You get what you pay for.
Our office received a call last week from a potential customer. The first question she asked was, “How much will the home inspection cost?” As consumers, we are all price-driven, and we certainly understood why that question might be posed first.
We took down the information on which we base our pricing. In this case, we factored in the square footage of the home and the year built. Based on her response (1,750 square feet and built in 1976), we quoted our price of $420 for a standard home inspection. The math breaks down to $370 based on size, plus $50 because the house was more than 25 years old. She thanked us politely and hung up.
She called back in about an hour to say that she had spoken with another inspector who claimed he would charge $200 for the standard home inspection. Then he would add $100 each for a termite (Wood Destroying Insect) inspection and thermal inspection. His total quote for a standard home inspection + termite inspection + thermal inspection? $400.
We apologized and told the customer that there was just no way we could beat that pricing. And we understood why she might be tempted to go the less expensive route. We did recommend that she question the inspector about his licensing and credentials, his training and experience, his insurance, and his professional affiliations, if any. Why? If you are familiar with the phrase, “You get what you pay for,” then you will likely understand.
What factors determine the cost of a home inspection?
The inspection fee for a typical single-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Likewise, within a geographic area, the inspection fees charged may vary depending upon a number of factors such as size of the house, its age, particular features of the house (slab foundation, crawl space foundation, etc.) and possible optional systems inspected (pool, lawn sprinkler systems, water wells, septic systems, etc.)
Consider this home inspection cost assessment from the Houston Association of Real Estate Inspectors (HAREI):
“The size and age of homes vary. Some homes/condos can be inspected in 2 to 3 hours. Older, larger homes can take 4 or more hours. Some inspection reports might take an hour or two to complete while others might take 4 hours or more. Some ‘informational’ websites state that home inspection fees run from $175 to $300, however, these low fees are usually based on an inspector doing 2 or 3 inspections per day.”
The article further explains, “If a thorough inspection and report average around 5 to 6 hours [for a single inspection], how ‘thorough’ is the inspector who does 3 inspections and reports in one day? Remember, home inspectors know the value of their service and charge accordingly.”
Cost should not be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection. When it comes to choosing a home inspector, the inspection cost should NOT be the single, deciding factor. Although the fee paid for an inspection is a consideration, other comparisons must be made to ensure you are obtaining the most comprehensive inspection for your dollar.
So what will a home inspection cost? Pulling together the data…
Home Advisor reports that the national average for a standard home inspection in 2018 is $324, with the typical range falling between $277-$388. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development places the average between $300-$500. Fixr reports the average cost to range from $500-$700, and the average cost on Angie’s List for a home inspection is $473.
For the Houston area, ProMatcher spots the average home inspection cost for a 2,000 square foot home (most typical) at $321 with the range between $289-$352. Inspections on homes between 2,000-4,000 square feet would cost an average of $471 and for homes over 4,000 square feet, $540 and up.
CostOwl.com factors the national average cost range for a home inspection somewhere between $300 and $600. The site also offers pricing information on additional tests that are typically not included in a standard home inspection (ask your real estate agent if these tests are needed):
- Water quality – The cost of a water quality test is $100 to $200.
- Mold – The cost for mold inspection is $100 to $300.
- Radon – The cost to test for radon is $75 to $150. You can get a Home Radon Test Kit
- Wood Destroying Insects (Termites, etc.) – The cost to inspect for wood boring insects is $100 to $150. Although sometimes included in the original home inspection, this is the cost if you were ordering this inspection separately.
- Septic Inspection – The cost for septic inspection usually starts at $300 to $500and can easily go up depending on how “messy” the job gets.
Putting things into perspective…
HAREI puts home inspection fees in perspective with the following scenario: “If you’re buying a $400,000 house and the inspection fee is $700, that’s less than .2% of the cost of the house. Most real estate agencies charge 3% to 6% to sell a home (that would add up to $12,000 to $24,000 for a $400,000 house.)”
The article continues, “Aside from the time invested, the value of the inspection and report can be measured by its usefulness. If the inspection turns up little wrong with the house, you’ve bought some relatively inexpensive peace of mind. If the inspection finds serious problems, your $700 could end up saving you many thousands of dollars.”
And we stand by the notion that YES! You get what you pay for.
In the end, the potential customer in question did choose to go with the lower bid. And we are okay with that. We understand competition and how price-cutting works. Thumbtack sums it up pretty well; you might be tempted, but, “don’t just choose the lowest bidder for a home inspection. If you’re making a big investment to buy a home, you want to get an inspection from a certified, licensed, and insured home inspector.”
When we started SafeShield Inspections, LLC, we spent hours compiling exhaustive price comparisons to come up with our price structure. Our pricing is something that we humbly stand behind as fair and honest in value.
We are not the “cheapest in town”, but we know we offer clients a higher-quality service than bargain-basement alternatives. We are certified professionals. We are fully licensed and insured. We adhere to stringent Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) required by the Texas Real Estate Commission and InterNACHI. We obtain at least 16+ hours of continuing education every year to retain our standing in professional associations and advance our knowledge within our field. We work hard every day. And we pride ourselves in providing our customers with the utmost level of response, quality, service, integrity, and respect.
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SafeShield Inspections, LLC Services:
- New & Pre-Owned (Existing) Home Inspections
- Listing Inspections
- Warranty Inspections
- Maintenance Inspections
- Convenient Online Scheduling
- Supra Key Access
- Full-Color Reports within 24 Hours
- Credit Cards Accepted
- Rapid Response (We return phone calls in 30 minutes or less!)
SafeShield Inspections, LLC Benefits:
- We participate in the InterNACHI Buy Back Program. (If your inspector misses anything during the inspection, InterNACHI will buy your home back.) VIEW FULL TERMS.
- We offer a complimentary, lifetime membership to HomeBinder (a $120 value). LEARN MORE.
- SafeShield Inspections is proud to offer a 10% discount to active duty & Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, active duty & retired first responders, and current & retired educators. Alternately, if you choose, SafeShield Inspections, LLC will make a donation equal to your 10% discount in your name to The PTSD Foundation of America: Camp Hope.
Micah Stephens is a certified, professional home inspector who works with home buyers, sellers, and their agents to provide valuable information about a property’s condition at the time of the inspection. Micah knows that buying a home is one of the most significant investments a person can make in his or her lifetime, and he aims to deliver a comprehensive report to his clients so they can make an informed decision.
Micah is certified by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). He is a member in good standing of InterNACHI, the Texas Professional Real Estate Inspectors Association (TPREIA), and is an associate member of the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR).
Micah successfully completed the Texas Professional Course for Home Inspection (450 hours of combined classroom and field training) and earned his certification from American Home Inspectors Training in association with The University of Texas Arlington. Micah has 20 years of combined experience in technical inspection services, including maritime inspections, general safety inspections, and real estate inspections. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard.