home improvement contractors

Before a scheduled home inspection we recommend home owners use licensed contractors to repair existing problems such as replacing cracked shingles (shown here).

After observing hundreds of home inspections by several Northern Virginia home inspectors, we feel confident telling our clients to trust hiring an inspector who possesses a Class A contractors license. In 2005, when the housing market began to go from boom-to-bust, many regional home builders were forced to change business plans from home builder to home inspector. Home inspectors who have a Virginia Class A Contractors License also have a minimum of 5 years in the home building business, can work on single contracts worth $70,000+ or $500,000+ over a 1 year period, and the minimum value of their contracting business must be at least $45,000. These minimum requirements should give Class A licensed home inspectors a competitive advantage when you’re selecting someone to inspect your next home.

When selecting a Northern Virginia home inspector, besides looking for a Class A Contractor, find an inspector who has been tested and licensed as a Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) Certified Home Inspector. This certification will make sure your home inspector has completed the following:

(1) 35 hours of instruction, and 100 home inspections, or 70 hours of instruction, and 50 home inspections.

(2) Pass a home inspection written competency test approved by DPOR .

(3) Possess good moral character. This is determined by a criminal history record report. A certified home inspector is also required to show competence in business transactions as a home inspector in a way which safeguards the interests of the public.

(4) Maintain minimum general liability insurance of $250K.

In order to verify a Northern Virginia home inspector has been certified in Virginia, simply go to www.dpor.virginia.gov.  Go to License Look up to find current license status and any disciplinary actions taken against licensed inspectors.  For information related to the minimum standards of conducting a certified home inspection, and the requirements (checklist) for a certified home inspection report, go to American Home Inspector Directory and click on: Virginia Certified Home Inspectors Regulations.

The last item worth noting is qualifying your next home inspector with membership affiliations.  These associations require inspectors to maintain inspection standards, and complete continuing education hours every year.  Look for membership with the following organizations:

(1)  National Association of Home Inspectors

(2)  American Society of Home Inspectors

(3)  Virginia Association of Real Estate Inspectors

(4)  Northern Virginia Chapter of ASHI

After finding Northern Virginia home inspectors who are Class A Contractors, certified through Virginia DPOR, and affiliated with a home inspection association listed above, now it’s time to contact them and ask a few very simple questions.  Because just like any other profession,  not all home inspectors are the same.  Make sure your inspector will conduct a detailed inspection which includes these items:

(1)  Climbing onto the roof and conducting a physical inspection.  Our clients have suffered on past occasions by inspectors conducting roof inspections which were completed by visual inspection from the ground with the use of binoculars.  The inspector you use should bring a ladder which enables him to physically inspect all 4 corners of the house from top to bottom.

(2)  Conduct function tests on all electrical circuits, and outlets.  This includes examining proper grounding, wiring, and electrical box connections.

(3)  Access and inspect the attic and crawl space(s).

(4)  Conduct a complete function test of all appliances, and mechanical systems (heating & air-conditioning, hot water heater, water treatment systems, etc.).  This means testing all cycles and settings.  These items should be evaluated for current condition, life expectancy, and suggested maintenance schedules.

If the certified home inspectors you’re interviewing won’t include these 4 points of inspection, continue your search until you can find an inspector with a checklist and work ethic which includes these items.

The standard rates for a home inspection south of I-495 in Northern Virginia from Fairfax County, Prince William County, Stafford County, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania County usually range between $300-$350 for an average home (2200-2400 fin. sq. ft.) on a crawl space.  For the same size home with a basement expect to pay $350-$400.  Once again, price depends on home size.

It is important to note standards of conduct and practice for certified home inspectors prohibit the following:

(1)  Conduct repairs on a home for up to 12 months after completing a certified home inspection on the same residence.

(2)  Perform a certified home inspection on a home which he has completed repairs within the last 12 months.  The home inspector is also not allowed to refer the homeowner to a third-party repair company in these cases.

(3)  The certified home inspector cannot show the information contained on a home inspection without approval of the client unless conditions are life threatening or pose a health hazard.

(4)  The certified home inspector cannot be compensated from more than one party for the same service on the same property without approval from all interested parties.

Hopefully this information will help you steer clear from unlicensed Northern Virginia home inspectors.  Our experience and observations of dealing with self-appointed home inspectors gave us the inspiration to write this article.  We hope it helps you during the purchase of your next home.  Feel free to contact us for a list of professional home inspectors. If your home search happens to be in the Northern Virginia area, feel free to call us, we would appreciate your business.