Puerto Vallarta Real Estate | February 2007
|How to Find Your Home Inspector|
Jim Morrison - PVNN
Buying a vacation home is a major financial decision that can dramatically improve your quality of life. In the US and Canada, most people hire a professional home inspector to evaluate a property they are interested in before they actually purchase it.
|Do a little investigation before hiring a home inspector, make sure you know what you’re getting, and attend the inspection. Understanding the process and being an informed consumer are the best paths to your dream home, and avoiding a money pit!|
Getting an accurate assessment of the condition of a home before you buy it is an essential piece of the process. A professional home inspection will teach you what you need to know about your new home, and they can uncover major defects that might make you reconsider whether or not this is the right place for you. As more and more people enter the field, how do you find the inspector who is right for you?
One way to help ensure you hire the right firm is to get referrals from people you trust. Perhaps a friend or family member who has recently purchased a home in the area? Your attorney, mortgage broker, or real estate agent may also be willing to recommend an inspector to you.
Since the field is relatively new in Puerto Vallarta, even those folks may not know a reliable inspector. Don’t simply rely on names from the telephone book, search the internet for an inspector, and make sure you verify their credentials.
On the Phone
You should describe the house as completely as possible to the inspector on the telephone. Answer all of their questions and let them know about any peculiarities up front. If the inspector knows about a particular concern of yours (e.g. a disagreeable tenant, vicious dog, leaky roof, etc.) up front, you can discuss how these issues will be handled in advance.
Also, if the more the inspector knows about the house, the better they can describe their services and fees to you. A casa with seven rooms is a lot different than one with seven bedrooms, so be specific and have a listing sheet handy!
In addition, you should take into account how much time the inspector spends with you on the telephone. You will likely have a lot of questions and a willingness to answer questions on the phone might indicate what they’ll be like during the inspection.
Your first concern should be competency. You must feel comfortable that the inspector you hire knows what they are doing. What is their educational background? What construction related licenses or certifications do they hold?
How long have they been inspecting homes professionally? The home inspectors you interview may have a wide variety of backgrounds and it is important to find the right match for you.
On the Job
What does the inspection consist of? You should have each firm walk you through the typical inspection over the telephone. What is their policy on crawl spaces? Will the inspector remove the cover from the electrical panel? And what is expected of you? Does the inspector mind if you follow them around during the inspection?
A good inspector should have two goals: First, to find any major defects in the house. The second goal is education, the inspector should show the homebuyer where the main water shutoff is, the electrical disconnect, how to change the filter in the air conditioner, etc.
Construction is different here, and the inspection is an invaluable learning experience, so try hard to be there for it. Make sure you understand everything the inspector points out and writes in the report.
Typical fees start around $400 US and go up from there. While the cost of the inspection is a concern for everyone, price alone should not dictate your decision. In every field, you get what you pay for. Every inspector provides a different service to his or her clients and a higher or lower fee does not necessarily dictate what kind of work the inspector will do. It is more important to look for value. What will you get for your money, that’s the most important thing. Don’t forget to ask the inspector when and how they like to be paid.
The report is more important than most people realize. It is the only thing that survives the inspection. If an important defect is uncovered during the inspection, the report should explain it in a way that anyone could understand. It often serves as a “to do” list for years after the inspection.
There are basically two types of reports: The handwritten, annotated checklist is a preprinted non-carbon reproduction form where the inspector will mark items as Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, etc. and make a few handwritten comments as needed.
The other kind of report is the typewritten narrative report where the inspector actually types a report with digital photos which profiles the property and goes into more detail. Ask your inspector which kind of report he writes.
Also, will the report be written in English or Spanish? You should also make sure the report is issued to you alone. After all, you paid for it. Your inspector may send a copy to your attorney, lender, or your real estate agent if you ask them to, but no one should see or discuss the report without your consent.
Do a little investigation before hiring a home inspector, make sure you know what you’re getting, and attend the inspection. Understanding the process and being an informed consumer are the best paths to your dream home, and avoiding a money pit!
Casas del Mar is a property services firm that manages, rents, and inspects homes all over the Banderas Bay area. Their philosophy is simple: "Listen to your customers, and don’t quit until they are happy. Ever." You can send them your questions at info@CasasDelMarPV.com. They are your real estate resource.
Click HERE for more Puerto Vallarta articles by Jim Morrison..