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What to Look for In a Qualified Home Inspector: An Interview with Boston Home Inspectors

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

At BHI, we are committed to providing you with the highest level of service and advice. We understand the sense of urgency that you, the buyer, feel and are respectful of our time and needs. We treat each inspection as if the investment decision you must make were our own. We are experienced and have an excellent track record for delivering a thorough, quality inspection.

How did you get into this line of work?

As a young child, my father bought, fixed up and sold homes along with having a full time job. I remember on weekends having to help him paint and repair many things on the properties. During high school, I washed windows, painted garages and cleaned gutters for income. The business grew from their into a remodeling company with ten employees. In 1996 BU hired me to oversee a 50,000 sq ft renovation for them in Washington, D.C. When I returned at the end of 1996 I started Boston Home Inspectors and have been performing inspections since then.

How important is a proper home inspection?

The home buying process can be a stressful and emotional time. For many people, it's the single biggest investment that they'll ever make. A home inspector's objective and unbiased view will provide you with the information needed to make confident decisions regarding the suitability of the home and reduce the amount of risk involved. Every home has its secrets. A thorough home inspection will not only reveal these secrets, but also provide the home buyer with a degree of confidence in the purchase.

How much does the value of the home increase with a proper inspection?

Having a home inspection does not necessarily impact the value of the home, but it does give the buyer a better understanding of what they are purchasing.

What should customers look for in a qualified home inspector?

Is the inspector experienced?: A full-time inspector who performs 400 or more inspections per year and has many years of experience is most desirable.

Is the inspector knowledgeable?: An inspector must have full working knowledge of every system in a home. The more knowledgeable inspectors started with a degree in a field such as engineering or architecture that provides a broad background in general construction, or they were trained to operate as a general contractor. These are good bases to build from. A person does not acquire this kind of knowledge by taking a few courses or reading a book. A good rule of thumb is to look for 15 years of combined formal training and on-the-job experience in related fields.

Who referred you to the inspector?: The best referral is from someone you personally know and trust who was satisfied with the inspector's performance.

Which inspector will the inspection company send?: The reputation of the inspector assigned to your home as well as of the inspection company is important. Request that an experienced inspector, rather than a new one, be assigned.

Is the inspector covered by errors and omissions insurance and general liability insurance?: It is to your advantage that your inspector has this coverage. Do not be afraid to ask for a copy of the policies.

How long does the inspection take?: Ask how long the inspection will take. If the inspection takes less than one hour, find another inspector. Performing a thorough inspection can be very tiring, so try to arrange to be the first or second inspection of the day.

How much does the inspection cost?: A well-established, full-time professional inspector is going to be at the high end of the spectrum. But a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to get the best protection you can for the biggest purchase of your life.

What type of report do you get and when do you get it?: This depends on the inspection company. Any inspection should result in a signed report describing what was inspected and the condition of each inspected item. Some inspectors use a checklist. Others provide a handwritten description of the conditions found. Usually in both these cases, the reports will be delivered to you on-site. Still other inspectors supply computer-generated reports after the inspection, and you may want to ask up front how long you can expect to wait to get the report.

Should I look for an inspector who is affiliated with certain organizations?: There are many local, state, and national organizations that an inspector can join, as well as many franchises that an inspector can purchase. However, membership in any organization does not guarantee a quality inspector. In the end, the individual inspector's experience and knowledge will determine the quality of the inspection.

Other questions to consider: How many inspections has the inspector performed? Is the inspector specifically experienced in residential inspections? Can you call the inspector directly at a later date for information or advice? Does the inspector accept checks or credit cards? What type of testing equipment does the inspector use? If the seller repairs items discovered during the home inspection, will the inspector return to re-inspect, and what is the fee?

What are the most common mistakes made in the home inspection process?

The most common mistake is choosing an inspector based on price only. The least expensive inspector is often the inspector with the least experience, ability and technical savvy. If you were having heart surgery, do you want the least expensive doctor or the doctor with the most experience?

You really need to attend the home inspection to get a better understanding of how your house works and to be able to see the concerns that an inspector may find.

What should more people be doing in order to improve the condition of their house?

Simple, keep up on the ordinary maintenance in order to prevent a minor problem turning into a major repair.

What makes your inspection services better/different than other comparable companies?

Boston Home Inspectors strives to be more than just a home inspection service. We are committed to a purpose, values, and principles, and these guide us in doing what is right to best serve you, our customer.

At Boston Home Inspectors, we are proud of our reputation for thoroughness. We believe that a half-hearted inspection serves no one well. We schedule an adequate amount of time for each inspection so that we can give the detailed attention our job requires. We realize that the reputation of our business is at stake on every assignment. We neither magnify nor minimize problems we find. We identify them for you and put them into proper perspective.

How often should people be getting their house inspected?

It's good practice to have your home inspected every 5 years. The inspector will be able to provide you with a nice "to do list" and be able to stop potential problems. If your house has a crawl space, we recommend every 2-3 years.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Call or email our office manager Danielle at 617-464-1047 or to schedule an appointment.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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