A home inspection is a vital part of the home buying process. Not only can it make or break a sale for the seller - for the buyer it can mean the difference between moving into your dream home or a money pit. That's why choosing the right home inspector is paramount.

While your Realtor can point you in the right direction, you'll want to do your own homework to make sure you choose someone who is qualified and impartial.

Don't wait until your offer is accepted before choosing an inspector.

"As a buyer, you'll want to make sure you're hiring the best professional possible. You don't want to rush the process. If you choose a home inspector ahead of time, you'll be more confident you're getting an accurate picture of a home's condition," said Kazantzis Real Estate Owner and Agent Andrea Kazantzis.

Ask for Referrals

Consumer Reports recommends asking friends who have recently purchased a home whether they recommend the person they used. 

"You can also find referrals through local online communities such as NextDoor or Patch, where members sometimes post their experiences," Consumer Reports said.

In addition, consider consulting crowdsourcing sites like Yelp or Angie's List.

"Once you've narrowed down your list, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the inspector has any complaints," Kazantzis said. 

Inspect Your Inspector

You may also want to ask the inspector for a sample of a previous inspection report, so you can see how thorough they were.

"I’d also suggest a buyer ask the inspector how long it takes them to inspect an average-sized home. If it’s less than an hour, they probably aren’t very thorough and this could cost the buyer to make expensive repairs down the road," said Kazantzis Real Estate Agent Val MacNeil. 

You may also want to ask the inspector what kind of technology they use. Some inspectors use drones to better inspect roofs.

"A good septic inspector will use a camera to find flaws in the system. Someone who only uses a mirror as a visual isn’t going to detect what a camera can," MacNeil said.

Kazantzis Real Estate Agent Deb Prevost said the inspector should also know the area and be able to recommend different types of inspections.

"For example, radon can be more active in some areas than others. The inspector should know that," Prevost said. 

Check Licensing & Certifications

While it's not a guarantee your inspector is top-notch, finding someone who is both licensed and certified can validate your decision.

If your state requires licensing for home inspectors, ask to see proof of licensing from the inspectors you’re considering hiring. 

You may also want to consider choosing an inspector who is certified by a professional organization and who backs up their report with a warranty.

According to CT Pro Inspection, "a Certified Inspection Expert is an elite category of Inspector who is held to a higher standard, and as such excels beyond standard industry practices to bring greater value to clients and the community."

Certified experts will often provide clients with a "100% money-back guarantee, recall reports, home warranties, or other coverage beyond a home inspection."

While the right inspector should be licensed and knowledgeable in areas including, structural, mechanical, wood-boring insects, water and septic, chimneys, radon, mold, and lead, Prevost said they should be honest about their own limitations.

"They should also know when they should recommend a licensed insured professional to further inspect items beyond their scope."

Related Links:

Connecticut Association of Home Inspectors