One of the biggest investments made by an individual or family is purchasing a home.

To make sure that you maximise your investment, you need to look for a professional and well-equipped home inspector to help you decide if you are making the right choice. The inspector is supposed to give you an honest and objective review of the entire dwelling including aspects such as weak roofs, termite infestation, clogged drains and so on.

The decision of hiring a home inspector is not simple though. How do you know that you are employing the right person to carry out the inspections for your new home? Is he qualified? Does he have sufficient experience? Is he non-biased? All these questions need to be closely examined as you have only one chance to get your dream home checked by a professional home inspector. If he does a superficial job, you could face a lot of disappointments in the future when you actually start living in the house. Steering clear from superficial home inspectors requires an understanding of what to look for when selecting a true professional.

Don’t blindly hire a home inspector recommended by your agent

It is true that your real estate agent will give you a list of recommended and approved home inspectors, but that does not necessarily mean that you would find the best home inspector to do the job for you. On the contrary, it might not work in your favor as several agents who get monetary incentives for the sale (i.e. the commission) have ties with home inspectors who also benefit from the deal. There is a tendency among such inspectors to carry out superficial inspections without actually looking into the details of the house and the defects hidden in it. The aim of such inspectors is to make a sale irrespective of whether the house is free from defects or not.

So, try and look for alternatives by getting recommendations for independent home inspectors from your neighbors, family and friends.

Check for professional qualifications

It is good to check whether your home inspector is associated with professional organisations and has certificates to justify his qualifications such as:

  • Licenced Building Consultant
  • Licenced Builder
  • Accredited Timber Pest Inspector
  • Accredited ABSA HERS Assessor
  • Bonded Asbestos Removal Licence
  • Workcover Accreditation

This kind of information gives you an idea about the professional background of the inspector and instils trust in his work. A well-qualified and experienced home inspector will make sure to check for even the smallest defects, which could turn out to be big issues later.


Most of us would assume that home inspectors would prefer clients or buyers to select inspection service of their choice instead of letting a real estate agent to choose for them. However, the truth is that a lot of home inspectors are dependent on real estate agencies to get them clients. This is often the case with large firms that have multiple inspectors working for them.

Agents looking for profit

The field of home inspection should be the same as any other open marketplace. In an open marketplace, companies that supply average products or deliver unsatisfactory services ultimately shut down as they don’t survive the competition. In the real estate world, such a marketplace can fall under the control of the agents. This means that the inspection services listed or recommended by agents get most of the business, regardless of their qualifications and capabilities.

While this may not hold true for all home inspections, buyers are often disappointed when they are sold houses inspected on a superficial basis aimed at making a sale. Even though buyers are covered under consumer protection laws, it is still a hassle – often ending up in arbitration or courts.

Better to choose independent inspector

It is clear that employing an independent home inspector is a much smarter decision than blindly selecting the inspector recommended by your real estate agent.

Real estate agents often use the belittling phrase “deal killer” to refer to home inspectors who operate independently and provide buyers with an honest and objective review report after the home inspection is completed. This could obviously lead the buyer to reconsider the buying decision and may even make him/her look at other options.

Independent home inspectors will work by keeping in mind the best interest of the buyers. That is the reason they are often considered as a challenge by real estate agents who are trying to sell the property to create income. The so called “deal killers” are viewed as enemies by real estate agents and a number of tactics are employed to manipulate the process of selecting the home inspector to ensure that the potential buyer does not choose an independent one.


Home inspections, when performed by professional and qualified inspectors, have the potential to help buyers save extraordinary amounts of money on repairs as well as costs. In some cases, a home inspection may be a catalyst in endangering the entire property deal. However, property purchase is a tricky process, and it is extremely important that both buyers and sellers protect themselves from legal risks by instituting a range of basic practices.

Inspector identity

One of the ways in which individual’s make themselves vulnerable to increased risk is by delegating authority on their property to the real estate agent. It is the responsibility of the home owner to keep track of who has access to the property. Providing your property keys to a home inspector so that he/she may visit the property unsupervised is not recommended. This will leave you exposed to the risk that the home inspector may himself/herself cause damage to the property. The inspector must be requested to show documentation and qualifications before visiting a property.

Seller disclosure agreements

If the state in which your property is located requires you to provide a seller disclosure agreement when selling a property, it is the responsibility of the buyer to comprehensively outline what he/she is looking for. A seller disclosure agreement is a report that details the nature of the property. In many cases, serious discrepancies between a home inspector’s report and the seller disclosure agreement may exist.

Refer buyer questions to professionals

In several cases, buyers will require property owners to update them regarding certain aspects of a property. A property owner is highly advised to refer all buyer-related structural questions to a professional home inspector. If a seller vouches for the safety of a property, without the backing of a home inspection, they may be exposing themselves to increased legal risk. The reality is that at least one problem on a property may be related to one or more other problems. Home inspectors will be able to determine whether problems like stains on walls, are one-off issues, or whether they are symptoms of other problems like plumbing leakages.

Only licensed professionals

In some cases, buyers themselves may be able to spot deficiencies on a property, when they visit it. If this is the case, a buyer must insist that all repair work must be conducted by a professional and licensed home repair and maintenance service, rather than the seller himself/herself. The buyer may request documentation that proves that the seller has contracted a licensed third party to undertake repairs. This will help protect the buyer from risks that the same problems will not arise once the property has been purchased.


Home inspection professionals are required to undertake extensive examinations before they can receive their qualifications. To receive a license, a home inspector will need to be properly trained, through educational programs that not only detail the tasks they are required to perform, but also communicate important standards of practice and ethical considerations. Home inspectors offer a range of services, but they are not to be confused with a home appraisal or a building code inspection service.

Over the course of a home inspection, an inspector will visually assess the interior and exterior of your home. This will include the roofing, walls, windows, floors, ceiling, electrical wiring, basic plumbing, basements, attics, and the general foundation of your property. However, it is not the responsibility of the home inspector to uncover problems that are not visible to the naked eye.

Timing is everything

It is extremely important to carry out a home inspection before a property is purchased, in order to save on repair costs, or to uncover problems with a property that may even prevent the sale proceeding. Before a buyer signs a purchase agreement, it is his/her responsibility to engage a home inspection service. Moreover, the buyer and the seller must also enter into a pre-purchase agreement that carefully stipulates each party’s obligations regarding repair and maintenance.

Be a part of the inspection

Home inspectors do not require potential buyers to be present during the inspection. However, it is highly recommended that buyers tag along with the home inspector when the process is being undertaken. This will allow the buyers to gain a basic understanding of the property they are looking to purchase, while also ensuring that the home inspector conducts work thoroughly and professionally.

Once the inspection is complete, home inspectors are required to provide detailed reports of the property to the buyer. A buyer who has been a part of the inspection, will be able to understand the report better, and perhaps even point out inaccuracies in the report.

What home inspectors do not do

While home inspections are common practice nowadays, home inspectors are not required to undertake particular tasks. When you hire a home inspector, request for a thorough checklist of the services offered. You will also want to consult your home inspector to find out what other services may need to be hired to protect your property from unanticipated repair costs.

Other tests like water quality testing, insect infestation proneness, air quality testing, and environmental tests may also need to be performed. These tests are not part of the home inspection package and may be available for an additional charge.


It has become common for homeowners across the country, to conduct specialized home inspections on their properties before putting them up for sale. However, any potential buyer must first understand the limitations of a home inspection. A professional home inspection service can do wonders in assessing the value of a property, and recommending repairs and renovations, but it must be acknowledged that there are many factors that a home inspector is not required to consider. Let us dispel a few myths around home inspection that many continue to believe to be true.

Home inspector’s report includes everything

The first of these myths is the understanding that a home inspection report will detail absolutely everything related to a property. A home inspector is only expected to carry out a visual examination of a property. A home inspector’s report will certainly list various deficiencies in the property, but tagging along with the inspector when the property is being assessed, will hold you in good stead as you undertake repairs.

Developing a relationship with your home inspection service, will ultimately put you in a leveraged position. If you are present during the inspection, home inspectors will make it a point to provide important maintenance tips and practices that you would otherwise not be privy to. Also, simply being present during the inspection and quizzing your home inspector, will also help you understand your property much better.

Home inspections are the same as home appraisals

The second misconception around home inspections is that they are equivalent to a home appraisal. Real estate agents always try to encourage homeowners to carry out home inspections, rather than full appraisals, when property is up for sale. However, the truth is that real estate agents work on a commission basis, and harbor loyalties towards sellers. While home inspections can give you a great understanding of the damages on your property, and the repairs required, getting a home appraisal performed on your property will help in increasing its value.

Home inspectors will tell you exactly what’s going to go wrong

Finally, home inspectors are often assumed to detail every single deficiency on a property and provide you with a full report. While home inspectors will certainly inspect plumbing, roofing and electrical systems, it is important to understand that they only conduct visual inspections. For example, a home inspector will not be able to deduce if the walls are prone to water damage. Home inspectors will not be able to accurately anticipate future problems that a property might have.


Roof inspection is one of the most overlooked aspects of a home inspection process. Much to our ignorance, it is perhaps one of the most critical aspects that could eventually turn around your buying decision. Make sure that you are present at the time of roof inspection, when you get a professional home inspector to do a review report for the potential buy. The overall condition of the existing roof installation needs to be checked along with the possibilities of any leaks damaging the roof.


  • Determining the existing condition of the shingles and other areas that may have become weak over a period of time due to natural damage
  • Checking for signs of damage by water
  • Undertaking a capacity check related to downpipes and gutters
  • Cleaning up of the gutters as well as the surface area by getting rid of all dirt and debris
  • Overall repair of all the weak areas


It is important to check if the deck of the roof is sagging at any point, if there is any light coming in from a hole/opening, or if there are any leakages. As far as the exterior of the roof is concerned, the following points need close attention in addition to those mentioned above:

  • Inspect the roof thoroughly for any debris collected around the pipes, chimneys and vents
  • Signs of wearing of the roof the roof surface and any debris in the gutters
  • It is very important to look for moisture, mold or rot. You might not see moisture spots right under a damaged roofing. Water can actually seep down to lowest possible area before it starts dripping. When there is water seepage, problems related to bacteria, fungi and mold are fast to develop.
  • Another important element of roof inspection is to ensure that the dryer vents of the kitchen and bathroom are directed completely outside the house and not just outside the roof cavity
  • Last but not the least, be present with the home inspector at the time of inspection to make sure that each of the above points are closely inspected and you get to stay under a solid roof.