COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Home inspector Chris Green pokes, pulls and climbs his way around a house, even getting up on the roof to determine the condition of a home from top to bottom.
Green puts his findings in a detailed report, complete with photographs, and hand-delivers it to his customers. Then he answers any follow-up questions they might have.
He's a licensed home inspector in Kentucky and Indiana, where people in the profession are expected to meet minimum standards and face discipline if they don't.
But Green and other real estate experts tell the WCPO I-Team nearly anyone can conduct home inspections in Ohio because the state doesn't require inspectors to get a license.
Which means people buying a home in Ohio are pretty much on their own.
"You have to inspect the inspector," Green said.
There has been a push to license home inspectors in Ohio, but none of the legislation survived to become law.
And Ohio isn't alone. Nineteen other states and Washington D.C. don't require a license approved and regulated by state government, according to American Home Inspectors Training.
Without a state licensing program, virtually anyone can claim to be a home inspector: There are no minimum standards, no regulations and no discipline for violating state standards. Not all licensing standards are equal; some states, such as North Dakota, require very little, while others, such as Texas, have high standards.
Before watching Green at work, the I-Team:
- checked out Green's website;
- reviewed his credentials;
- studied his inspections;
- compared his work to other inspectors;
- searched his name in a court records database; and
- used state government websites in Kentucky and Indiana to confirm he was licensed.
Green and many other inspectors are certified through the American Society of Home Inspectors, a national trade group.
"With ASHI, you have to go through a school," Green said. "You have to perform at least 250 inspections."
Green has this advice for anyone looking to hire a home inspector:
- Look closely at the company's website.
- Talk with the inspector on the phone.
- Ask if the inspector will get on the roof.
- Ask if the inspection includes every faucet, window and electrical outlet.
- Get references.
"References are very important," Green said.
Dave Szymik is one of Green's references. After he paid for several bad inspections from other inspectors -- "They knew less than I did," Szymik said -- a friend recommended Green.
"I wanted somebody to look at that residence and tell me what was wrong," Szymik said. He got that by listening to trusted references and doing a little homework on the inspector who was going to examine his home.
When choosing an inspector, a gold ASHI seal next to his or her name means the inspector is ASHI-certified. ASHI has some members who are associates but not certified; those inspectors will not have a gold seal.
Also, it's good to check if the inspector has errors and omissions insurance in case the homeowner finds costly repairs the inspector missed. Errors and omissions insurance is not required in Kentucky, though inspectors are required to get a license there. Kentucky inspectors are required to have general liability coverage.
American Society of Home Inspectors, a national trade organization that provides certification and continuing education for inspectors.
Kentucky Board of Home Inspectors, the state regulatory authority that issues licenses and discipline involving home inspectors in the commonwealth
Indiana Home Inspectors Licensing Board, the a state regulatory authority that issues licenses and discipline involving home inspectors in the state.