Inspector Gadget
August 18, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Any recommendations/referrals for the most comprehensive and skilled home inspector or home inspection company in Northern Virginia?

My fiance and I are moving to Falls Church City, VA next month and hope to eventually own the home we'll be renting. The current owner welcomes an inspection of the property, which was built in the early 1950's.

We both recognize the importance of a thorough home inspection, and want to make sure that critical spots like the foundation, electrical/plumbing systems, fireplace and roof are checked out by a professional. It seems there are more than enough companies and folks out there willing to take our money... we want to find the best folks to do the job and save us money and headache down the line by pointing out potential costs and providing estimates of the repairs down the road.

Personal experiences (positive or negative) are appreciated! We hope to find an inspector(s) by the end of October at the latest.
posted by Jaqi to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
I can't help out with VA names and companies, but I can tell you that we employed multiple inspectors. If you're as concerned as you seem to be, call a chimney inspector separarately, a roof inspector separately, and a plumbing inspector who can put a camera down the pipes.

I would not rely on one general inspector-- the plumbing, chimney and roof are not things our past home inspectors looked at closely, and if you pay $100+ to a number of specialty inspector, you will know you got the job done.

We have done this with a chimney inspector after learning too late that there had been a chimney fire in our house and we could not safely use the fireplace without putting in a new lining. And after having to almost entirely replace the plumbing, we're not buying again without calling a plumber to snake a camera through the pipes.
posted by GaelFC at 11:03 PM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

The training and standards of the American Society of Home Inspectors are the best in the business. Use their inspector finder, then call around and find the one with the most experience. Try to find someone who's been inspecting full-time for a number of years, not just moonlighting as many newbies do. If you can find which inspectors are involved in the local chapter's peer-review activities, they're usually the old hands, the serious experts. Murphy's law says none of them will be within a practical radius, but you might luck out.

If the home has anything unusual, like log construction or timber framing, steam heat or multiple units (duplex/triplex), be sure to ask about that. It's particularly hard to find a steam specialist these days, and luckily such homes are also getting rare. (Nothing wrong with steam, mind you, but finding someone with the expertise to maintain it outweighs any advantages.)

I'm sure you understand the importance of getting the home's radon level measured, but be aware that charcoal canisters, while fine for testing your own home where there's no risk of tampering, are not appropriate for a real estate transaction. No matter how friendly the homeowner or landlord seems, they do have incentive to interfere with a radon measurement, so you should have a "continuous radon monitor" on your side. By measuring other conditions (temperature, humidity, movement) in parallel with the radon level, a CRM can reveal when someone opened the windows in the middle of the 48-hour testing period, or moved the monitor outside for some fresh air...

If you're flexible with scheduling, you should have no trouble booking the best-qualified inspector in the area. Short contingency periods are a pain for everyone involved, and if you're renting, you've sidestepped that pain. Good luck!
posted by Myself at 2:07 AM on August 19, 2007

When I bought my house in 2001, I used G. Gilbert Engler (he has a website here). I was really happy with him. He let me follow him around the inspection, which took a few hours, and he taught me how my house worked in the process. He also tagged and labeled all the plumbing, so I would be able to find the appropriate shut-offs later.
posted by procrastination at 6:40 AM on August 19, 2007

My father has served on the ASHII board and is one of those old full-timers (though in AZ). Follow Myself's advice.
posted by carsonb at 7:45 AM on August 19, 2007

« Older Dance disaster?   |   tattoo ideas to honor a buddhist. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.