How to find a qualified house inspector.

What a professional house inspection will cover.

Through your own inspection, you've eliminated houses having obvious problems, and you have your eye on a house you'd like to buy. Now you need assurance that what looks good on the surface is indeed so. That's where the professional house inspector comes in -- someone who can go over the house, top to bottom, inside and out. That will cost you money. Rates vary, but count on paying a minimum of $200. It's money well spent to prevent you from buying a lemon. Or even if the inspector discovers a big problem, you may still want to buy the house. In that case, the inspection report will give you clout to negotiate for a lower price or get the seller to pay for repairs.

Finding an Inspector

Professional inspectors are people with engineering, architecture, maintenance or construction backgrounds.


Most states do not license inspectors; anyone can hang out a shingle claiming to be one.

You also can ask the inspector for references. But your best bet is to get referrals from friends and associates. Be sure the inspector carries liability insurance in case he or she fails to find a major flaw in the house that costs you lots of money after you buy it.

( New Mexico does not require insurance at this time )

What to Expect?

You'll learn a lot about the house by tagging along during the inspection. That also will help you make better sense of the written report later. And, yes, there should be a written report; don't settle for a verbal one.

Don't expect the inspector to tell you if the house is a good deal. The inspector's job is not to appraise property, but to tell you, as best as he or she can determine, if the house is in sound condition.

A few words on a couple of additional concerns: termites and radon. Many inspectors do not include termite inspection in their services. If your lender requires this, the seller often will pay for it. You also may choose to check the house for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause health problems. Call your local public health department for more information on radon testing. (Also, see -- click on "home ownership").

The following is a brief rundown on what an inspector will check (the actual inspection will be much more detailed):

Inspection Checklist

Ask to see a copy of the Inspectors Checklist