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Why Hire a Certified Home Inspector?: An Interview with Dave Bigham of Pro View Property Inspection

By Dave Bigham, CCI

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We created the company about five years ago, a small family business with just three of us. We are often asked if we are a franchise or part of a large firm, no were not. I think that question comes up because we have done a good job putting our business together - everything from our logo and branding to the fact that we use technology heavily in our business operations and we have someone dedicated to taking calls and inquiries. If someone wanted to know more about us, our individual backgrounds along with our training is reviewed on our website.

In regards to our services, we perform property inspections, both residential and commercial. Additionally, we are the only inspectors in our area that provide pool inspections and we're certified Thermographers offering infrared inspections for all manner of needs. Our area of operations cover the counties of Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz and South Santa Clara.

What qualifications should home inspectors in Northern California have?

First, someone looking for the services of an inspector should look for and verify that the inspector coming to the property and performing the inspection is certified. A certified inspector will have an ID from the certifying authority, and you can go onto the website of any of the certifying authority to verify certification.

Second, look for their certification to come from either CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association), ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), or finally from InterNACHI (International Association of Home Inspectors).

Third, interview the inspector and determine if they are actively involved in their local chapter of CREIA or ASHI. This hints at whether or not they are taking regular steps to stay up-to-date with industry standards and any changes in guidelines.

Fourth, look for other certifications or qualifications. As above, this lets you know how involved and knowledgeable they are of their business and the industry.

Can you briefly explain some of the benefits of hiring a certified home inspector?

What most people are not aware of is that there is no licensing of home or property inspectors in California. (For that reason, if an inspector says they are licensed you may want to run fast.) In the state of California anyone can be or call themselves a home inspector - all they have to do is charge for the service and they are legally considered a home inspector.

Certification in CA is a process in lieu of licensing. Certification provides confirmation of training, education, experience and proven skill sets. So the benefit of certification is that you know that the person has been vetted in some degree, as to their knowledge and ability to perform the job. Secondly, someone who is certified has to perform by a set of standards and a code of ethics. Failure to do so can result in loss of their certification. Certification is an outside party's confirmation of the inspector after testing, observing and reviewing them. Keep in mind that you often rely on other professions that have certification. Doctors, CPAs and pilots are just a few. If someone selects an inspector that is not certified they have NO real confirmation as to the inspector's education, knowledge or ability.

What are some of the best questions for people to ask before hiring a home inspector?

Is the inspector who is going to visit and inspect the property certified?
Who is the inspector certified by? (Look for CREIA, ASHI, NAHI or InterNACHI)
Does the inspector regularly attend monthly chapter meetings? (look for an answer of yes)
Is the inspector insured with liability as well as errors and omissions insurance?
What kind of report does the inspector provide (it should be a written narrative, not a checklist)?
Don't hesitate to dig into some of the answers.

How can people judge the quality and reliability of a home inspector they don't know?

As we have said earlier, certification tells you a lot (CREIA, ASHI and NAHI have the most stringent requirements. InterNACHI is less so.) Look for activity and involvement within their industry. Look for other certifications, training and education. Read their sample inspection report. Their comments should identify what the problem is, where it is, and why it is a problem.

Is there generally any type of guarantee or warranty associated with a home inspection?

Generally speaking, property inspections are not a warranty or guarantee. Keep in mind that property inspections are a general survey of the property. They are visual and noninvasive inspections of the readily accessible items at the property that day. What worked today may fail tomorrow, and some things simply can't be seen. Having said that, you would be shocked at what a trained professional inspector will find at a property.

What advice would you give people about hiring a home inspector who is certified versus an inspector who is not certified?

A certified inspector is going to charge a little more than one which is not. It is probably worth the few extra dollars. You have some proof that they have the knowledge and ability, and are staying up-to-date in their field.

An inspector who is not certified has not stepped up to the plate professionally, and there is nothing that attests to their proven ability. Even someone who was or is a contractor, if they are going to inspect your home, should be certified. Contracting and inspecting are different skill sets.

Someone buying a home is probably spending a great deal of money and as such I would think they would want as much evidence as possible that the person they were hiring to provide them information about that home knows what they are doing.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

The best way to contact us is through our web site or simply calling the office at 831-275-0244.

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