Think of a home inspector as a general physician performing a physical exam for a patient. The role of the general physician is to assess the overall health of the patient. If specific concerns are noted that need further action or review, a referral to a specialist is done.
The same is true for home inspectors. Our role isn’t to provide repair estimates for all the things we find during our inspection, but instead, we make you aware of all the issues observed, and where we can give you solid repair recommendations, we do. However, at times we may need to refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.
So that’s the short answer, but why don’t home inspectors give repair estimates?
Home Inspectors are not Contractors
While many home inspectors have a background as a contractor or builder, once they enter the inspection industry the vast majority stop performing contract work and focus on inspecting only. The value this brings to the consumer is in receiving the opinion of a person with experience in the home construction industry, but also the separation and removal of any conflict of interest that could arise when an inspector is also a contractor.
In fact, professional inspection associations such as ASHI and Inter-NACHI require that home inspectors adhere to a strict code of ethics, that prevent inspectors from securing contractor work on a home they have inspected. This removes the risk that a home inspector will “discover” problems in a home that benefit their contractor business.
It may sound disparaging to refer to home inspectors as generalists, but in fact an experienced home inspector can know significantly more than most contractors about home conditions and common concerns.
Most contractors work on a limited number of projects every year, since many construction projects can take time to complete, whereas the average home inspector performs hundreds of home inspections per year and can have inspected thousands of homes over their time inspecting.
The sheer volume of homes inspected provides inspectors with a unique skill in identifying common concerns and alerting to you to problems present that a contractor may not even be aware of. Also, the majority of contractors are specialists in their one field. Even if they are a general contractor, they often will sub-contract tasks to specialists, limiting their direct knowledge of all areas of a home.
That is where the strength of a home inspector comes in. As a generalist, they have the ability to view the home from a macro-perspective, while maintaining their independence and not working as a contractor. Since home inspectors are not contractors actively working in the trades, the knowledge of current pricing for specific improvements is not readily known by the inspector. Because of this, home inspectors give repair estimates very infrequently.
Let your home inspector act in the role of generalist, and then lean on the trade specialists to provide you with detailed repair quotes for issues discovered.
Rely on Your Real Estate Agent Partner
Once a home inspection is complete, a written report is prepared and delivered to you and your real estate agent. When the two of you sit down to review the report, you will come up with a shorter list of concerns that may end up being added to your inspection-objection list to present to the seller. If there are items identified by the inspector that make it on that list, it is as this stage where you may need to obtain quotes and repair costs from a specialist.
This is where the strength of the real estate agent comes in. All good agents maintain a list of contractor contacts that they can lean on to provide detailed quotes from concerns the inspector noted. The agent can help you to gather quotes from specialists and help guide you through the remainder of the inspection-objection and contract negotiation process.
Success in purchasing a home involves having the right team on your side. A great agent will help you find the home of your dreams, then help you assemble a winning team to guide you through the process. A reputable, experienced home inspector will help identify concerns present, then hand the ball back to you and your agent, who can then pull in the needed specialists to put some numbers to the concerns.
Ensure you have a solid team on your side and understand where each person’s strengths are, to help you secure your dream home.
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