Inspection Metrics: Size Matters But Not That Much

Everyone’s looking for a deal these days and that includes inspection fees.  Potential clients looking for a reduction in fee often point out how small the home is in order to elicit lower inspection fees.  It’s true that size matters; especially when I’ve logged 3 miles walking up, down and through a super mega-mansion.  Other measurements matter as much or more than size. 

These include Where the Wild Things Are, They don’t build ’em like they used to, Time is money and Unexpected Surprises

Crawl Space:  there are crawls and then there are nasty, low, muddy, foul crawls.  They can be dangerous, unhealthy and claustrophobic.  I might find rats, black rat snakes or black widow spiders.

A bit of a moisture problem

Age:  Sarah Susanka, of Not So Big House fame put it succinctly:  “Newer homes don’t age well”.  I put it this way:  Teenage Homes are like Teenage Children:  they require a lot of care AND money.  Design flaws, materials defects and normal component and system aging all factor into more work for me. 

Defective Siding common in metro Atlanta

Client expectations:  Some clients like to play twenty questions during the inspection, some like to play two hundred.  I’m sometimes asked to check a light fixture by changing the bulb, the fireplace by lighting a fire or the gas grill out back.  Buy me a steak if you want that grill checked.  My purpose as inspector is to discover major and immediate defects, not to satisfy a fastidious client.  That said I would rather spend inspection time discussing pertinent observations with my clients. 

Not easy to inspect the electric panel and water heater

Home Condition:  Access can be a big issue-I sometimes have to wait for keys and lockbox codes.  Most Americans are Hoarders to one degree or another.  The places I need to see:  attics, basements, and equipment are often blocked by possessions.  Professional standards require I leave the home pretty much as I found it:  moving items in closet to gain access to the Jacuzzi pump and then replacing them takes time.  Some homes are, to put it bluntly, a mess.  Wading through them while respecting the owners property can be time consuming.  Depending on the neighborhood and the wholesale price of copper I might have to spend more (or less) time disclosing missing water pipes, A/C coils and wiring ripped from walls.

Enthusiastic copper thieves

Bottom Line:  It takes me about three hours to inspect a “standard” single family home.  Less time for condos and townhomes, more time for super-big or especially difficult to inspect houses.  I’ve set my fees accordingly.


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