Repair Cost Estimate by Home Inspectors

As a customer, I have the opportunity of choosing between two HI. Both charge the same amount for their inspection. HI#1 gives me pages of fluff & refers everything, well almost everything, to a trade professional. HI#2 gives me pages of fluff but can include an approx. price range for repairs. Guess who I’m going to choose? In fact I’d pay more for HI#2 report. Nothing ticks me off more then hiring a “professional” who can only refer me to more “professionals” Just my 2 cents. Doug

I think it is important not to mix up the concept of cost verses estimate. The only time anyone will truly know the cost of a project is upon its completion. An estimate on the other hand is a tool which will give your customer information on which they can better arrive at a financial decision and that I believe is a value added benefit our customers can use.

I have to agree with Joe on this one.

To provide an Estimate to a Client on the repair or remedial work required to make something right, would have to be guess work at best, unless you are a Contractor.

I work for a General Contractor with Commercial Work Value of up to 22 Million Dollars a year.
The last thing I would do is to insinuate to a Client that because I am involved with this that I could give them an accurate Estimate of repairs.

The biggest variable in Estimates to do the work is the one that will actually do it, and that is a very wide variable. The finale Dollar amount will be whoever does the work for a fixed amount.
I would be very skeptical in providing a Dollar amount for a fix, because what I would charge and what someone else would charge could be like day and night.

Be cautious in Estimates.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

So your inspector is, maybe, OK with HVAC, but no great shakes, and the furnace didn’t come on with the thermostat. He gives rough estmate to replace it (big dollars) because he has no expertise in repairing the machine. You would really prefer his report??

Good luck, but you’re working with very limited information.

However, having it inspected by a HVAC technician (who finds an inexpensive repair) saves many bucks in the long run.

But, I guess you’ve got money to burn–

…so most of us would rather deal with clients who truly appreciate what we do for them.

It is when you get it right,
I still think its a risky area, which is worth letting other professionals take the risk.
Just as your doctor would refer the suspicious lump on your…(fill in the gap)
To a specialist.
I think a lot of the talk of estimating is based upon trying to give a perceived better service to Home buyers, perhaps a marketing one up in a competitive environment. Personally unlike many ex-contractors who feel comfortable offering estimates, my experience as a contractor firmly leads me to believe that its a liability I can do without …too many variables to cover on a 2-4 hour visit, especially without the “honest” input from the homeowner who likely knows the problem the best

I have no problem offering up a generalized estimate sheet including ballpark ranges for typical items found on an inspection, or routine maintenace. I give it to every client.

Numbers were obtained in the following way: I tallied up the 15-20 most common defects I found in each area (roofing, electrical, etc). I gave them to the trade pros I work regularly with in each field and asked for alegitimate ballpark range for each.

I give the sheet to each client so that they can set expectations for typical potential repair costs, and future maintenance costs. The disclaimer tells them that not every situation is typical; often hidden or more extensive damage is observed after work begins; cost vary over time and in relation to geography, the availability of qualified professionals, and materials; and that the sheet is not a substitute for obtaining quotes for three qualified contractors.

My lawyer has no concerns for any additional liability, clients get what they want, and I get to be helpful. Everyone wins.

If I can’t identify the problem, clearly I cannot provide an estimate (to use Jae’s exmple), however if I can identifiy a bad thermocouple as opposed to a coplete failure of the unit, then I can set a resaonable expecation for the client. If you don’t kow what is wrong in the first place, no one can expect you to provide a reasonable cost estimate, and a referral is appropriate. But referring nearly everything out and providing no helpful information, even when it is easily obtained, is just bad customer service.

After thirty years as a building and remodeling contractor, I have personally come to realize that estimating or bidding is a very inexact science. There used to be a joke going around: What do they call a remodeler who works on a fixed bid? Answer: Bankrupt! A visual inspection does not give enough information to give accurate estimates. Just keeping up with materials costs is almost a full time job. I don’t put fluff in my reports and I don’t give cost estimates for repairs. In my opinion, the proper thing is to call out the damage and refer costs to experts in the given field.

The problem with estimates is that they are estimated. In Florida licensed contractors are not permitted to give estimates at all. They can only issue proposals for work they are prepared to perform. If contractors licensed by the state can’t perform written estimates, why should we? The most costly repair work is likely to be that which is most difficult to “estimate” from a visual inspection. HI’s have been sued and lost for recommending the wrong type of further evaluation. I think it is likely that they will also be liable for less than accurate representations of costs to repair.

Thus my point! Why pay a HI to find problem area’s only to have to bring in a contractor(s) to find an aprox. repair cost? I mean no offense to HI’s. For my money I’d be better off bringing in a Restoration Contractor who can point out problem area’s & still give me a cost estimate. I think I would get a bigger bang for my buck! Doug

For anyone interested in case law; I have been in court and they were all over the minor repair/major repair headings that I posted on deficiencies. The first page my report lists all the categories which I put on the deficiencies in my report to identify them for quick reference. Basically, minor repairs are under $500 in major repairs are over $500.

If you have water damage in the ceiling is a repair over $500? Probably.
If you’re gutters are stopped up with little trees growing in them, is gutter maintenance less than $500? Probably.
If gutters that are stopped up caused the ceiling damage, is it now over $500? They seem to think so.

Even though the state law does not put a dollar tag on what they consider considerably deficient, the lawyers were all over my interpretation of what major and minor was.

So, if you want to play their game in court, put some numbers in there!

My lawyer advised me to take everything out of the report. I modified it to be associated with the state law:

MAJOR REPAIR: These are repairs that are significantly deficient.

MINOR REPAIR: These are repairs that that do not function as intended. It should be noted that items annotated as being minor are by no means insignificant and should not be ignored.

As you may gather, the plaintiffs lawyer tried to make minor repair so insignificant that their client simply overlooked it and didn’t give it any consideration.

Because our job is not to go there and inspect the house to do the repairs.

A home inspection report lists all the deficiencies that are significant. We have no way of knowing which repairs the client is going to want completed or how they want it done.

Why should a contractor do it? Because they’re the one that will be potentially doing the work. If you are a contractor you would know that any repair that has latent deficiencies cannot be estimated as you don’t know what you’re going to find when you open up the wall floor or ceiling. A plumber doesn’t know what kind of damage they have below a toilet when they have to reset the toilet. You can give them a cost to reset the toilet but you better have something in there to cover the further damages that may be found during demolition.

Home inspector can’t do this. If they do, what worth is the estimate to your client anyway? “It could cost $500 to fix this, but it might cost $10,000 if something occurred”. That’s really useful!

during the weekends, when i have time. i drop in to the open houses and say hi leaving my card and brochure with the agent. Sunday i ran into an agent that told me of a story about an inspector that was doing just that giving quotes on how much items would cost to fix. Well the whole office is dropping the inspector from their referral list. i would like to know who that inspector is, id love to thank him.

Read the NACHI SOP, and proceed with caution. I am a contractor and many Realtors no it, they also no I will not give an estimate to repair, for me it’s a conflict of interest, also due to the varied overhead cost from one company to another there is no way you can accurately give a cost to repair.
You have to remember that most consumers are fairly well educated when it comes to expectations.

Sorry about the spelling errors, I’ve been at the computer all day doing estimate’s and I’m a little burned out!

Let me take a WAG… You live in a state where the government has socialized our profession through licensing and you advertise that you have E&O.

Not am I just a home inspector but also a Swami, guess your weight for a buck.

You are very correct! You are taking a wild a$$ guess!

Get with Bushart and wild a$$ guess your A$$ through this!

You are right. In fact, there is an association that specializes not only in home inspections and repair estimates, but can actually arrange for the repair itself. Contact them.

No one is forcing you to provide estimates yet, but I would expect enterprising individuals who wish to set themselves apart from less experienced home inspectors will find that supplying cost estimates of major defects will help grow their business faster then those who do not. It has been the case with me here in Florida. :smiley:

Florida and Tennessee work under a different set of rules.

I have clients ask me all the time about estimated cost of repair. I never provide an estimate, but I do provide a course of action to take to determine estimated costs which the client is more than happy with. I have never had anyone asked me during a PreInspection interview if I provided estimates, nor have I had anyone decline to hire me because I did not.

Tennessee home inspection law:
paragraph 6 general exclusions
(a) home inspectors are not required to report on:
2. The cause of the need for a repair
3. The methods, materials and costs of correction