Most home buyers don’t know anything about a home inspection other than their real estate agent said they should get one. So the first thing on their mind is, “Oh, great… how much is that going to cost me?”

Instead of thinking of a home inspection as a cost, think about it as an investment. An investment in information that could potentially save you thousands of dollars, or in the very least give you peace of mind that you are not buying a bunch of headaches. In today’s day and age, information is power. The more information you have about the property the better you are able to judge whether you want to make that investment or not.

On average, an investment for a general home inspection in Kansas City will cost between $350 and $400. That usually doesn’t include additional inspections like Wood Destroying Organisms (termite) or Radon Measurement, those are extra, but often times can be reduced if bundled with the home inspection. Think about an additional $100 to $200.

There are also additional inspections including; sewer line scoping, mold testing, lead based paint testing, pool and spa testing, asbestos testing and other specialized tests. Some inspectors charge additional fees for square footage, age (50 years or older is common), out buildings (like separate garage buildings), or the number of bathrooms. Some even charge more if the home has a crawlspace. Inspectors have different prices based on different criteria. There is no one size fits all.

If you’re shopping for a home inspector, don’t let price enter the equation. There are some great inspectors that charge very little and there are some bad inspectors that charge a lot. It all comes down to the information that’s gathered and how well it’s expressed in a written report. Take your time and search out inspectors that will give you a sample report, either on their website or emailed directly to you. Read the report and decide if they provide the level of detail that you are looking for.

In the end, it’s the information contained in the report that you’re paying for. How well is the overall condition explained? Does the inspector give recommendations on what to do when an issue is found? How complete was the report? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself.

What if the house fails the inspection?.

A house neither passes or fails an inspection, that happens only when the house is inspected by a city code inspector after it was first built or when changes were made that required a permit. Home inspectors are not code inspectors. The home inspection is designed to give you a clear picture of the overall condition of the house at the time of the inspection.

Think of the inspection like going to the doctor. First you go see your general practitioner and He (or She) gets a general idea of what’s wrong. Sometimes they send you off to a specialist, like a dermatologist or cardiologist, which means that they found something that they think is a problem, but they need a specialist for a correct diagnosis. This is the same as the inspection.

The home inspector is like the general practitioner, observing and probing for information. When something is found, they either explain it to the home buyer and recommend additional action, or they refer to a specialist to gain a more detailed diagnosis and specific corrective measures.

Some issues may be of immediate concern, like the sink is leaking or the oven doesn’t turn on, but others can have a more long term affects and if changes aren’t made, could depreciate the investment over a period of time. A simple problem like downspouts that terminate next to the foundation is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix, however if not fixed will have long term consequences to the property. Something that simple can save hundreds if not thousands of dollar in the long run.

How long does a Home Inspection take?

The actual inspection can take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size of the property and the individual components. For an average inspection, total time spent from the first phone call to the finished report is about six hours. If a Radon Measurement is performed, increase that to eight. Add in all the other ancillary items (like drive time, research on the property beforehand, phone calls to and from agents, etc…) and it could take a total of ten hours.

But you aren’t paying just for the Inspectors time, you’re paying for his experience, training, tools and the ability to give you a clear picture of the property you are purchasing. The time spent at the property is a fraction of the time it takes to generate a comprehensive report that has meaning to the home buyer.

I also recommend that all my clients attend the inspection, it’s a great idea and I guarantee you will learn something new. Some inspectors (like me) enjoy the process of explaining issues as they see them. Others would rather concentrate on the inspection, then give a verbal summary at the end, before the report is delivered. It’s a personal preference, but you should ask your inspector how he prefers to work and work with the one that will work with you.

Reports are generally delivered within twenty-four hours after completing the inspection. Some inspectors promise to deliver the report before the end of the inspection. In my opinion, that is not a good idea and here’s why. If they deliver the report by the end of the inspection, that means they are using canned language (language that comes with the inspection software) that is very general. For instance, some reports will contain language like this; “One or more of the electrical outlets is not grounded”. That’s all well and fine, but which ones? What do I do about it and why is that a problem? The information should be tailored to your specific home, if not, they are just cutting corners.

In summary, the home inspection should be viewed much like the home itself; an investment. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, so don’t look for the cheapest. Instead, invest with a company that will put the time and effort into the inspection, give you detailed information and be available to answer questions you have after the inspection is completed.