Must read before hiring a home inspector in New Jersey

If you are buying a house in NJ, you're going to spend $200,000-1M+ dollars to purchase the home.

You search the internet and look for a qualified inspector. You click on a couple of home inspector sites, and maybe a couple of paid-for-placement advertisements. Home inspection is not a commodity. All home inspectors and the home inspections they provide are not created equal. Yes a soybean is a soybean and an apple is an apple. But there is a very large disparity between home inspectors, their experience and their knowledge. Poorly trained home inspectors are in the same marketplace with the very good home inspectors.

How do you know you are getting a qualified and experienced home inspector? Ask questions.

    1. How many home inspections have you performed?
      The home inspector should have completed a minimum of 1,000 fee-paid home inspections to even begin to be comfortable and competent. There is a very steep learning curve in the home inspection business. Much of what a home inspector learns is gained through field experience. One thousand is the number that one of the most reputable instructors suggested, and after more than 10 years experience, I wholeheartedly agree.

    2. Where did you learn to become a home inspector?
      This is a very cogent question to ask. Did he take an accelerated cram-style course that is short on information and even shorter on field work? Or did he commit to a comprehensive, long-term, professional program? What hands-on training and experience did his class provide? Inspecting the home of an instructor, in my view does not prepare one for this profession. In NJ anyone can become a licensed home inspector in as little as four weeks, and only one week of actual field training. Your kidding right? No I'm not. A person can obtain a professional home inspectors license in NJ by completing just 180 hours of classes and 40 hours of in the field training. Is this person the one you want inspecting your home?

      These poorly trained inspectors put up a website, pay for a few pay-per-click adds, and they are off and running. It is you, the unsuspecting home buyer who suffers. NJ law has made it very easy to become a home inspector. All it took was some money from lobbyists and presto, the home buyer's protection is gone due to the lesser licensing laws. Home inspector licensing was once there to protect you. Now, all it does is make the state a little more revenue.

    3. How many years have you been a full time professional home inspector?
      If the answer is one or two, be careful. Don't be fooled by years of "construction experience." Home inspectors are not contractors. These two professions require two very different skill sets. The truth of the matter is that those inspectors who trumpet the number of years of construction experience they have may not have any experience at all in actual construction. And, it is both the quality and quantity of home inspection experience that counts.

    4. Are you a member of the independent home inspectors of North America?
      Why is this important? For one very simple reason. Independent Home Inspectors do not market to real estate agents. We work for only you the home buyer, so there is no chance for conflict of interest. Our business grows with each satisfied client. When something is wrong, we tell you, verbally and in writing. If something is a hazard, we say so. If something in the home is failing, we inform you. Buying a home is probably the largest investment you'll ever make. It is not the time for ambiguity or word games.

    5. What is the fee for the home inspection?
      This question is last on the list, not first, because hiring a highly qualified home inspector is more important than price. A lower-priced home inspector may seem like a bargain at first. But rest assured that the right home inspector's work will save you much more both on the purchase of your home, and later on as a homeowner. A qualified, experienced home inspector can save you literally thousands of dollars and the home inspection will pay for itself many times over. Yes shop around, but don't make price your only criteria.

Here are my responses to these important questions:

    1. I have performed over 3,000 home inspections for satisfied clients.

    2. I was formally trained as a home inspector at the Morris County School of Technology. I did my classroom work with two of the most respected home inspectors in the state. The NJ Home Inspection Licensing program included 300 class room hours of study. Additionally, I performed 60 home inspections with a mentoring independent home inspector. This was over 240 hours of preliminary field work. Passing the state licensing test with a top score, I received an Associates NJ Home Inspectors License. For the next two years, I worked for a top NJ home inspection company, and earned my Full Home Inspection License. I stayed on with this company for an additional 5 years, and left on excellent terms. Today, I still have a very good relationship with my mentor, and owner of that company.

    3. I have been a full time professional home inspector for over ten years.

    4. I am an active member in good standing of Independent Home Inspectors of North America and keep my No Conflict Pledge current. Most of my business comes from referrals from satisfied clients, website, and real estate attorneys. Most home inspectors will never sign up for this. It is challenging to do business this way but it is the right way.

So when you are interviewing home inspectors, be sure to ask the right questions. It is your time to inspect the qualifications of the inspector.

John Martino
LookSmart Home Inspections
Home Inspectors Lic # 58700