The section of the Hawaii purchase contract that concerns property inspections is section J-1 entitled “Inspection, Maintenance, and Warranties.” This section is a contingency which gives the buyer a specific number of days to conduct various inspections and / or research (permits, zoning etc) at the end of which the contingency is either removed with the sale moving forward or the buyer may opt to cancel the contract without penalty. (You will owe for the cost of the inspection which is typically deduced from your earnest money deposit prior to cancellation and return of your funds.)
It is strongly recommended that you hire a professional inspector familiar with Hawaii construction standards and problems associated with a tropical climate. The inspection cost is usually paid out of escrow and will run approximately $200 for a 1 bedroom condo and go up based on square footage and number of bedrooms in the property. It’s money well spent.
Contrary to what some buyers think, inspectors are not regulated or licensed by the State of Hawaii, therefore it is important to do your due diligence in choosing your inspector. Most real estate agents will provide a list of inspectors or you can find a list in the yellow pages or online.
How do you become an inspector? Some inspectors start out as general contractors while others obtain their education from the various professional schools offering training in the field. If an inspector says he is licensed or certified, find out what type of license it is and who provided the certification. TWo national organizations offer education and certification programs for home inspectors — the American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ashi.org) and the International Association of Certified Home inspectors (www.nachi.org). There used to be a third organization, the National Association of Home Inspectors, but the organization shut down in 2016 (link to https://www.furnacecompare.com/what-happened-to-nahi.html)”
Each organization’s Web site offers standards of practice and a code of ethics for its affiliated inspectors, and each allows you to search its database for a certified inspector. These are just a few of the many reputable associations providing education and certification.
To become an association affiliate, the inspector must pass a test to gain their certification. To maintain good standing as a member, continuing education is mandatory. If inspectors want to carry errors and omissions insurance, their carrier will require that they belong to an approved professional organization. Asking if they have e & o insurance and continuing education are good questions to ask you inspector, along with their level of experience, their professional affiliation, where they received their inspection training, and how many inspection they have conducted.
All legitimate inspectors welcome calls from potential buyers with questions as to their qualifications and scope of their inspection, which is the topic for my next blog. Stay tuned….