Everybody likes something for less, or so it seems. We clip coupons. We wait for sales, rather than buying now. We know somebody who can cut us a deal. We haggle with salespeople for lower prices.
That might be all right if we’re on a car lot or at a yard sale. But, do we negotiate with doctors, lawyers, or other professionals over their fees? Probably not. Then why do home buyers, or sellers, try to drive down the price of a home inspection? If you are buying a home, where you and your family will live for years to come, and want to feel safe there, do you want the most thorough home inspection you can find, or the cheapest?
As a home inspector, I have faced many bargain hunters over the telephone. They complain and want cheap. “The other guy I talked to is cheaper. Can you do any better on the price? I really wanted a home inspection, but ….”
Sometimes, a day or two before the inspection, after I have arranged my schedule to accommodate Mr. and Mrs. Cheap, they call to cancel. They promise to reschedule, but I know they won’t call. It’s their loss. I’ve never had a client say he or she was disappointed after I conducted a home inspection, or complain about my fee.
It reminds me of a story:
Pablo Picasso, the painter, was dining at a restaurant in New York City. A fan introduced herself and gushed at how thrilled she was to meet the great artist and how she loved his work. Encouraged by Mr. Picasso's polite acceptance, the fan begged,
"Oh, Mr. Picasso, would you draw me a sketch?"
Picasso grabbed some paper, and with a pen, promptly sketched the waiters passing parfaits. As the woman reached for the sketch, Pablo Picasso said, "Madame, that will be $10,000."
Shocked, she replied, "But that only took you 5 minutes."
"No Madame," replied Picasso, "it took me 50 years."
Picasso priced his service to its value, not to the cost of manufacture. Picasso did not price his service based on the cost of the paper, plus the cost of ink, plus some hourly wage ... and neither should a home inspector.
A typical home inspector has years of experience in the building trades before he/she decides to become a home inspector. He/she then spends many hours in the classroom to become certified. Then, the home inspector invests hours in the field inspecting, to ensure his clients that he is qualified. In addition, the home inspector constantly takes continuing education courses, to learn new information and to stay on top of changes in the home construction and real estate businesses.
These courses cost money, and so does renewing the various licenses the home inspector needs to conduct business. If that is not enough, the average home inspector has many hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of specialized equipment to do his job. Of course, the business has a vehicle, and it needs insurance. So does the business itself – liability and errors and emissions insurance, which cost thousands of dollars a year.
In addition to the home inspection, if the client wants, for example, radon, water, or mold testing, there are additional specialized training and equipment necessary. And there are the accompanying laboratory fees the home inspector must pay up front. These are costs in addition to the home inspection charge.
So please, pay for the home inspector’s services at the time of the inspection and don’t haggle over fees. Do you want cheap or peace of mind, knowing you received a quality home inspection?