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How to Choose a Home Inspector

Jul 01, 2017


There’s a consistent phenomenon that happens among my clients.

Almost without fail, every time a client does not take my advice to hire a certified RHI (Registered Home Inspector) professional home inspector, they do not hire me again in the future. The ones who do hire an RHI professional inspector though, are happy to continue with me and continually refer me to family, friends and colleagues. 

Why do you suppose that is?

I’ve thought and wondered about it, and think I figured it out.

In my over 25 years in this industry, I’ve had many clients who wanted their tradesmen dad, uncle, cousin, or friend to inspect their home for them. After all, they’ve built houses or they’re electricians, so, obviously, they know houses, right?



3 Problems with Getting Family or Friends to Inspect


They Don’t Know Jack

Uncle Frank may be the best electrician or home builder on this side of the Atlantic, but he doesn’t know jack about many other systems. Heating, and cooling are one field. Knowing of structural or to assess the roof is another as is plumbing. There is so much to assess and inspect in a home, and most of it will be beyond Uncle Frank’s understanding.

Uncle Frank desperately wants to do his very best, but  he’s not trained or continually updating his knowledge.  If he doesn’t have years and decades of actual field experience and multiple inspections throughout the year, where is that theory solidified into thorough, up-to-date understanding of building codes, how new rules affect those codes, etc, etc, etc. He’s just out of his element. 

They’re Emotional

First, they are emotionally connected to the buyer, so will find fault with anything in order to “protect” their family or friend. The house being considered could be the Taj Mahal and it would still have fault in their eyes. This doesn’t lend itself to an unbiased assessment of the property. Imagine a buyer eager and excited to buy a house, and picky, critical Uncle Frank tearing it down in front of them. It can create frustration or tension between family members.

They Are Not Liable for Costly Mistakes

Uncle Frank isn’t bonded or insured. He doesn’t have the insurance inspectors I have on my recommended list need to possibly protect them from mistakes. If he doesn’t catch the weak structural integrity or the roof ends up leaking or collapsing that could have been discovered visually, the buyer won’t have any recourse. Besides the tens of thousands of dollars that then fall on the buyer’s shoulders, tensions rise too. Bitterness, blame, and anger flare. Maybe Uncle Frank even gets sued by the buyer. It will be one very awkward Christmas gathering.


How to Choose a Professional Home Inspector

1. Decide What KIND of Inspection You Want

Did you know there are different kinds of inspections? And different people qualified to conduct them?

If all you want a thorough inspection of a particular mechanical component (air conditioning, plumbing, heating, for example), hire a professional in that field.  
If it’s only a structural element you want looked at, like the roof, hire a qualified roofing company or structural engineer. (Highly recommended: a structural engineer who has their P. Eng stamp as they have to be bonded). 

For a general, overall inspection, seek out an RHI – this is the highest designation available to home inspectors who are members of CAHPI, Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors and demonstrates they’ve completed their training, have at least 250 fee paid inspections under their belt (that have been reviewed) and continued their education beyond the minimum requirements. With an RHI, you know you’re getting a committed and well trained professional.


2. Research

Yes, I’m afraid so. It will take a little effort to confirm the professional you’re considering is an active member of industry associations. Look on their website for badges, logos, and mentions (commonly on the home page or about page). You can even ask the association if they are an active member in good standing. Check the Better Business Bureau too, if there is a record or if they’re a member. Google their name and read the reviews. 

3. Get Recommendations

Your real estate agent will likely have a list of reputable inspector's.  Don’t be afraid to ask or take their advice. (And no, your agent does not benefit from recommending other professionals . it is against their rules of conduct.) After decades of crossing paths with many different kinds of inspectors, I’ve come across some stunning examples of professionalism and make sure my clients know about them. (I'd be happy to tell you about it.)


It’s bizarre to me that people won’t shop around for a better mortgage rate and end up paying tens of thousands of extra dollars in interest, but they reeeeeally want to get Uncle Frank in the mix to save a couple of hundred dollars. I really don’t understand that! 

What I do know is that I’m pretty sure I know why those clients don’t return.

Remember, the ones who refuse to take my advice, and end up hiring Uncle Frank anyway?

I’m pretty certain the reason they don’t return for the next sale or purchase is that their awkward, frustrating, or costly experience of asking Uncle Frank to ‘take a look at the place’ had something to do with it.  


Category: Buying a Home

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