How to Look

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Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

   So, how do you know who is the best choice and what is the right price to pay? We can’t give you any definitive answers, but here’s our best advice for sorting through your options:

  1. 1)The cheapest inspector is probably not your best choice, but don’t rule out anyone because of a low fee either. Inspectors that are new to the business often set a bargain rate to get the flow of work started, and what they lack in experience can be often offset by their diligence and eagerness to go the extra mile to satisfy customers.
    Conversely, expect to pay more for an inspector with years of experience and a long list of educational credentials, but the guy who’s priced way above his competitors is not necessarily the best. Generally, the middle to upper end of the price range is where you will find your best combination of price, experience and service.

  2. 2)Home inspectors, like doctors and hairdressers, are in a personal service business. An inspector’s ability to connect with you on a personal level and communicate clearly is as important as their price. A brief phone conversation with the inspector will tell you a lot about how well you will get along.

  3. 3)Take a few minutes to scan a sample inspection report. One can usually be downloaded from the website or emailed on request. Expect the sample to be fluffed-up a little, with more defect explanations and pictures than you will find in their average report, but the format is important. Is it easy to read and understand, or mostly a compilation of boiler-plate text and home maintenance tips?
    Look for a summary section that restates all the defects that require further evaluation and/or repair. A summary makes it easy for you and your realtor to get an overview of the major findings, and also make a list of repair requests if you have a repair allowance in your real estate contract.

  4. 4)The better home inspectors belong to a national association. There are three major national groups: the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). Also, several regional associations, such as the Florida Association of Building Inspectors (FABI). Each group has educational and experience standards for membership, along with annual continuing education requirements. The continuing education is especially important nowadays, because of rapidly evolving building codes and construction technology.

  5. 5)An inspector with building construction experience is always a good choice, and a licensed building contractor is even better. A building contractor has a kind of x-ray vision when it comes to understanding what’s behind the walls and under the floor, making it easier to interpret the symptoms of a problem on the surface.

  6. 6)Home inspection is a licensed occupation in Florida and most other states. Look for a license listed at the website. In Florida, it will have the letters “HI” followed by a number. You can verify the license, and also check for any consumer complaints or disciplinary actions, at

  7. 7)Don’t agonize too much over your decision. In our area, at least, we know of no “bad” inspectors. Pick one that feels right and it will prove to be a good choice.


  To learn more valuable strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

  1. How can I make sure I don’t get screwed on my home inspection?

  2. Should I trust the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement?

  3. Can I do my own home inspection?

  4. How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a home over a sinkhole?

  5. What makes a house fail the home inspection?

  6. The seller gave me an old home inspection report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

  7. Why are expired building permits a problem for both the buyer and seller of a home?   

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

  1. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

  2. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  3. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

  4. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

  5. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

  6. What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property?

  7. What problems should I look when when buying a house that has been moved?

  8. What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

  9. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  10. What should I look for when buying a “flipper” house?

  11. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection

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  1. Should a home inspection scare you?

  2. What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

  3. Are you licensed and insured?

  4. We looked at the house carefully, and it seems alright. Do we really need a home inspection?

  5. Is a home inspection required?

  6. What is the difference between “character” and a defect in an old house?

  7. Should I be there for the inspection?

  8. What tools do you use for a home inspection?

  9. Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

  10. The seller has to fix everything you find wrong with the house, right?

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  12. Is it still possible to do an inspection if there’s no electricity or water?

  13. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  14. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

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  16. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

  17. What happens at a home inspection?

  18. Does the home inspector also check for termites?

  19. What different types of specialized inspections can I get?

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  24. Should the seller be at the home inspection?

  25. What is the average lifespan of a house?

  26. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  27. Should I use my realtor’s home inspector or choose one myself?

  28. Should I use a contractor or a home inspector to inspect a house I’m buying?

  29. Should I get a home inspection before signing a contract to buy the house?

  30. Can a home inspector do repairs to a house after doing the inspection?

  31. What is a “continuous load path”?

  32. When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?

  33. Should I only hire an inspector that is a member of a national association like ASHi, InterNACHI, or NAHI?

  34. What is a “cosmetic” defect in a home inspection?

  35. Where are the funny home inspection pictures?

  36. Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection?

  37. Why do realtors call some home inspectors “deal killers”?

  38. How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

  39. Does my home have to be inspected to get insurance?

  40. Who should pay for the home inspection?

  41. Can you do a home inspection in the rain?

  42. What are the most Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) at a home inspection?

  43. What are the common causes of ceiling stains in a house?

  44. Does a home inspector give cost estimates for repairs?

  45. Do home inspectors inspect outbuildings?

  46. Are there any minimum inspection standards that a Florida licensed home inspector must meet?

  47. Can a Florida licensed contractor do home inspections without having a home inspector license?

  48. What inspections does a bank or mortgage lender need for loan approval?

  49. Should I buy a house that has been remodeled/renovated without building permits or has open permits?