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Welcome to our blog on topics of relevant to everyone interested in home ownership, maintenance, renovation, buying, and selling. RJ Miller Building Professionals provides home inspections, commercial property condition assessments, building code assessments, custom home design, and project management.

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How Much Should a Good Home Inspection Cost

Blog Issue #: 

2

Differences Between Inspections and Between Inspectors

Quality of the Report: Depth and Breadth

Depth

It is not possible to produce the same depth of reporting using an automatically generated report filed on site as it is writing a custom report over a longer period of time.

What you are likely to find in a detailed custom report:

  1. Each deficiency complete with:
    1. a useful explanation of why each particular item should matter;
    2. a reasonable recommendation on how to address the item; and
    3. an optional reference to a well recognized source such as a building code or authoritative published source.
  2. A collection of photos complete with illustrations, text, and symbols to further explain the observed conditions.
  3. A narrative style summary of major issues and complex topics.
  4. Limited use of boiler plate text to describe the property.

Breadth

Reporting styles are at the discretion of the home inspector but must meet the standards of practice set by their respective association, if they are a member of an association. The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors has adopted the CAN/CSA A770-16 standard for home inspections as a SoP. The standard, introduced in 2016, was produced in collaboration with home inspectors, regulators, technical specialists, and consumer agencies, with the intent of improving consistency in industry practices, improving quality of service, and enhancing consumer protection.

At the time of this writing, no other home inspection association has adopted this standard.

 


Simple Reports - Few Pages
(Generated Immediately After the Inspection)
vs.
Detailed Custom Reports - Many Pages
(Prepared After a Longer Period of Time)

 

Compare the difference between basic images, usually found in simple reports, with annotated images, found in most detailed reports. Can you recognize the deficiency depicted in each picture? How easily can you scan through all the images in a report without referring to the text?

Without Illustrations
With Notes, Illustrations and Symbols
Unequal tread depth

Qualifications of the Inspector: Education and Experience

Be aware that all home inspectors are not equal. There are as many different standards of practice for home inspections as there are many organizations accepting members and certifying home inspectors. Each organization has different objectives and therefore differing standards of acceptance. For more information on what to look for when it is time to hire an inspector, read Top Mistakes to Avoid with Home Inspections and our own page on professional values.

Differences Between Properties

Inspectors use a number of methods to come up with a price, while others have a flat rate. Most however, base pricing on the quantity of work involved and consider the following points.

Size of the Property: Overall Dimensions, Number of Storeys, and Other Metrics

The overall size of a property, from number of storeys to floor area, has a big impact on the amount of work an inspector must perform. More stairs, more rooms, more walking, more photographs, etc., increase the reporting burden. In a similar fashion, more expensive homes generally have more plumbing, electrical, equipment, and accessory buildings, just to name a few. some inspectors use a ratio of the listing price, or a ratio of the floor area to arrive at a price. Below are two examples with sample ratios. Most inspections are likely to cost close to these amounts in this local real estate market.

Note: In higher priced markets, the listing ratio could be much less, and the floor area much more. Ask your real estate professional to provide some examples to find tune these numbers to suit your own purposes. However, the average cost of a home inspection typically ranges from $400 to $600.

Ratio of Listing Price Ratio of Floor Area
 +  400k    Listing $
 *  125.00% (example)
 --------------------
 = $500.00  Fee
 + 2,500.00  Square footage
 *    20.00% (example)
 --------------------------
=   $500.00 Fee

Age of the Property: Old, New, and In-between

In broad terms, older properties take longer to inspect because they have a higher percentage of renovations, repairs, leaks, deterioration, use, weathering, and similar factors. They also deviate further from current construction codes which--although they are not required to be upgraded immediately--often leave the inspector debating which differences should be noted (home inspections are not code inspections, but they are related).

New construction is also difficult to inspect. These buildings are so new they may not have experienced four seasons, let alone been occupied for a period of time. An inspector will have to examine these buildings very carefully, with special attention to design faults, to identify potential problems that may arise in the future. In addition, new construction is heavily compared with building codes because builders are required to code compliant. Furthermore, new owners will not accept damage to interior finishes and poorly functioning components. This requires a sharp eye.

How Much To Inspect: Number of Suites, Accessory Buildings, Heating Sources, Garages, etc.

Each major component requires its own inspection and has a dedicated section in most reports. Plumbing systems, for example, are inspected and reported separately from electrical systems. For each suite (the primary living area colloquially referred to as the "main unit" and the apartment are both suites), an inspector expects to find a separate electrical service and distribution panel, hot water tank, heat recovery ventilator, kitchen, bathroom, heating system, and several other components. These should be reported separately from other suites, and the walls and floors between suites has to be inspected as a fire separation.

Accessory buildings are not commonly included with home inspections and, according to the CAN/CSA A770-16 standard, must be specifically included in the contract. However, inspectors should examine these buildings for building services attached to the main property (e.g. electrical).

Extras

Some inspectors will include extras in their quote, while others leave these extra costs out to be added later. For exaple, accessory buildings like detached garages are not part of the main house and are usually not included. These same may apply to physical features like swimming pools, special services like a sewer scope, or environmental hazards like asbestos.

Examples of environmental hazards generally charged as an extra:

  • Asbestos
  • Mould
  • Radon
  • Lead
  • Humidity Monitoring

In Review

  • Each inspector follows their own method to determine how price is calculated.
  • Methods used for calculations typically follow a flat rate, a ratio of size, a ratio of listing price, an hourly rate, or factor the complexity of the property.
  • Older homes generally cost more than newer homes, but brand new homes are an exception to the rule.
  • The time spent by each inspector varies, often by many hours. Ask how long an inspection takes!
  • Larger reports take much longer to prepare. Ask how detailed your report will be!
  • Some inspectors charge for extras.

The Bottom Line

As the axiom that you get what you pay for is very true for home inspections. It is not usually in your best interest to select the cheapest price: inspectors are not created equally.

A typical home inspection in Newfoundland and Labrador costs around $500, with simple bungalos and townhouses costing less. Large home and houses with apartments will cost $525 or more. Some inspectors charge more for additional services like thermal imaging or may apply surcharges for crawlspaces, long distances, or unusual features. Some inspectors also perform radon or mould testing however this is beyond the scope of a standard home inspection.

Ask for a Quote

RJ Miller Building Professionals provides a quotation with every inspection based on the overall difficulty and work involved for each inspection. Expensive homes and large homes do not necessarily cost more. If you would like to know how much it will cost to inspect a property, or to go ahead and schedule an inspection, please complete this form.

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