I've written a couple of articles about the challenge of finding good home inspectors in Miami Beach since that industry is not regulated and anyone can call themselves a home inspector. I even told you about a time that an inspector said that Subterranean Termites eat concrete while I held my laughter back. So what protects you as a buyer, if not even inspections are thorough?
When I talk to recent Miami Beach Home Buyers and ask them about the whole buying process and especially the inspection process, most will say that they thought their inspections were thorough and they were happy with the process........that's until they actually move in and start finding all kinds of issues not disclosed to them during those inspections.
What makes a good home inspector?
My instincts tell me that the best home inspectors are those that have actually done construction or are in the construction industry (engineers, electricians, roofers, plumbers, contractors, etc). But that's of course because I'm an architect and have more construction knowledge than the average person. In my opinion, a structural engineer will have more authority on a visual structural inspection than someone that has taken a simple on-line certification course. Our clients are always thankful of my discerning eye because I tend to probe inspectors into going the extra step when I see something that may not look normal.
I've told you before about three organizations that are supposed to protect you, the consumer, from unscrupulous building inspections -
- The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc.
- The American Society of Home Inspectors
- The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors
Logic tells you that if an inspector is certified by these organizations, you have a better chance of getting in-depth inspections that will uncover possible problems with a home you are buying....but unfortunately, this is not the case. We have found that these organizations definitely help, but they have standards that their inspectors need to adhere to and sometimes these standards, in my opinion, may be a bit low. I try to understand why and how these standards are created and it makes sense that they are created not only for those buying properties, but also for the real estate industry. If their standards are too high, then inspection findings may interfere with actual sales - so it's easier to find a happy medium where most major building problems will be disclosed, but minor ones may not (but sometimes it's the minor ones that add up).
Home Inspection Objectives
Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion and it's based on my experience. As a Miami Beach Real Estate buyer you need to assess the purpose of getting a home inspection prior to purchasing a home. If you are purchasing an investment property for rental purposes, your goals will be different than if you are buying to live in the property. Either way - I think you would agree that knowing exactly what you are getting into with regards to the condition of a property should be the main objective.
We recently represented a buyer on the purchase of a single family home where in-depth inspections were done by a company that has certifications from the 3 organizations mentioned above. The home was purchased and then rented and numerous problems have since come up that should have been discovered during the inspection. From the dryer not being vented to the exterior of the home, to electrical outlets installed with reverse polarities, to poor appliance installation to the main gas supply to the home not done to basic building standards.
So what is the solution to this problem?
If the home inspection industry is not regulated and you, as a buyer, are purchasing "caveat emptor"....."buyer beware" - what are you to do? Our advice is to ask the home inspector what kind of building experience they have - don't be afraid to question the process - who will do each inspection (from air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, roofing, structure, termite) - what makes them qualified? What makes them an expert? how deep will they dig? Also beware of cheap inspections, unless of course you don't care what the findings are and keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Talk to people who have recently gone through the purchase process and ask their experience with inspectors during and after the fact.
I write this with the hope that standards from the national organizations will be increased to protect you, but for now, it's important that you are well informed of the process and lack of clarity in the industry. Will your best interest be served or that of the transaction?