Since the normal protocol in a real estate deal is to get a home inspection (and WDO inspection) done after the deal has been struck, this is a fair question.
As is the case with most of the answers I give in the real estate business. It depends.
Why? You ask…
Not all inspectors, and not all inspections, are alike.
Infrared shows temperature differences at the surface level. Indicating whether there is poor insulation in certain areas and even moisture. Basically, it makes apparent issues that you can’t pick up with the naked eye.
This particular tool had cost the inspector $9,000 at the time of purchase. As you can imagine, the newbie home inspector is probably doing good if they have a digital measuring tape, much less a piece of equipment costing thousands of dollars. Yet, this very piece of equipment is at the core of what makes this inspector “worth his salt.”
To the point. Assuming a 2,000 sq ft, single-family detached home in the Northeast Florida area, you can expect to pay between $200-$450 for a general home inspection (not including the WDO inspection). Much more than that and you’re probably paying for the inspectors overhead, marketing budget, or fancy car! For houses bigger than about 3500 sq ft I would expect to pay a bit more.
Now, there is one more item to consider. The inspector’s reputation. You do need to ensure they’ve been in business for a reasonable amount of time, are properly licensed, properly insured, and have good references from someone in or around the real estate business (i.e. contractors, builders, real estate agents, etc.). “Birds of a feather flock together.”
A few tips:
Ask to see a copy of a report that the inspector has done recently. They may have to white-out some names and addresses, but no big deal.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. However, a picture with no description, arrows, or areas that are circled can be pretty darn confusing. Check to see if their reports have pictures and descriptive text to accompany.
- Does it look like most of the content is pre-populated? Or, is the inspector writing descriptions and detailing the issues of the property. Nothing bothers me more than getting a 97 page inspection report that is 90% pre-filled content. Then you have to sort through a sea of information to figure out what’s going on.
Meet the inspector at the property
- You don’t necessarily have to arrive at the same time, but show up towards the end. That way the inspector can go over what they found. Photos and reports are great, but nothing beats an in-person breakdown of the findings.
For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend taking contractor references from the inspector.
If you see anything prior to the inspection (stains on the ceiling, cracks in the stucco, etc.) that you are curious about, be sure to mention it to the inspector beforehand.
In closing, know that inspectors (just like you and I) are flawed human beings. They can’t be expected to find every problem in a house. But, if you find a good inspector, and do your best to ask probing questions about the property, you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect once you move in.
Originally posted 2013-04-02 10:28:42.