Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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How much would that cost to repair? Should an inspector be giving you prices after the inspection?

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A trend has started which is favored by some Realtors, and denounced by others. Real estate investors like it though. It is the idea that a home inspector should give you repair costs for the items he mentions on his report. It has angered some, because buyers are asking for those amounts as a discount. While others have approved of it, because it gives them a better idea of what their expenses might be.

I have never given a formalized list of repair costs to any of my clients. I have given them rough ideas of costs verbally though. I have lost jobs, because Realtors wanted me to produce such a list quickly for a client, and I said that I would not do it. I offer my reasoning to avoiding this list, so you can judge your inspector’s intentions for yourself.

As an inspector, my focus should be providing you the best information on your home. I should look for any possible issue, and I should report it back to you, and I should be telling you why it is important. Fortunately, in the state of Texas, I am not allowed to work on your home for one year after the inspection has been performed. This rule is not always followed, but it helps protect the consumer. If I was looking for work on your home, I could be reporting issues that do not exist, just to get the work. I am not doing repair work, so I do not need to know how much to charge for it. In addition, my estimate could be way off. There are so many different contractors working on different parts charging various hourly rates, and the prices on the parts are in flux now too, that I could be giving you a very wrong amount. My estimate could have been accurate a few months ago, but not today. One example is when I started in the inspection business I could find anti-siphon valves for hose bibs fro around two dollars. They now cost close to seven, but I may never have known that, except for the fact that I purchased some for a family member.

There is another aspect to this practice that I find discourages accurate use of the inspection report. An inspection report does not indicate major issues all of the time, and sometimes a finding may not need to be fixed. Like all inspectors, I hate Federal Pacific service panels. They are dangerous, particularly for people who are unfamiliar with their problems. What do I have on my home? A Federal Pacific service panel that has been on it for forty-four years without a problem. I am going to eventually replace it, but here I am in a situation where I know that people have lived with these panels on their homes for so long, and nothing has ever happened. On my reports, I always report on this unit and its dangers, but does it have to be replaced when nothing has ever happened? Maybe not. If I marked it as a danger with a price to replace, the buyer may automatically want that discount from the sale price, but they may not have it updated to a safer panel. My job (and goal) is to make people understand their home. If I am only creating a means for them to abuse my report by using it as a means to lower a sale price, I have not done my job.

As I mentioned earlier, I do give rough repair cost estimates verbally, but I want the person hiring me to comprehend the significance of my report. When dealing with your inspector, think about my concerns over such estimate lists to see how much they should guide you in your home buying decision.

« « Hiding Your Foundation: Where Homeowners and Inspectors Clash| Is it time for a new roof? » »

© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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