I’m taking a little break from my home maintenance series to address something that has been on my mind lately. I promise to continue that, look for Roof Maintenance in the near future. In the mean time here is an older post I made on the subject: Asphalt Roof Maintenance
I get many calls from prospective clients that start and end with the question: “What do you charge?” I sometimes just quote a price and they say: “OK Thanks, I’m just calling around.” I can usually tell if I have a chance at the inspection or not based solely on where they are calling from and how short the conversation is. What strikes me as silly is that these callers and possibly their real estate agents are treating the home inspection, and home inspector as a commodity, like we are all the same. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Many home inspectors are part time, using home inspections as a way to earn extra cash or to supplement their regular occupation or are just a hobby. I was talking to an agent the other day, she asked me if her client had called me, I said; “No, I don’t think so, Why?”, “Well, they said the inspection could only be on Sunday”. I said, “What!” “I don’t work Sundays all that often because home sellers don’t usually approve those inspections.” “Yeah” She says, “The inspector is a school teacher”. “Wow!” I said… This is one example of many.
Then there are full time guys like me who attend many seminars and training and are always adding additional services and equipment to my inspections to provide better value to my clients. This is what gets missed in the price checking calls we receive. These events take time and are expensive, but the value they provide our end customers is very important.
Another interesting aspect of the home inspection industry is referral sources… In its current state, most (probably 60-75%) of referrals come from real estate agents. This can be a double edged sword. In my experience if I do a really good thorough inspection, I sometimes lose that referral source (for a while at least) because deals fall through. If I did a sub-standard inspection then the referrals dry up because clients are disappointed in a bad inspection and they tell their agents all about it. So one would think if the inspector fell somewhere in the middle he would be in good shape both from a client perspective as well as the perspective of the RE agent. Not in my opinion…
I like to provide as much information as I can to my clients in order for them to make the best decision they can for themselves and their families. If that means the agents go elsewhere in the future, so be it, I work for their clients and only have their interests in mind. That is one reason why we offer Thermal Imaging on all of our inspections for free. I find many defects/anomalies with that technology that you just cannot see with the naked eye and have gone through extensive training in analyzing the images. I also recently started testing water for hardness on all inspections. These are a couple examples that are the result in the extra training I attend on a monthly basis.
I didn’t mean to be too preachy or sales-y (is that even a word?) in this post, but I think it is important to not treat the home inspection as an area to save money during your real estate transaction. You wouldn’t do that with your doctor, right? In many cases a good thorough inspection can save thousands of dollars, making the $350-$500 inspection well worth the investment. You may think that a $200-$250 inspection is a great deal but if it is with an inexperienced inspector with limited tools and knowledge, that “great find” may cost you in the long run.
Aaron M. Zuehlke is the owner and inspector at Zuehlke Inspection Service, LLC, a full-service home inspection company serving Southern Wisconsin. Specializing in Home inspection, Radon Testing, Mold Testing/inspection and Residential Thermal Imaging. He can be reached by email at Aaron@Zuehlkeinspections.com or by calling the office at 608-931-7485.