4. Get results in writing. The inspection report is an excellent gauge of how exhaustive the work is. Examine a sample copy before hiring an inspector. If it's little more than a checklist, it's insufficient. A complete report should be anywhere from 20 to even 100 pages long, describing in layman's terms what was observed and any problems that were uncovered. If there are serious structural issues, or any problems the inspector can't diagnose, the report should recommend further examination by a structural engineer or other specialist. Some inspectors include estimates of the cost of repairs — but it's illegal in most states (and considered a conflict of interest under ASHI and other trade-group rules) for inspectors to solicit repair business based on their findings. Make sure that the home inspector agrees to spend an hour or so with you to go over the details of the inspection and answer your questions.

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