Consider shopping for a home inspector weeks before you submit an offer on a home. Make time to research options in advance. Ask the right questions early and get the right person for the job.

Once your real estate purchase offer is accepted, the clock begins to tick on the inspection deadline. A home inspection is inexpensive insurance. I would never buy a property without one.

Here are 18 questions that you can use to qualify the right home inspector:

  • Would you send me an advance copy of your inspection agreement and a sample report to read?
  • Do your reports have photos?
  • How much lead time do you need in order to book an inspection?
  • Approximately how long will the inspection take?
  • What is your turn-time on the report?
  • Do you test for mold and radon gas?
  • What is your surcharge for swimming pools, spas, and other special features?
  • Can your firm perform a sewer camera scope of the main drain line or recommend a contractor?
  • Am I responsible for coordinating the inspection appointment time with the seller or will you?
  • Do you have electronic lock box access to the house?
  • What items will you not inspect?
  • Are you licensed to perform termite/wood-destroying insect reports for my lender?
  • Will you or your associate be performing my inspection?
  • How many homes do you inspect annually?
  • Are you a full-time or part-time inspector?
  • Does your firm carry E&O (errors and omissions) insurance?
  • How and when will you take payment?
  • Are there any other fees that I am not aware of?

In order to be able to give you an accurate price quote over the phone, the home inspector will need as much information as possible about the home and its components. Be prepared with the MLS sheet data and the listing agent’s contact information.

My Realtor Has an Inspector

Your real estate agent may offer you a home inspector recommendation. However, your final selection should be someone who you have chosen through personal research. Talk to at least 3 home inspection firms. Discuss service, fees, and availability. Ask friends, family and co-workers who they used and about their experience. You are looking for an inspector who will not only write a report but who will also take time to explain the home’s mechanical systems. It’s your new home orientation.

Flat Rate, Hourly Rate or By Square Footage?

I am not a fan of flat rate or hourly rate pricing plans for home inspections. With a flat rate, you might get less than what you’ve paid for if it’s a large property. With an hourly rate, you don’t control the cost, especially if you begin to discover the home is a fixer-upper. Pricing by square footage seems to me to be the most straightforward and equitable arrangement for the buyer.

For similar quality-assurance reasons, I also prefer that the home inspector does not rush to produce and deliver the home inspection report on-site. There are too many distractions on the job site. I’ll give the inspector a few days to marinate on his findings, review the photos and assemble the report.

A Few Final Thoughts…

Remember to advise the home inspector about your purchase contract deadlines. If your timeframe is tight, the inspector will need to prepare the report posthaste.

Some inspection firms will have a surcharge for two or more HVAC systems. In Phoenix, multiple heating and cooling units are common in homes larger than 2,500 square feet.

All Arizona home inspectors are required to be licensed by the State Board of Technical Registration (AZBTR). It is the same agency that regulates architects, engineers, land surveyors and geologists. There are currently about 800 licensed home inspectors statewide. Here is a link to check the license status of any Arizona home inspector.


To be a carpenter or a builder or a home inspector, you have to have that kind of visual brain where you can sort of imagine something taken apart. – Nick Petrie, American writer and author of thriller fiction novel Burning Bright