What to look for in a home inspector:
The State of Florida does not license or regulate Home Inspectors. The only licensure requirement for inspectors is that they have an occupational permit for the County or City in which they work and this simply involves filling out a form. Some inspectors attend a 2-day seminar and obtain a certificate upon completion of the seminar. They may call themselves "certified" but this is not in any way regulated by the State.
Your best assurance of getting a reliable inspection is to hire an inspector who is a fully accredited member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) This organization requires extensive testing and report review before it admits its inspectors as Members, and requires them to receive on-going education in order to maintain their memberships (20 hrs per year).
What the home inspection should cost:
A typical range might be $300-500 but costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size of the house, scope of services and other factors. What you have to consider is the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made. If you do not have an inspection, you could easily pay what it would have cost you to have an inspection just to make one repair that you were not aware was needed.
Why you need a home inspection:
Buying a home is, for many people, the greatest investment they will ever make. The average person is not qualified to determine the presence of unknown problems that may exist in the home. These problems can ultimately cost the buyer more money than they can afford to spend in order to fix them. An inspector is trained to look for these potential problems and report them so that buyers can make a more informed buying decision. The findings of an inspection report can, in many cases, influence the seller to lower the price or agree to repair problems that are found. All around, it is the best way to protect oneself from otherwise unforeseeable hassles and repair costs.
Why you should be present at the inspection:
It is not necessary that you attend the inspection but we highly recommend it. Many times buyers are emotionally drawn in by the obvious features of a home; proximity to schools & work place, neighborhood, size and style of home, etc. It is easy to be blinded by negative features even when they are obvious...let alone when they are not visible. It is wise to have a home inspection in order to protect yourselves from things that you don't have the expertise to look for but also to document things that you may be subconsciously denying. When issues are presented in black and white, you are forced to acknowledge them. Additionally, if you are present, you will be able to follow the inspector around and see the condition of the home for yourself. You will likely learn valuable information about location of shut off valves, where utilities are located and the various systems-how they operate and how to properly maintain them.
You will also have a better comprehension of the inspection report when you receive it since you will have had interaction with the inspector. If you are not able to be present, consider having a representative there on your behalf.
What the home inspector is responsible for:
Any professional inspection firm will have an agreement that will specifically state what the company's capabilities and limitations are. You will be asked to read and sign the agreement. Don't make assumptions about what you think they can do because there are limitations. The purpose of using an inspector is to limit your risk in the purchase of a home. However, they cannot totally eliminate that risk. Also, keep in mind that the inspection is limited to what can be visually observed at the time of the inspection. When problems are found the inspector will offer feedback regarding what needs to be done to fix the problems, either by you or a specialist. Inspectors can't predict the future condition of a system or even what condition it will be in the following day. They can only look for signs of breakdown. There are components to systems that are not accessible or visible without dismantling the system, which inspectors do not do. He/she can evaluate only what is visible. There are no guarantees that a problem won't occur with a system between the time you buy and when you move in.
Separate inspections you might need: