Mark Shanaman


Home Inspection

How to Hire a Qualified Home Inspector, Berks and Chester County PA?


The home buying landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Years ago  home inspections were unheard of in residential real estate transactions. Instead, buyers simply relied on their own impressions of the home and the representations of the seller's real estate agent.  Today, most Berks and Chester county PA real estate purchase contracts give the buyer the right to order one or more professional inspections of the home before completing the purchase.   This is very important to consider in protecting you as a buyer!

The right to have inspections comes with the challenge of hiring a diligent, qualified, and competent home inspector.   Finding and hiring the right person isn't as easy as it may seem.   A good real estate agent should be willing and able to recommend several well-qualified home inspectors. The tricky part is selecting the best candidates among the group. Here are six (6) of the many factors to consider:

1. Qualifications. Ask open-ended questions about the inspector's training and experience as it relates to home inspections. The inspector should have some training in construction and building maintenance standards.  Also check to make sure they are a good standing member of ASHI or other national association of home inspectors. This may be a requirement of the contract terms as well. Depending on the location and age of the home, you may need to hire an inspector who's qualified to deal with asbestos, lead-based paint or other potentially hazardous substances. You may also need to hire a geologist or structural engineer, if you notice structure cracks in the exterior or basement walls.

2. Scope.   Understand by asking the inspector which components are included in his or her inspection.   Will the inspector check out the roof and inspect the attic?  How about the swimming pool?  It is important to ensure your needs are being covered.

3. Sample report. Ask the home inspector to provide a sample of his or her checklist or inspection report.  Does the report include a narrative description or just check-off boxes?   Is the information presented and explained clearly, completely and provide information on what needs to be replaced or fixed prior to your purchase?   Does the report highlight any problems that could present a safety hazard?

4. References. It is important to ask the home inspector for the names and telephone numbers of several homeowners who have used his or her services. Call those people and ask them whether they were satisfied with the home inspection services and the report.  Ask the reference did the inspector miss anything which they later discovered after buying the home.  Make sure they provide at minimal 3 references from different time periods:  e.g. recent purchase and a few months or longer purchase.   

5. Education.  Ask if they have attended any recent trainings or received any new certifications.   It is important for home inspectors to keep up-to-date with latest industry practices and inspection standards.

6. Errors and omissions. Ask to make sure the home inspector has Errors and Omissions insurance.  Even top-notch inspectors are only human and can make errors or overlook problems they probably should have noticed. Ask about the their company's policy in such situations.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when hiring the right qualified home inspector.  A good quality real estate agent can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected!


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