“How Much Do You Charge?”

One of the most common questions we get in the home inspection business is “What do you charge for a home inspection?”

Prospective clients ask because they are trying to find the inspector that offers the best deal. When buyers are only concerned with price, they have already made an assumption that all home inspectors offer the same thing, and they assume they’re comparing apples to apples, which just isn’t true.

Here are a few important questions to ask before deciding on a home inspector and to help make sure you are making a fair comparison when it comes down to price versus experience. This is all information that home inspectors typically list on their web sites or will answer for you in a phone consultation.

* Find out how long they’ve been in business and ask for their TREC license number. The lower the number, the longer they should typically have been doing inspections.

* How available is the inspector or his office staff to answer questions and provide you with the information you need to feel comfortable in the booking process? Did they return your call in a timely fashion if you left a message? You should feel you are in competent hands and that all of your concerns have been met. One of the top “pet peeves” that we hear of from buyers is to feel they have been treated as if they are incapable of understanding the inspection process and terminology and that they are wasting the inspectors time by asking simple questions.

* Is this the inspectors primary job or is this just a part-time hobby?

* Read client testimonials or request references.

* Ask about their qualifications and experience. Twenty-five years of industry experience doesn’t equate to twenty-five years of “Home Inspection” experience.

* View a sample inspection report. Most inspectors will furnish one upon request or have one posted to their websites.When reviewing a sample report, there is much more to look for than just the form and photos. Watch out for “fillers” such as maintenance tips or DIY items that make the report seem longer but can confuse the buyer as to which items are actually defects.

When picking out a home inspector, spend some time researching inspectors, even if you receive several different names of inspectors from your real estate agent. Ask the agent if they have used this inspector (or would they) on their own property. Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives if they have used an inspector recently that they would use again to purchase their next property.

The fee for an inspection should be based on the job completion itself, not hourly. We base our price on age, square footage, type of foundation and extra systems such as HVAC, sprinkler, pools, etc. That can determine how long an inspection will run. Of course, every house is maintained at different degrees and a house in better condition and well-maintained will inspect easier than a house that has fallen into disrepair even at the same age.

If you’ve narrowed down your search to several inspectors and still can’t decide, go with experience and price to value. Some inspectors with lots of experience may have very little overhead, such as a home office versus a professional building, so they can afford to pass the savings on to you. The most expensive doesn’t equate to the most experience if they charge more because they only do several a week. The cheapest doesn’t equate to the best value if they don’t have the experience and they are just trying to build up the business.

You should feel by the time you have booked your inspection that you are comfortable with the price, standards and experience of your home inspection company.  Now you are ready for the next step, the inspection itself.

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