Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a home inspection?
- How much does a home inspection cost?
- Are inspections by engineers more expensive?
- Do you inspect newly built homes?
- Will I be able to attend the inspection?
- Who gets a copy of the home inspection report?
- How quickly can I get my report?
- Is the home inspection industry regulated?
- Many inspectors claim to be certified. What does this mean?
- How can I find a truly qualified home inspector?
- How do you find an engineer for a home inspection?
- What qualifications do licensed Professional Engineers have?
- Do you have insurance?
What is a home inspection?
There is no universally agreed-upon definition of a home inspection. However, a Criterium Engineers' home inspection is a Professional Engineer's opinion of the current condition and future performance of the home's major systems (including the structure) based on visual evidence. The home inspection is performed in accordance with the standards of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE).
Are inspections by engineers more expensive?
Not always, but our fees may be higher in some cases. Many items which other companies either exclude or charge extra for are included in our standard report. Since only Professional Engineers can legally tell you about the structural integrity of a building, you won't have to hire anyone else for this important service.
Do you inspect newly built homes?
Yes. Any home you buy, whether antique or newly built, is a major investment. It is in your best interest to know everything you can about the house before you buy it.
Will I be able to attend the inspection?
We encourage our clients to come along on the inspection. It's the best way to learn about the home. It's also the perfect time to ask the engineer questions about specific concerns you may have. Our report will then address these specific concerns along with the items we normally cover.
How quickly can I get my report?
Reports typically are completed within 1-2 working days of the inspection. Since we do not provide abbreviated reports or simple checklists as many companies do, you will not receive the report at the end of the inspection. Although we may cover verbally what we have observed with you, we do not feel an on-site check list report is as of much value to you. Our written report contains the full benefit of our deliberation on site and after the inspection.
Is the home inspection industry regulated?
Along with appraisals and title searches, home inspections are becoming a standard part of the home buying process. Although appraisers have come under increasing regulation in recent years, home inspectors have not. Only in a few states like Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey does a license for home inspectors even exist!
Many inspectors claim to be certified. What does this mean?
Often it means very little. There are many associations of home inspectors, many of whom do not certify anything beyond membership in that organization (generally obtained simply by paying a fee). There is no real, meaningful control over these "certified" inspectors' qualifications or expertise. With no prerequisite qualifications or licenses, virtually anyone can become a home inspector.
How can I find a truly qualified home inspector?
One answer is to hire a licensed Professional Engineer. P.E.s are qualified to evaluate all elements of the home and render their professional opinion as to the condition and soundness of that home. Since they are regulated by the state in which they practice, their accountability and professionalism is assured.
- The first step is to look for the P.E. designation after the inspector's name. Only licensed Professional Engineers may use that designation. It may be displayed in corporate brochures, on business cards, and/or in their yellow page advertisement.
- Ask to see the engineer's license, stamp or seal. Many groups have created seals that are designed to look like professional seals. Be sure to read it carefully. It should be issued by the state and contain a license number.
- Inquire as to the engineer's experience. They should have a background in buildings-related services such as inspections, facilities management or design.
- As with any service you intend to purchase, check references. Qualified engineers will be happy to provide you with a list of satisfied clients.
- Avoid conflicts of interest. An engineer who recently inspected a house for another client will probably refuse to inspect it for you, unless he or she has permission from the previous client. The inspection report is provided to you in confidence.
- There are also organizations that consist of Professional Engineers, such as the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE).
Engineers are licensed by the state in which they practice. At a minimum, they have completed an accredited, degreed engineering program, 4 years of work under the direction of other engineers, and have passed a comprehensive 2-day exam. They are bound by a code of ethics and state law to practice only in areas where they are qualified.
All Criterium Engineers' offices maintain comprehensive professional liability insurance with nationally recognized firms. Professional liability insurance is different than home inspector's insurance and is only available to Professional Engineers and Professional Architects. But the most important quality is our accountability as Professional Engineers. We stand behind our work and are legally and ethically accountable to you.