Home Inspectors Vary Considerably – Do Your Homework Before You Commit

In my previous post I discussed why hiring a “friend” to do your home inspection is not a good idea. Now I want to talk to you about the differences between home inspectors.

First of all, the concern on most people’s mind is cost. For a roughly 2,000 square foot house, you can find home inspection prices to vary between $300-$550. That’s a considerable difference, but the differences between the reports that you receive are even more striking. This cost does not include specialty inspections, such as radon tests, sewer scopes, and a sweep for an abandoned underground storage tank, among other inspections.

The first thing I’ve noticed in the “cheap” inspection reports is the size of the report. They are usually 10ish pages long. The more expensive reports are upwards of 30 or more pages and contain massive amounts of information about the piece of real estate you are wanting to buy.

Beyond that, the cheaper inspection reports usually reflects on a less extensive report. I’ve seen inspection reports where the inspector failed to even look in the crawlspace, which is probably one of the most important areas that a home inspector should go. It is very rare that when we go and look at the house that we will get any sense of the condition of the crawlspace. The reasons that you want someone to physically go down there and check it out are numerous: if there is water/pest intrusion or evidence of cracks or other types of settling down in the crawlspace, this is information you MUST have.

I’ve seen inspection reports where the inspector does not physically go up on the roof but uses binoculars to check out the roof. You want someone who’s willing to go up there and check out the entire roof system.

If you are going to be involved in an FHA, USDA, or VA financing type of transaction, it is possible that your lender will require a pest and dry rot report with their appraisal. Some inspections include it and some do not. My experience is that the more expensive inspectors include it but the less expensive ones do not.

One way you can tell if a report is quality is by asking for an example. Here is an example of an inspection report done by Toby Deming of AMI.

As always, the inclusion of a firm on this list does not constitute an endorsement or guarantee, of any kind, by Oregon Realty Co.

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