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Excerpt from The Miami Herald, Sunday, February 14, 1999

“Get inspection first, save money later”, Written by Barry Stone barry@housedetective.com

A BIS Inspection is a Sound Investment Not an Expense

Building Inspection Services (BIS) is the largest, unbiased inspection
company in the Southeast performing hundreds of inspections each month. For the last 30 years, companies such as ABC, NBC, and CBS as well as nationally recognized newspapers have hired BIS as experts for their investigative reports. In addition, BIS has provided expert testimony in County, State and even Federal Courts. In 1992, following the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, BIS was appointed by Miami-Dade County to serve as a member of the Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Q. Six months ago I purchased a large, 5-year-old home. Before closing, my agent insisted that I hire a professional home inspector but instead, I chose to hire a handyman for financial reasons. However, since taking possession, numerous plumbing and electrical problems have surfaced, requiring repairs in excess of $5000. Did I make a mistake and why didn’t this handyman who called himself a home inspector inspect my home property?

A. Your situation is indeed frustrating and unfortunately, occurs all too often. The answer to your question is that there are “home inspectors” and there are Home Inspectors. Home inspection is a relatively new profession and thus far is not regulated in most states, including Florida. At present, anyone can claim to be a home inspector because licensing and certification are not required. Therefore, buyers must exercise extreme care and consideration before hiring just anyone.

"Avoid Price Shopping: Home inspection fees vary widely. Lower fees should be regarded with suspicion, as they often identify those who are new to the business or who do not spend sufficient time performing the inspection."

To begin, I would recommend the following criteria:

  • Professional Affiliations: In most areas, the only practical standards for home inspectors are those enacted by professional associations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors and various other state organizations. Membership requires adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing education.
  • When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in one of these recognized guilds. Inspectors who claim adherence to ASHI standards but who are not actual ASHI members are avoiding professional accountability and should be viewed with caution.
  • Inspection Experience: Of paramount importance is an inspector’s actual level of direct experience in the practice of home inspection. Any contractor who has done less then 1,000 inspections should be considered still an apprentice.
  • A general contractor’s license is an important credential, but when it comes to home inspection, a license to build indicates very little as it relates to competence as a property inspector.
  • Building Code Certification: Although the primary focus of a home inspection is not code compliance, many of the conditions evaluated by a home inspector have their basis in code-related building standards. To ensure that an inspector is competent in this area of building knowledge, it is wise to seek someone with ICBO certification, the credential required of municipal building inspectors in most areas of the United States.
  • Ask For A Sample Report: The proof is in the product. What you’re looking for is a format that is not only detailed and comprehensive, but that is easily interpreted and that makes a clear distinction between defective building conditions and boiler-plate verbiage. Some reports are so heavily loaded with general building information and liability disclaimers that pertinent information about the property is obscured.
  • Let The Choice Be Yours: Don’t rely on others to choose an inspector for you. New and inexperienced inspectors are often able to obtain professional recommendations, regardless of their actual levels of thoroughness, competence, or lack thereof.
  • What you want is the most meticulous, detailed home inspector available – the one who will save you from costly surprises after the closing. The best inspectors are often called “deal killers.” This tongue-in-cheek appellation generally connotes those inspectors who provide the best level of consumer protection.
  • Avoid Price Shopping: Home inspection fees vary widely. The price of a quality inspection generally falls between $250 and $300. Lower fees should be regarded with suspicion, as they often identify those who are new to the business or who do not spend sufficient time performing the inspection.