What exactly is a home inspector? Are they licensed? 2

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In order to become a home inspector in Illinois, an individual must pass an initial training course that is approved by the state, and then pass a test, also administered through the state. In order to keep that license, then, inspectors must complete a certain number of continuing education credits every year.
Many home inspectors also belong to nationwide industry associations, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors, that require still more continuing education.
A home inspector may recommend that a licensed contractor, such as an electrician, be called in to look at something found during the inspection. Home inspectors have enough general knowledge about the various systems in a house to know whether the systems are performing more or less as they should. But for more detailed information, it can make sense in some cases to consult a specialist licensed in his or her respective field.
A home inspector can work like a general contractor–not on a building project, but on an inspection project, so to speak. He can schedule and oversee more detailed inspections by tradesmen, such as plumbers or electricians, or other specialized inspectors, such as those who measure radon levels or test for asbestos content.

Do I have to hire a home inspector?

Many banks want buyers to have their homes inspected before they’ll approve a mortgage, but there’s no law that requires an inspection.
Most people use an inspector because they want someone who knows a lot about houses to look at the real estate they’re thinking of buying. It’s common for a buyer to go back to the seller after the inspection and ask that a few repairs be made, or that the seller provide a credit, based on what the inspector found. It’s entirely possible—and common—that the buyer will end up saving more than the cost of the inspection.

Do all home inspectors have a background in construction?

No. In fact, some people think inspectors with no construction experience make good inspectors because they bring a fresh eye to the process. That may be true in some cases, but I find that I constantly draw on my years of experience as a carpenter and a contractor.
During the inspection, if I find a potential problem with a house, I may also be able to give my client a rough idea what it would take to fix it, or at least which trades might be called in to fix it. I’m not saying I could provide a detailed cost estimate on the spot. You need a contractor for that. But a quick opinion from someone who has worked on dozens of buildings can come in handy, especially if you’re pressed for time.

What’s the difference between a home inspector and a building inspector?

Home inspectors typically are hired by individuals or businesses such as banks to report on the condition of a property, usually a house, condominium or small multifamily building.
Building inspectors, on the other hand, work for municipalities such as cities and villages, and enforce the building codes in their jurisdictions. They do this by requiring designers and contractors to perform their work in such a way that meets minimum standards for things like safety, durability and energy efficiency. While a home inspector might refer to a building code to support an opinion or recommendation, it is not his or her job to make sure that codes are followed.

Can you tell me whether I should buy the house, or what I should pay for it?

Nope. Both of these are specifically prohibited by the state administrative code for home inspectors. Real estate appraisers, also licensed by the state, are the people who determine the value of the property.

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