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Seven questions to ask a home inspector

When you send money to your family back home, you want to be sure that what you're sending will get there without a problem. Similarly, before you put money down on a house, it's important to determine that everything is up to code and that it's in good condition.

The best way to ensure that happens is through a home inspection. But before you have one done, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says you should ask them a few questions first.

1. How long have you been a professional? It's important to make sure that the person who's doing the inspection is skilled and has experience. Therefore, HUD says they should be able to supply you with their education, how long they've been an inspector and names of people who can attest to their work.

2. Have you been trained for residential inspection specifically? HUD indicates that many people can have familiarity with residences and buildings, but familiarity and expertise are two different things. You should ask if they've been trained in the specific field of home inspection and whether their work has been related to commercial or residential properties.

3. Are you a member of a home inspector group? There are many associations that inspectors join to stay up to date on what's going on in the industry. HUD says that you may want to ask your home inspector what group they belong to, as this can provide more proof of their professionalism and experience.

4. How long will the inspection take to perform? Once you're satisfied that your inspector is qualified, you should ask them how long the inspection will take. HUD says that a typical inspection takes between two and three hours for a single-family style house, while larger buildings can take longer.

5. How much will it cost me? As with just about any service, it will cost you some money. As a general rule, HUD says the expense varies depending on the contractor, how big the home is that's being inspected and what part of the country you live in. Expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $500, but again, prices could fall outside this price range.

6. How will I know the results? After an inspection has been completed, the inspector will provide you with a report that outlines what they looked at and whether any issues were discovered. HUD says the reports are usually ready right after the inspection has been done or within a day. If you're unfamiliar with what the report says, ask the inspector to explain what the terms mean so that you know what needs to be done, if anything.

7. Can I watch while the inspection is being done? You may not want to be in attendance during the inspection, but HUD says not to be shy about staying around. Quality inspectors will encourage you to stay so you can learn about what they are doing. 

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