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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Hiring a Home Inspector

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In this red-hot housing market, home inspectors are in high demand, since their work is a critical step in the purchase process. Only a thorough, professional inspection of the home’s physical structure and mechanical condition, from roof to foundation, can uncover the issues you’ll need to watch for as a homeowner and potentially discuss with the seller.

Home inspectors may be architects, structural engineers or building contractors. They may receive training or certification from a professional association. While structural engineers must be licensed by the state in which they operate, home inspectors themselves are not federally regulated, and state regulations vary.

In Missouri, home inspectors do not require a license or training, though structural engineers and other professional engineers are licensed through the Missouri Division of Professional Regulation. In Illinois, home inspectors and structural engineers are licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDPFR); home inspectors must take a 60-hour pre-license course, while structural engineers must meet education and experience requirements and take licensing exams. The lack of consistent licensing and certification requirements among home inspectors means the onus is on homebuyers to choose their inspector wisely.

Ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations. Look for someone who is familiar with the type of home to be inspected. Ask prospective inspectors questions about their professional training, relevant experience and/or length of time in business. Find out if the inspector belongs to a professional association. Ask how soon after the inspection you will receive a copy of the final, written home inspection report. Carefully read your home inspection report and make a list of items that need correction; this will help you to determine your future expenditures for repairs and maintenance.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.