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How to Choose a Reliable Home Inspector: An Interview with Neil Sims of Sims Home Inspections

By Neil Sims

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer

Sims Home Inspections has been providing home inspections in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties since 2004. I personally perform all inspections and inspection reports. I am a licensed general contractor as well as a licensed home inspector. I have over 25 years of construction experience and I have personally built several homes here in Wilmington over the past 10 years. I was a mechanical contractor supervisor doing plumbing, electrical and HVAC for approximately six years after graduating from the University of Arkansas. Whether you are buying a home, selling a home, or are a present homeowner it is critically important to identify problems that may exist and repairs that will have to be made. Home buyers want that "peace of mind" knowing the investment they are about to make is a sound one. Home sellers benefit from a faster sale and a better price when providing the potential buyer with a home inspection. Home owners who have their investment inspected every 4 or five years detect potential problems in the early stages before they develop into costly repairs.

What qualifications should all home inspectors have?

All home inspectors in North Carolina are licensed through the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensing Board . All home inspectors are required to perform continuing education each year and keep their license current. Choosing a home inspector that is also a general contractor is important due to many mortgage companies requiring a contractor's letter if there are issues which may be disclosed to them during the appraisal and termite inspection.

What are some questions clients should ask before hiring a home inspector?

It is important for buyers to perform their due diligence when choosing a home inspector. The state has reduced some requirements to be able to get a home inspection license . This has made it easier to obtain a home inspection license and the number of inspectors in the area has increased recently . There are a lot of "part time " inspectors and several which are new to the business. Buyers are making a large financial investment with the purchase of a house,and they should not be reluctant to call and interview the inspector. Don't be afraid to ask how many inspections they have performed. Ask if they are fully insured and ask if they are a full-time home inspector. Asking questions about the format of the inspection report is also very important. A standard home inspection report from our company typically includes around 50-75 pictures with typed comments regarding defects . Reports should be clear and easy to understand. I encourage people to ask for a sample of a inspection report from the inspector they are considering. I also encourage people to ask a home inspector you are considering for referrals.

How can people judge the quality and reliability of a home inspector they don't know?

Being able to trust your home inspector is very important. The trust should start with the home inspector being properly qualified and having credentials to prove it. I always encourage clients to be present during an inspection. Actually seeing what the inspector is checking and how thorough they are is very important. An average home inspection typically averages around 3-4 hours. Clients should ask questions to insure all aspects of anything which is not inspected (Ex. Hot tubs/Swimming Pools/Septic tanks) should be clearly disclosed to the buyer, so there is no confusion. Again, ask for referrals.

Is there any type of warranty or guarantee with a home inspection?

A lot of home sellers offer one year warranties that they purchased through various companies. Home warranties are very common, but are not provided by the home inspector. They are typically an independent company. All home inspectors are required to carry general liability insurance. It is optional if a home inspector carries errors and omissions insurance. A buyer should inquire to see if the home inspector has this insurance.

What advice would you give a potential client if they wanted to get a home inspection?

Home inspections are typically performed for buyers once their potential house is under contract. After being contacted about a inspection, we will coordinate a time that works for all parties involved and schedule it with the appropriate people. The on-site part of the inspection is typically around 3-4 hours. The report is computer generated and is typically performed that night and emailed to the client the following morning. An average report contains approximately 50-75 pictures, thus the reports become lengthy by nature of the software. The report will come as a PDF attachment to your email. Clients typically then negotiate repairs/allowances based on the inspection findings. If needed, our company will perform a re-inspection once repairs are complete. The inspection fee varies based on the square footage of the house. Inspection fees can be paid at the inspection or paid at closing. We will coordinate payment arrangements with the closing attorney.

What is the best way for people to reach your company?

Sims Home Inspections can be reached on line at or by phone at 910-617-7467.

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