How Much Should You Spend on a Home Inspection?
Well considering you are probably about to take on a 30 year mortgage to buy this house, whatever it takes!
Not all home inspectors are the same and not all home inspections will be equal. In my experience of litigating over a thousand home purchase disputes, I have seen a fair selection of home inspectors and their reports. I have developed some insight into ones I think were better than others.1
1. Pick Someone Who Has Worked With Houses in a Previous Craft or Trade. Like a former framer. Or carpenter. Or handyman. Right after Enron collapsed in Houston in 2001, the home inspection field picked up a few overqualified licensees from the ranks of Enron. One testified he had only been a home inspector for 6 months and he had no prior experience doing anything in homes other than his own.
2. Pick Someone Who Cares. I have met, interviewed and deposed some home inspectors who take the hardline position that the inspection is nothing more than a visual walk through. In other words, with a guide and some basic knowledge, you could do the same thing. But there are inspectors who take the job seriously and will actually look for problems and know where to anticipate them.
3. Engineers Top Non-Engineers. There are home inspectors out there that are actual engineers that work in residential cases and houses. I have met non-engineers that are probably better than most engineers because they have a lot of experience and background in identifying and solving house defects. But aside from them, the average engineer is a better choice than the non-engineer inspector. And they do cost more.
Go To The Inspection. Follow the inspector around and ask questions. Take notes. Take pictures. It's your house and he's your employee for the moment. Don't assume it will get better on its own.