Why You Should Avoid the Cheapest Home Inspection Cost

Getting a home inspection is an essential part of the home-buying process. The inspection is designed to give you the best possible picture of what you’re buying. A thorough home inspection can help you avoid buying a property that’s problematic – and it may even help you negotiate a better price with the home’s current owners.

At Addition Financial, we often hear from first-time homebuyers who are concerned about the home inspection cost. As the expenses of buying a home pile up, we can understand why it might be tempting to comparison shop and choose the least expensive home inspection you can get. Here’s why that’s a bad idea.

It’s Worth Paying for Experience

Let’s start with one of the most obvious reasons not to skimp on home inspection costs: there’s simply no substitute for experience.

An experienced home inspector will know all the ins and outs of construction and testing. They’ll know what to look for – and they’ll be able to spot problems even if the property’s current owners have tried to hide them.

Often, home inspection companies offering discount rates do so because they lack experience. They might have a difficult time attracting clients as a result. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not good – but it might mean they’ll miss things that a more experienced inspector would spot.

Low Prices May Indicate That an Inspector is Cutting Corners

Another problem with using price as your only barometer when hiring a home inspector is that a lower price may indicate the inspector is using out-of-date techniques.

You might not know what the most up-to-date techniques are, but your real estate agent should be able to help. One example is lead paint testing. An inspector who’s still using chemical swabs instead of the more accurate XRF technology is one you should avoid.

It’s always a good idea to ask about techniques and testing and then do some research. As is the case with any service, you’ll get what you pay for. You don’t want to pay for services that aren’t the best you can get.

Some Key Things May Not be Inspected

A company that’s not charging enough for a home inspection may not be as thorough as one that charges a fair price.

In any home, there is the potential for hidden problems that can’t be checked. For example, if some of the property’s plumbing is hidden behind drywall, the inspector won’t be able to inspect them. These things should be noted as potential problems in the inspection report.

It’s important to ask what’s included in the inspection cost. If the property you’re buying has a pool, for example, you might need to pay extra or hire someone experienced to inspect the pool for potential problems. The same is true of wells and septic systems.

The Real Cost Guide to Buying a Home in 2019

What Do Home Inspections Cover?

Now, let’s talk about what should (and won’t be) covered by an experienced home inspector. Here’s what they will check:

  • Electric wiring
  • Plumbing
  • Structural integrity
  • Roofing
  • Gutters/shutters/windows
  • Chimneys
  • Appliances
  • HVAC systems

They should be able to spot any problem that’s visible as well as some you might not notice. However, they don’t cover everything. Here are some things you can’t expect a home inspector to check:

  • Outlets that are hidden behind heavy furniture
  • Rooftops that are excessively steep or more than three stories high
  • Fireplaces and chimneys (they’ll do a cursory inspection, but you’ll need to hire a pro for something more extensive)
  • The soil or terrain around your home – if you’re worried about sinkholes or groundwater, you’ll need to hire a structural engineer or geotechnical expert
  • The pool, well or septic system

If the property you’re buying has any of these things, you’ll need to be aware of potential problems. It’s not a home inspector’s job to risk their life on an unsafe roof or throw out their back moving heavy furniture. And if you need a professional’s opinion of a pool or fireplace, be prepared to pay extra.

Tips for Evaluating Home Inspectors

To finish, we want to share a few tips to help you evaluate home inspectors before you hire one. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Check the inspector’s state license to make sure they’re properly licensed and in good standing.
  2. Ask how many homes they’ve inspected.
  3. Do an online search and read reviews written by homeowners who’ve worked with them.
  4. Ask about their testing and inspection methods and make sure they’re up to date.
  5. Confirm what’s covered and what’s not – and get it in writing.

The more research you do up front, the more likely it is you’ll hire an inspector who will do a great job for you – and potentially save you thousands of dollars on the purchase price of your new home.

A proper home inspection can save you a lot of trouble. For that reason, it’s important not to make price the only consideration when you choose an inspector.

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