Would you call a retail store and ask “How much do you charge for a TV?” Probably not. You’d have to do research and decide what you want to buy before asking for prices.
One of the toughest calls that I get as a home inspector is “What do you charge for a home inspection?”
Home buyers ask me this because they’re 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 Sony Bravia 32″ LCD HDTVs to Sony Bravia 32″ LCD HDTVs. This just isn’t true.
Here are a few key things to research before deciding on a home inspector, and to help make sure you’re making a fair comparison when it comes down to price. This is all information that home inspectors typically list on their web site (yes, I’m assuming they have a web site).
- Find out how long they’ve been in business for.
- Read client testimonials. Are they from clients or real estate agents? Do they have testimonials from three delighted clients, or thirty?
- Read about their qualifications and experience. Look out for clever wording like “10 years of industry experience.” This doesn’t equate to 10 years of “Home Inspection” experience.
- Most importantly, view a sample inspection report. If there isn’t one available or you need to send the inspector an email to request one, it’s probably for good reason. Home Inspectors like me that are proud of their reports practically want to push the report in to your lap. See, look, I’m doing it right now.
When reviewing a sample report, there is much more to look for than just photos and illustrations. Watch out for useless report writing that is designed to cover the home inspectors butt, not yours. A bad report would contain a lot of phrases like “This was observed, recommend further evaluation and correction by a licensed blah blah blah”. When I first started inspecting, I was told by a professional home inspection instructor that this was the best way to write a report. As I’ve written more and more reports over the years, I’ve come to realize that home inspection schools teach this style only to protect the inspector. This doesn’t provide a service for the client.
If you want an example of a good looking report that was poorly written, just Google “home inspection report” and click on the first sample that comes up. You’ll find more than a DOZEN recommendations for additional inspections. Is the buyer really supposed to follow this advice? That’s ridiculous.
When picking out a home inspector, spend some time researching inspectors, even if you receive three different names of inspectors from your real estate agent. Many agents give out three names because they don’t want to assume liability if their client isn’t happy with the inspection, not because they have three companies that do great work. For more tips on finding an inspector on-line, read this post by one of my favorite bloggers: How hard can it be to find a good Home Inspector?