What you should expect at the inspection

What you should expect at the inspection

When buying a home, most home buyers will want to have an inspection to ensure they are not buying a scraper (a scraper is comparable to the term lemon when referring to a car that’s more trouble than it’s worth).

So how much does an inspection cost?

Typically $200 to $800 – based on type of inspection and size of home.

As with almost everything in real estate it depends. Inspection fees are not regulated so the fee will vary by the inspector and the scope of inspection. I find most home buyers assume all inspectors and inspections are similar; nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are some of the variables from one inspector to the next:

  • Experience – some inspectors are new to the industry and while they have taken a class on how to do inspections while their background might not have anything to do with building, homes, or general contractor work. Or to the contrary, you may have a retired home builder who still enjoys working with structures.
  • Level of Expertise – the name of the game in home inspections is to shift liability. Many inspectors will simply call for a higher level if anything is seen that could come back to haunt them. For example, if an inspector sees one carpenter ant, you can guarantee the report will call for a professional exterminator. The number of items calling for a higher level of expertise is almost unlimited.
  • Type of Inspections – are you having a whole house inspection, a soil stability inspection based on hillside homes, lead-based paint inspection or other hazardous material inspections, a sewer scope and inspection, a structural inspection by an engineer rather than a home inspector, a wood-destroying organism inspection, an indoor air quality inspection, child-safety inspection, etc.   The list for types of inspections is almost inexhaustible. Obviously some of these inspections require a greater skill or education level and as the inspection becomes more specialized, the fees for such inspections increase.
  • Scope of Inspections – we can’t talk about this enough. Does the inspection include outbuildings? Fences? Roofs? Roofs over 3-stories tall? Plumbing fixtures? Will the inspector go in the crawl space and attic? Was the permit history explored? What about the neighborhood or common neighborhood amenities? Special features like a Solar PV system, waterfront bulkheads or piers, or a swimming pool? Or perhaps you want a less comprehensive inspection, like a Pre-inspection walk-through with no written report.

Fee ranges based by inspection type

Now that we’ve covered the types of inspections, let’s break down some very rough estimates of what different types of inspections might run.

These figures represent my experience with the greater Puget Sound region in Washington State and are intended as only a rough guideline to familiarize you with the types of fees that you might need to be prepared to pay or negotiate as part of your contract. The types of inspections mentioned here are for the sole benefit of the buyer and are separate from any inspections a lender may require.

Please note, an appraisal is not an inspection.