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Inspection Pricing  

I recently inspected a one bedroom, one bathroom townhouse. The townhouse sold for less than $100,000. The Realtor made the comment to my client that my fee for the inspection was outrageously high for such a small house. This is a common comment made by Realtors who, for some reason, feel free to comment on what other professionals charge for their services. Allow me to note that Realtors do not cut their fees when they sell $100,000 houses and that I am not the one driving the Mercedes or the BMW. A 900 square foot townhouse contains the same components as a 2,500 square foot house does. The 900 square foot townhouse has a foundation, structural framing, a roof, an electrical system, a plumbing system, heating and air conditioning and appliances, etc. A townhouse or a condominium has an increase in potential problems because there are neighbors sharing common walls. An inspector cannot access or inspect all components of a building containing a townhouse or a condominium so the inspector cannot be sure of the condition of the entire building. This increases the risk of making an error in judgment to the inspector. Then there is the question of time. It takes me between 2.5 and 3 hours at the residence to do an inspection on a 2,500 square foot house. It takes about the same amount of time to inspect a 900 square foot townhouse. I know that there are many, many inspectors who will take great exception to the amount of time I say it takes to do an inspection. That’s because they can do them in less than an hour. I’ve been inspecting houses since 1974 and I think I know most of the ways to save time on an inspection by now. In addition, I chaired the standards of practice sub committee when the original minimum standards of practice for real estate inspections were written and I chaired the standards of practice sub committee when the standards were recently updated. So, I am very familiar with what an inspector is required to do, at a minimum. And it cannot be done properly in an hour. After the inspection, I have to process the photographs, which is so much simpler since the advent of digital cameras and I have to write the report. This process takes about an hour and a half. The purpose of the inspection is to provide you with information on the residence and its various components. That takes time. If the inspector does not provide you with information so that you understand the condition of the residence and its components, what was the point of the inspection? I spend roughly the same amount of time on the 900 square foot townhouse or condominium that I do on the 2,500 to 3,000 square foot single family, free standing residence. Why would I charge less for an inspection of a townhouse or condo? And, to restate what I wrote in a previous article, it is the person buying the $100,000 house who needs the older, more experienced, more detailed, and more expensive inspector than the person buying the $7,000,000 house does. The person buying the $7,000,000 can afford a new air conditioner. So, if you are buying a lower priced house, you need to understand that the extra couple of hundred dollars you spend for a detailed, thorough inspection can save you many thousands of dollars and may be the best investment you ever make in your new home. Maybe you can get your Realtor to cut their fee to help pay for the inspector.