One of the most important parts of any real estate purchase is the home inspection. A home inspector will give the house a thorough going-over and report on any problems he or she finds. A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs, as well as the need for maintenance to keep a house in good shape. After the inspection, the buyers will know more about the house, which will allow them to make decisions with confidence.
Inspecting a historic house, though, does require a special set of skills and knowledge. It takes experience and specialized expertise for an inspector to understand and assess historic houses without judging them by the same standards that might be applied to newer houses. Historic home specialists are also more likely to be attuned and sensitive to the architectural character of the house when offering any advice for upgrades or changes.
So, how do you find a home inspector who specializes in historic homes ? Often the best resource is a local real estate agent, who will have worked with many home inspectors and will know the strengths that different inspectors bring to the job. There are also two good online resources to tap into to find a good historic home specialist.
Historic Building Inspectors Association: This association is only a few years old but continues to grow as the only organization specifically for inspectors specializing in historic homes. There are currently about 30 members spread out across 16 states. All members have completed at least 200 inspections, are licensed by their state, and hold degrees or certificates in historic preservation standards. Many of the members are active supporters of local preservation efforts and volunteer their time and expertise to local non-profit projects. The inspectors are indexed by state- check back often if your state isn’t included as new members are regularly being added.
American Society of Home Inspectors: Founded in 1976, ASHI is the oldest and most respected organization for home inspectors. There are almost 4000 members in ASHI, and many of the inspectors offer historic homes as one of their specialties. Go to the ASHI member search page. In the bottom right hand block (“By Additional Services Offered”), fill out the zip code for the house you’re interested in, and scroll through the list of specialties and highlight “historic homes,” then click on “Search.” For many zip codes, you’ll end up with a couple dozen members, but it’s a good starting point- you’ll at least know that each one of the inspectors on the list claims historic homes as a specialty.