inspection (5 minutes, 5 months, or 5 years later) to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Our residential home inspectors are men of integrity. You will find us honest, hard-working, and dedicated to you, our client.

5. How long will the home inspection take?

CJR Answer: There are a lot of factors that can effect that. The size of the house, its age, and your involvement in the inspection. Time is not the goal. If we have to go to another inspection, we'll split up and one of us will stay with you until your inspection is complete, no matter how long it takes. All that said, the average sized house takes about 3 to 5 hours including the debrief to you.

6. How much does the home inspection cost?

Note: If your shopping for cost, be careful. Choosing the cheapest (or most expensive) may not give you the best inspection. It seems logical, however, to ask the residential home inspector this question. In our area some inspectors charge by a percentage of the sales price, some charge by square footage.

CJR Answer: Our prices are based on the size (in finished square feet) and location of your house. We also charge a little more for older houses as we tend to have to spend more time sorting through post construction changes in the house. Payment is due at the inspection. We accept cash or check. Our Price list


In conclusion, you are looking for a residential home inspector you can trust. For someone who can articulate problems and put them into the correct context. Listen for those traits as you conduct your interview. Remember, the interview is the last step in the process. Your other research has already led you to good candidates for your home inspection.



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