Goodspeed: Find a reputable home inspector before buying

Getting a good home inspection is a must when buying a new place to live.

QUESTION: I’m wondering how to go about finding a good, reputable home inspector. My realtor suggested a couple of names and I was just wondering how to go about checking them out.

ANSWER: Home inspectors in Massachusetts must be licensed. The profession is regulated by the state Board of Registration of Home Inspectors. Among other things, the board sets minimum inspection requirements for each home inspection and minimum standards for educational and training programs.

To become licensed, applicants must pass a board-approved examination and fulfill continuing education requirements for license renewal. Home Inspectors must also carry a minimum of $250,000 worth of insurance so that consumers will be able to seek compensation if they suffer losses as a result of an inspector’s error.

The board has also established a code of ethics for home inspectors to follow. If you want to check out an inspector – i.e. determine if his/her license is valid, any complaints filed against the inspector, etc. – the Board of Registration of Home Inspectors can help you do this.

The board also publishes helpful consumer information about home inspectors and the home inspection process.

You can contact the board through its website:, or by calling 617-727-5339.

QUESTION: I am buying a home. How do I know what my rights are?

ANSWER: The answer to most issues about buying a home can be found in the written contract you will sign when you make an offer on the home.

The contract is the single most important document in the transaction. It spells out your rights and responsibilities. It is absolutely critical that you have an attorney review it, and that you read and understand it.

Ask plenty of questions. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. Make sure dates in the contract are feasible and that there are contingencies that will enable you to get out of the contract and get your money back if things start going awry.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: