Home inspectors soon must have a license

Forty-plus years ago, professional home inspections didn’t exist. Real estate sales contracts had no references to inspecting the house or what to do if the buyer found something wrong.

Today, all that has changed — for the better. Home inspectors have become central to the real estate transaction. Let’s look at what home inspectors do and don’t do.

In 1976, there were a few people (mostly in big cities) who called themselves home inspectors, and they banded together and formed ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors). It was still 10-plus years later before our area saw its first ASHI-certified home inspector.

Today, there are a few other professional societies of home inspectors with the same general goals. First and foremost they strive to provide an unbiased inspection of the home to determine its present condition.

One huge change is that as of Nov. 1, 2019, home inspectors in Ohio must be licensed. In addition, they will be mandated to take continuing education, enter into written contracts with clients, and Realtors must offer their clients at least three home inspectors from which to choose. The goal here is to provide more assurances that buyers have a choice and access to a qualified home inspection.

Home inspectors are tasked with looking at every visible part of a house from the roof, through the attic to the basement. A good inspection takes hours, sometimes consuming two to five man hours on larger homes. They are not limited to the house; inspectors look around the landscaping, yards and driveways because many problems in the home are caused by poor drainage, overhanging trees or overgrown landscaping. They will test for carbon monoxide, mold, water pressure and more. They perform non-destructive tests, meaning they can’t cut holes in the walls to look for insulation, pull up carpet to see if the wood floor is rotten, or drill homes in the garage floor to see how thick the concrete is. Those are destructive tests.

Home inspectors want buyers to walk through the home with them. They provide many maintenance tips and answer questions. It is a two-to-five-hour class worth twice the price. They are there to let you know the condition of the home today. They may find clues to things that happened in the past, and help avoid problems in the future, but are most interested in the condition today. Many times, they identify a problem and suggest you have a qualified contractor look closer.

Home inspectors are not contractors who will offer you a price to fix things. While they may have some rule of thumb costs, they are no substitute for a repair bid from a qualified contractor. Your purchase contract should provide for a home inspection, and a timetable and process to get the home inspected as well as address problems.

Remember that no home is perfect. New construction needs inspected just the same as 100-year-old homes need it. Home inspectors are not looking to see if a home meets “code”, because building codes change every year. The home inspector is looking to give you an honest report about the condition of a home today; and that should be integral to every home sale.

This article was provided by the Warren Area Board of Realtors.