Detached Garages - To Charge or Not to Charge?

Hi all, I read another forum thread on this topic that appeared to be about eight years old, and I’m hoping there’s some additional insight now.

My policy has always been to inspect detached garages when there isn’t an attached garage as a courtesy at no additional fee, but in a cursory manner (not AS detailed as the primary dwelling). I recently ran into an issue where the detached “garage” was an older, very large building that functioned as a garage (in the sense that it had manual doors) but was really a very large workshop. The building was generally in disrepair from obvious long-term neglect, and the client was already aware of its many issues and didn’t seem concerned about it when we spoke at the inspection.

Because of the many defects and what he communicated, I didn’t include it as part of the home inspection report. I thought that was fine in this case (and he seemed fine with it) until the broker of his agent called me and asked why it wasn’t inspected. Apparently the buyer’s agent brought it up in a staff meeting, so she called me for clarification. I explained and she understood, but that led into a rather long discussion about what outbuildings are inspected, for what fees, how that’s determined, etc.

So my question isn’t so much whether you all charge extra for detached garages when there’s no attached garage. I’m not planning to change my policy on that, and my policy aligns with my competition. What I AM wondering is how you classify certain outbuildings as detached garages that demand an additional fee. For me, a detached garage that’s a standard size is simple. But what do you do when there’s no attached garage but the detached “garage” is much bigger than typical and is clearly intended for use beyond what is typical of a garage?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Same for me.

I find that info out in my initial contact with my client and add the increase in fee to my total without. necessarily, informing the client that there is an additional fee.

My bad, if I don’t get the info needed to price the job correctly.

My fee is my fee…I don’t break it out for the client, within reason…e.g. a farmhouse, and 2 barns, and a workshop, etc.

Call it an out building and charge an additional fee for it. But that’s just me.

So many times we see old barns, etcetera, used to contain a vehicle so people call it a garage. It is an outbuilding. I then inspect it as such. AND, I get paid for the time. (That is, in my mind, the issue with charging by square foot - those structures are NEVER included as part of the square footage listed by the Real Estate Professionals). Should the Client indicate they do not want or need the outbuilding inspected, I utilize the section of my report for “OUTBUILDINGS” and state that the Client excluded inspection of the outbuilding. ALSO, in the section of the report dedicated to GARAGE / CARPORT I clearly note there was “No part of the structure dedicated or designed to provide housing for a motor vehicle.”

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That is why it is important to not only check the MLS, but google the property and look at it street view. I quoted a price one time on a property that had 2800 sq. ft. and when I looked it up, it had a big garage 200 ft. from the house and a 100 year old barn attached to the house. I called them back right away and told them that I can not inspect all those buildings for the quoted price, and they agreed to just the farm house.

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Very good advice from Marcel. I do a lot of outbuilding in my area and they can be lucrative. Many are heated, have running water etc. and sometimes larger than the home. After I review the MLS and google the property, I can accurately quote the listing. I tell the client what is included regarding the outbuildings and let them decide if they want me to also inspect them. Most of the time they do.

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Marcel, Just curious how you are able to access the MLS? Is there a way we can too without being a real estate agent?

Thanks in advance!

In my area they were listed as property for sale with the # or I would get it from the buyer client.
This could be different in your area.

Roger that, I’ll look into that. Thanks for the quick reply.,,, all usually show the MLS# on active listings. Google search the property address and it should pop up which site the home is on, and voila… Sometimes the MLS# will have a link to the actual MLS. If the listing agent posted the listing on social media, they usually include the # there or a link to it as well.

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All right, here we go…I appreciate the previous feedback.

We don’t have the privilege of street view on many of our mountain roads and curious how the MLS helps.

What is the importance of the MLS#? I know how to find a property on,,, etc. I don’t need the MLS# to find a property online. What does knowing the MLS# provide in addition to the aforementioned? I also Google map every property I need to especially when reviewing a new potential inspection request. That works well in the suburbs, but in the mountains, where a lot of the properties I inspect are, any type of satellite mapping is useless because the trees may be obscuring out buildings and often the entire property itself. I’m in the Santa Cruz Mtns by the way. I’m currently looking at an inspection for a red-tagged property for sale. The MLS shows 908 sq ft…but it’s red-tagged due to un-permitted building…more like 2500 sq ft. The MLS# does nothing for me in this scenario.

Since satellite imagery can’t help me in determining any outbuildings on said property, does having an MLS# help me in any way? If I was a real estate agent with access to the MLS listings, would that give me any additional information that I am not currently able to access? If it does, I would love to know how to have access to the MLS system. If there is no benefit to that access other than what is available online, then I don’t need that access. I just need to know if having that access is something that I should be striving for.