A professional home inspection can tell you whether obvious defects are signs of major problems and discover hidden defects that could be costly to fix.

You can most commonly find an excellent professional home inspector in your area by asking for a referral from friends, business associates or someone you know who recently bought a home.

A professional home inspector will methodically examine the exterior and interior condition of the home. Outside, he or she will examine the roof, chimney, soffits and fascia, gutters and downspouts, bricks/mortar/paint, windows, doors, porches, decks and the foundation.

Inside, the inspector will examine the basement, if applicable, for signs of mold and water. He or she will survey wall condition, see if bathroom and kitchen fixtures are in good working order, and also inspect the electromechanical features of the home, including heating, air conditioning, plumbing and pipes.

Here is a list of questions to ask that will help you find a qualified inspector:

  • Are you a full-time certified property inspector?
  • How many inspections have you performed?
  • What are your certifications?
  • Can you provide at least three references?
  • May I see a sample report? (It should be with narrative — not just a checklist).
  • Do you have “errors/ omissions” insurance that covers a problem that is missed?
  • May I be present during the home inspection? (only accept a yes to this question)
  • What is the cost of the home inspection?

A professional home inspector is trained to conduct inspections only and does not do corrective work. It is a good idea to be present and available during the property inspection.