free enterprise

Beware quoting prices to clients for new HVAC systems. In the last month I have heard about two cases of extravagant pricing around here.

$7000.00 to replace part of a 3.5 ton A/C system, I did not get the whole story but some part was not replaced, I think it was the gas furnace section.

A client yesterday is a HVAC contractor, he just replaced a system where the other quote was $10,000.00 for a 4 ton unit. He did it for much less and was laughing at the other company. Duct work was not part of the quote, just a simple replacement with about $2500 worth of materials.

This does not make me laugh, something should be done to protect these unsavvy consumers.

Don’t quote prices at all here…

My policy as well, although I may change that. I get asked frequently especially with flippers and when inspecting foreclosures and short sales.

What are some of your concerns with providing cost estimates? If we have a background in construction, what’s the harm?

The harm is when you say it’s going to cost $4-$5 and it was $8. Guess what you just bought the $3 difference. So when the buyer takes you to court and sues you for the difference that is the harm! Is it really worth the chance to give est? IMO NO! Why open yourself up for that trip? It’s your business do what you want but when they ask me for $$$ I simply say you should get 3 to 5 bids from a contractor that is qualified for whatever they are working on. Again just my 2 cents…. :mrgreen:

Are there really inspectors out there that will not verbally mention the typical cost to replace the two 20 year old HVAC systems during an inspection? Sorry, I already know the answer to that… Beware of buying real estate in Rock Hill SC, Fort Mill SC, Charlotte NC unless you know who to hire as your inspector…

I have not yet gave any estimates on repair or replacement cost.
In my opinion is you give an estimate of $4-$5 and it cost $8 you are a fool for paying the additional $3.
An Estimate is an educated GUESS.

Maybe this is where some of you are hung up
If I was to recieve a quote then I would expect that quote to be accurate.
If I was to recieve an estimate then I would know it was an approximate guess.

Do not interchange the terms of quote and estimate they are different.

I deal a lot with property investors and flippers looking to buy distressed properties. I think it would add value to my services if I can give them an idea what it will cost to get the subject property rehabilitated. With this information and a good quality inspection report they can make a more educated decision on whether the property is a good fit or one they should pass on. I would never suggest that a HI should do this if they lack experience in the construction trades but after 18 years or so of building houses I think I have a pretty good idea what things cost.

It would be a good idea to make mention that any cost estimates provided are simply educated guesses and in no way would I ever provide a written estimate, because as John said doing so then it becomes a quote.

Good info in this thread, nothing wrong with guessing at the costs as long as its not in writing since contractors can charge whatever they wish, which was the point of this thread.

Just because you tell someone a new system will be around $5k and their contractor quotes $7k does not mean you made a mistake because there are contractors that will do the same thing for $5k. It just means the client found a high priced contractor. I might start telling them $5k to $10k depending on who you call. I make a point to educate my clients about HVAC replacement costs since most do not realize how much it is especially when two units are involved.

There are estimates, quotes and guesses. Inspectors should only supply guesses since the other two come from someone willing to do the actual work.

On a typical worn out 1800 sf house that realtors like to tell buyers that it can be fixed up for “about 10k” it will actually cost about $40K to have it done right and completely finished by professionals.


Listen to Brian!! Here in California if you say $3-5 and it costs $8 you will make up the difference. How can you estimate what SOMEONE ELSE will charge for a job? Remember in California it is illegal for a home inspector to work on a home they have inspected for at least 12 months.

Look at the guy in Canada who gave a quote and it cost him about $200K.



The news media twisted the headline etc and made it sound that way, several others on here also saw that in the article and it has been discussed on here somewhere. The guy did not report repair costs, he simply missed some other structural issues that the contractor said had to be done. The inspectors findings were found to be x dollars by a contractor plus 200K more for the ones he missed or failed to properly report. Most everyone on here misread that whole news report but they teach the reporters to write them that way for effect.

Because it’s NOT an estimate. Although I guess this could be interpreted differently. The way I see it is this is simply saying something like “water heater replacement typically ranges from $800 to $1000 to have a licensed plumber do the work, and your’s is beyond it’s useful life because of XYZ”. I see no harm in this.

I always tell people to get 3 opinions.
Sometimes I remember to tell them to call 3 Home Inspectors ,but it often slips my mind:)



Do what you will. Never mind the experience of other fellow inspectors. Giving cost estimates or whatever you want to call them will only bite you in the ***. It may take some time but believe me it will catch up to you. Especially here in California.


Chuck - I appreciate your opinion and those of other HI’s here on the board. I absolutely believe this is the best place to get educated by others with more experience than I. So I do not discredit what you are saying, rather I am interested in hearing what others like yourself have to say about this topic.