Let me start by saying that price should not be much of a factor in your decision. If you consider a 2400 square foot house as the standard, then you will find that the average inspection is around $300. Some companies are a little less, some are a little more, but you should never sacrifice service for savings when you are making such a big investment in your home. Two things to consider about price:
- In my experience, any inspector who is charging under $199 is either not inspecting the house thoroughly, or is not confident in his ability. Inspectors who are considerably below the market-value price are likely to be delivering a below average inspection as well.
- I have always preferred companies that publish their prices publicly. If you are doing internet research, you may have found home inspection price lists are a little hard to come by. There are a variety of different reasons, but this is generally because many companies want to retain the ability to adjust price according to neighborhood (you may be quoted a higher price if you live in a high-end area).
Even though the outline is standard, Inspection Reports vary greatly in quality and detail.
- The main recommendation here is to compare sample reports. Inspectors should post a Sample Report on their website; I strongly encourage you to compare these reports. It is a very strong indicator of the level of service that you can expect, and this is the end product that you are paying for.
- The inspection report should be thorough, but easily understood, and it should have color pictures.
Ask any inspector that you are considering these two questions:
- 'How long will the inspection take?' We do get a little faster with experience, but inspections should take close to 1 hour for every 1000 square feet. If your new home is 3000 square feet, there is no way that a quality inspection can be performed in an hour.
- 'Can I accompany you during the inspection?' The answer to this question should always be YES. You might not want to actually be there for all three hours, but the inspector should be at least willing to have you there. Personally, I love it when clients attend the inspection. It gives me an opportunity to explain everything in person and to explain all the reasons that we are mentioning items in our report. Also, it gives me a better opportunity to find out the things that really matter to the client and address those issues even more thoroughly. I take great pride in the service that we offer, and I absolutely want my clients to see that service first-hand.
Some inspectors (especially the most experienced ones) will say that experience is everything, and there is certainly a lot of truth to that. Most inspection companies are individually owned and operated. In my opinion, the important questions are these:
- 'How many inspections have you performed?' Inspectors see something new every day, but 200 paid inspections is considered experienced enough to be an FHA Inspector or to train an Apprentice Inspector, so this should be a fairly solid inspector.
- 'How did you become an inspector?'. Former builders, re-modelers, tradesmen, and engineers have additional experience that can certainly come in handy.