Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Value vs price for a home inspection

This post is intended to discuss why you should hire me over other home inspectors. There is a lot of self horn tooting here, so be forewarned.

The Inspection
The truth is, our home inspection process is not unique. Just about all home inspectors go through the same training and learn to provide the same service.

Here's a dirt little secret. The majority of inspectors will provide the same quality inspection that I do. There are a few inspectors that may not be quite as good as I am. There are probably even some inspectors that do a measurably better inspection than I do. I haven't met them yet, but I have to assume that they exist. Better quality inspectors will go above and beyond (like using infrared to find issues or providing a termite inspection report) but the basic inspection process is going to be pretty close to the same.

So if everyone is doing the same inspection that I am, why would anyone hire me over someone with an alphabetically more advantageous company name? Or someone that charges $50 less than I do?

Here's why (almost): The inspection process is only a third of what we do. It's also the easiest third of what we do. The state of Texas even tells you exactly what you can and can't do during the inspection. That's why everyone is on pretty even ground when it comes to the inspection.

The Report
The middle third of what we do is the report. Again, the Texas Real Estate Commission has decided on a format for inspection reports. However, there is some leeway here. Some inspectors will write an 80 page report for the same inspection that another person would write a 40 page report. Is the 80 page report twice as good as the 40 page report? Probably not, but I can guarantee that it's twice as long. Some guys use different reporting software that adds boiler plate language based on the different issues. Other inspectors are so afraid of lawsuits, they will write a sentence about the discrepancy, a paragraph explaining why it's a discrepancy (with code sources) and a paragraph explaining why it's not there fault that it's a discrepancy. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with those types of reports, but I prefer to write fact based reports without a lot of disclaimers or legal language. I like my reports to be readable because I want them to be read and referred back to by the homeowner even after they close on the house.

But, like inspections, most reports in Texas will have the same essential elements: a list of issues with photographs of the issues. So I'm not going to claim that my reports are a reason to hire me either (although I like my reports).

The Explanation
It's the last third of the process that is the difference between me and most other home inspectors. We'll call this the explanation part of the process. This part of the process is not really taught to home inspectors, and TREC doesn't have much to say about it either. But to my mind, this is the most important part of the process and it's the part that I am really good at. In a nutshell, this is the time that I spend with the client at the house going over everything that is going to be in the report (and a few things that may not be). I might share maintenance and repair tips, discuss contractors, even talk about the home buying process after the inspection. I have spent longer discussing the inspection with clients than it took me to do the inspection and write the report. I am not going to hustle a client off because I have other things to do. I am going to address every concern and question the client has (and sometimes the concerns and questions of their agents, family members, in-laws and prospective neighbors). The report serves as a visual reference for the discussion I had with the clients about the house.

This is what differentiates me from the pack and that is why I am the guy to call. That is also why realtors like to refer me to their clients. I can explain things in an objective way with the knowledge that I have no stake in the buyer purchasing the house. I want the client to have all of the information they can get to help with their decision making process. The first question a lot of clients ask me is "Did the house pass?" I have to explain to them that this isn't a pass/fail type of inspection. It's mostly made up of gray area, with some parts grayer than others. Once I discuss the issues with them, they will have to decide what things they want the seller to address, or if they want to pass on the house and keep looking at other houses. That is extremely rare and is usually the result of the seller not being willing to address a major issue.

For the record, there are two other inspectors in my area that do a very good job with the post-inspection explanation process. I'm not going to say who they are here, but if you ever call me and I can't fit you into my schedule, these are the guys I am going to refer you to.

Anyway, I went on longer than I intended to, but I really wanted to explain why I'm proud of what I do and the value that I provide my clients. As always, I hope you will go to TexasInspected.com the next time you need to have an inspection done.

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