Peak real estate season is in full swing, and home inspectors are in high demand. An inspection is a critical step in buying a home. Home inspectors can uncover structural or mechanical issues that buyers need to discuss with the seller.

However, finding a good home inspector can be intimidating. Licensing and certification requirements for home inspectors vary – meaning there’s more pressure on the homebuyer to research carefully and choose their inspector wisely.

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.

BBB received 355 complaints and more than 222,000 inquiries about home inspection services in 2022. Common complaints included inaccurate or incomplete inspections and billing issues.

The information from a home inspection could make or break your decision to buy, so you’ll want to find a thorough, impartial home inspector who does their due diligence.

Tips on how to find a home inspector:

• Do your research. BBB has thousands of BBB Business Profiles on home inspection services. These profiles include the business’ history of complaints and how they were handled, customer reviews and a letter rating from A+ to F.

• Ask around. Friends and acquaintances can recommend you businesses they trust.

• Check specialization. Look for someone who is familiar with the type of home to be inspected, and be sure they specialize in homes rather than commercial properties.

• Verify training and experience. Ask your inpsector about their professional training, experience and how long they’ve been in the industry. Check if they belong to a professional organization such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Society of Professional Engineers — this can be a sign that they adhere to a certain standard of quality. Look up structural engineers’ licensing through the Missouri Division of Professional Registration or Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Registration.

• Get an impartial inspector. Your inspector should avoid conflicts of interest, refuse to be take on real estate transactions or other work that could benefit them financially in the event of a sale, and prioritize the public’s health and safety.

• Attend the inspection. Many inspectors will allow you to tour the home with them and ask questions during the inspection, which can last anywhere from two to five hours.

• Read the report. After the inspection, you should receive a copy of the final, written home inspection report. Carefully read it and make a list of items that need to be addressed to help determine your future home maintenance expenditures. A home cannot fail an inspection; the home inspection report simply records the condition of the home, both positives and negatives.