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 How do you know Who is a Qualified Home Inspector?

Massachusetts has finally undertaken to license home inspectors.   However, home buyers should carefully review an inspector's background and credentials to further determine if he or she has the appropriate training and professional ethics to perform home inspections.

Massachusetts does not allow real estate salespeople to recommend Home Inspectors.  By law, for obvious reasons, a Buyer's Agent is the only one who may recommend a home inspector to you.  Buyer Agents are the exception to the rule.  

Home inspectors have reported a significant pick-up in pre-purchase inspection, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the most respected national organization of independent home inspectors….

What are the most common house problems buyers can expect to find?

In homes 20 years and older, ASHI experts say that roof shingles, electrical wiring, and surface water drainage systems are the items most commonly cited on inspection reports as needing repair or modification.

In new construction, inspectors frequently find water seepage into basement/cellar or crawl space, inadequate attic ventilation, poor roof construction, and substandard masonry and finish work.

    Are there any environmental hazards present in the home?

In response to a growing awareness of the dangers posed by certain substances, such as radon gas, asbestos fiber, and mold, many consumers are paying extra to have special tests performed to make sure their new home doesn't pose a health hazard to them and their family.  Although a standard ASHI home inspection does not include environmental items, many home inspectors offer environmental assessment as an optional service, or recommend further evaluation.

    What is the difference between a home inspection and an engineering inspection?  Which is appropriate for the home buyer?

Considerable confusion surrounds this question, particularly since in some areas, home inspections have been inadvertently referred to as engineering inspections or evaluations, and engineers sometimes perform home inspections.  But the two, according to home inspection and engineering authorities, are actually quite different.

Engineering evaluations are usually specialized by discipline (such as chemical, structural, electrical) and involve exhaustive scientific measurements and calculations for confirm the design of the systems.  Home inspections, on the other hand, tell buyers what they really need to know:  "what is the condition of the home today?". 

The home inspection, performed by a professional engineer (P.E.) or a non-engineer professional inspector does not involve engineering analysis of the original design, but deals instead with the in-service operation or failure of a home's systems and components, as well as the type of maintenance that has been and should be performed.  It is based on established criteria of performance and training specific to the home inspection profession.

Ask your own Home Inspection Questions and get your answers and answers to previously asked questions from the House Detective