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How to Choose a Reliable Home Inspector: An Interview with Desmond Langton of Orlando Home Inspection Services

By Desmond Langton

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

Since 1999, our company Orlando Home Inspection Services (OHIS) has been in business and has been serving the Central Florida (Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola Counties). Our company is locally based and family owned. From its inception it was a one-man shop. Then, in July 2010 my son Phillip and my daughter Michelle joined me in the business. All three of us are Florida state licensed home inspectors.

Concerning the services we offer, they fall into two primary categories: (1) Generalist Home Inspections, and (2) Insurance Inspections. A Generalist Home Inspection is a noninvasive inspection of the visible and accessible areas of a home. If it is not visible or if access is limited or restricted, we will disclaim it, we will tell you why, and we will recommend further evaluation. An Insurance Inspection, on the other hand, is an inspection that is ordered normally by either the buyer's or the homeowner's insurance company and may be ordered with a new purchase, sometimes with a renewal policy, especially with older homes, and sometimes following an insurance claim. At present, at OHIS we perform three types of insurance inspections: (1) A Four-Point Inspection, (2) A Wind Mitigation Inspection and (3) a Roof Certification Inspection.

What qualifications should all home inspectors in Florida state have?

In July 2010 licensing for home inspectors became mandatory in the state of Florida. Today anyone wanting to become licensed as a first-time home inspector must complete 120 hours of pre-licensing classroom training. Once obtained, the license is valid for two years and prior to renewal the licensee must complete 14 hours of continuing education. These 14 hours must include 12 hours based on the components of a home as described in the rule, as well as 2 hours of instruction regarding hurricane mitigation training. Home inspectors are also required to carry liability insurance. The (DBPR) Department of Business and Professional Regulations is the agency that oversees home inspectors. (More info can be found at:http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/PRO/HOMEIN/INDEX.HTML.)

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

Obviously, given enough space this list can be quite lengthy and each question could generate another questions. In order of importance here are what I believe are 10 key questions that everyone should ask before hiring a home inspector:

How long have you been working in the home inspection profession? What's your experience/background? Are you licensed? Insured?
Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?
What items do you inspect? Are there any items that are exempted?
Would your report provide me with accurate information to stop me from buying the money pit?
Would your report guarantee me that I'll have no post-closing surprise expenses?
What about warranties and money-back guarantees? Do you offer any?
How much will the inspection cost? How long does it take?
What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?
Do you have a sample report available?
Will I be able to attend the inspection?

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

Do some research and choose wisely. Begin by visiting the inspector's website and checking out his qualifications, his experience, and any guarantees or warrantees that he offers. Then see what others who have used his service have to say. Check out any videos and written testimonials that may be available on the inspector's website. Also, you could request and examine a sample report of the inspector. As you examine the report, check and see if it is detailed and impartial and ask yourself: Will this report equip me with the information I need to make an informed buying, selling, or investing decision? The inspector should be able to communicate his/her findings in easy-to-read, non-scary language. Items listed as defects in the report should be supported by digital photos that confirm the inspector's findings. Preferably, the photos taken should be date- and time-stamped.

By all means call the inspector personally and ask him or her some or all of the key questions listed above.

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

In Florida, most home inspectors I know offer some type of warranty or guarantee. The competition demands it and our clients expect it. Our company offers:

InterNACHI's $10,000 Honor Guarantee (http://www.nachi.org/honor.htm)
OHIS 100% Money-Back Guarantee
Inspector Services Group's 90-Day Structural and Mechanical Buyers' Home Warranty

In addition, with every home inspection, we offer:

A Free Appliance RecallChek
A Free Membership in the Home Owners Network
A Free ADT Security System (inspection and/or installation)
A Free Home Maintenance Book: "Now That You've Had a Home Inspection"
Ongoing Q&A support

What advice would you give people in Florida who need to have a home inspection done as soon as possible?

Don't let a cheap price be your be your primary motivator when choosing a home inspector. Remember, in most cases, the purchase of a home is the largest single investment a person makes in his/her lifetime. For this reason, you want a licensed, certified and qualified home inspector who will provide you with an independent unbiased opinion of the condition of the home you are about to purchase. A Rolex and a Timex both tell time, but given the choice we all know which one we'll choose. The moral is: You'll get what you pay for.

Verify that the inspector you choose is licensed by the state of Florida, insured, and belongs to at least one of the leading home inspector associations. Get referrals and check out each one. Retain the right to choose the inspector and do so based upon the results of your research and of course, trust your gut feeling.

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

Business: 407-494-5264
Direct: 321-228-2493
Email: dhomeinspector@gmail.com

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