Buyers Who Do Their Own Home Inspections

by : Eric Badgely

Periodically a buyer will decide that he or she wants to do his or her own home inspection. Or the buyers want to hire a friend, who has worked in the trades -- a carpenter, a framer, a handyman, to do the inspection for them.
In Washington State, if they choose the second scenario, and that friend is not state licensed but is being compensated, then a state law will be broken. In this state, anytime an inspection is done, that involves the sale of a structure, the inspection must be a complete wood destroying organism inspection and that legally has to be done by a licensed structural pest inspector. Becoming a licensed structural pest inspector involves passing a rigorous test and meeting strict financial responsibility requirements. A friend or family member of the buyer seldom measures up to those obligations.

In the first instance, the client doing his or her own inspection, that is usually not recommend either. From what I have found, even if someone has worked as a carpenter, a painter or a builder, that is still very different from being competent as a home inspector. A good home inspector is trained to detect subtle problems in many, many different areas and systems that are not necessarily familiar to a builder.

For example, a home inspector must be able to detect wood destroying organisms and understand the rather complex electrical, plumbing and heating systems. Also, a buyer is often emotionally involved with the home, and might have already moved into that house in his or her mind. In these circumstances, it is hard for that buyer to be objective. That is another good reason to hire a competent, objective and independent home inspector. I always encourage my clients to do so for these reasons.