As a condo buyer, you can hire anyone you wish to do the inspection. You can have your dad do it, you can hire a professional inspector referred by your Realtor or a friend, you can search out someone in the yellow pages or Google them, or heck, you can get the guy on the street standing outside the condo building.
If truth be told, you need to hire someone you are comfortable working with and who is knowledgeable about construction and safety matters. If you get a name from your Realtor or from a friend’s referral, you are probably off to a good start. Now, I’ve had clients come up to me during inspections saying they didn’t want to work with their Realtor’s recommended inspector asking me “What if they are in cahoots with each other and the inspector is getting a kickback or missed something?”
Well if you have this feeling about your Realtor, don’t do business with them. A good Realtor is worth their weight in gold and is looking out for your best interest. They are going to go to bat for you, so if you think your Realtor isn’t, then Fire him or her. There are plenty of honest hard working Realtors out there who in the end will save you time, money and significant stress and headaches.
[Editor’s note: As of January 31, 2009, Washington state law (WAC 308-124C-050) now requires real estate agents who refer an inspector to provide written disclosure of any business/economic or family relationship they have with the referred inspector to their client. This law is intended to prevent collusion between the agent and inspector.]
So what if I’m thinking about hiring my dad (or friend) to inspect my condo? If your dad is comfortable and experienced in all facets of construction, not just one area like framing or drywall or painting, but is also knowledgeable about the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, garage door safety, siding, roofing and fireplace safety, then he may be able to do a condo inspection for you.
A contractor is generally a master of one particular area, i.e. a plumber is an expert at plumbing systems but may not know much about windows or electrical systems. So if your father (cousin, sister, friend) is well rounded in all facets of construction he may be able to perform the inspection. I didn’t say a good one, but a condo inspection nonetheless. Professional inspectors, on the other hand, are generalist, trained in all areas and are licensed and certified.
At the end of the day, whomever you choose to hire to perform your condo inspection, make sure you are comfortable working with them be it a professional inspector, a family member or someone off the street. In addition to being knowledgeable about condominium systems and construction, the inspector should produce an inspection report that’s easy to read, includes photos and is summarized in a format that is easy to understand. The report should be easy for you, the client, to digest and for the Realtor to negotiate with the seller’s agent.
If you go down the path of hiring a professional inspector what questions should you ask them? I’ll answer that in my next article… YourCondoInspector.com.