What’s the Difference Between Home Inspectors?
Unless you live in a relatively rural or isolated area, there probably are multiple home inspectors to chose from one you enter the option period of your contract. In the San Antonio area alone, there are probably a hundred different inspectors you could call, granted the city of San Antonio itself has well over a million people. If you’re buying a home, your realtor probably has a list of their top 3 or 5 favorite inspectors that they’ve worked with and would like you to pick one of them (although you should never let them refer you to just one inspector).
When it comes to choosing a home inspector, what’s the difference between them? A home inspection is a home inspection, right? Not quite. If everybody provided the same service we’d all just be competing on price (and Ensure Home Inspections is the lowest cost inspector in the San Antonio area anyway). Instead, we compete not just on price, but the range of services we offer, the customer support we offer, the quality of our inspections, the tools we use, our availability, and more.
The Price of Home Inspectors
The first difference you notice about home inspectors, and a pretty significant difference that is, is the price. I’ll be writing an entirely separate article about what goes into pricing of an inspection and why some guys get away with charging $400 for an hour and a half inspection, but the short of it is that home inspectors that are more established in the San Antonio and New Braunfels area (or any other area for that matter) can get away with charging a whole lot more for the same or worse service.
How do they get away with this? The reasons are simple:
- Over the years or decades that they’ve been in business, they have had plenty of time to cultivate a group of realtors who are more than happy to refer them.
- After performing thousands of inspections, a percentage of previous clients refer them to their friends
- Because they’ve been in business so long, their websites (often with poor user-interfaces and no worthwhile information) rank close to the first page, giving them free and easy business from unsuspecting home-buyers.
Basically, they get away with it due to sheer numbers. Meanwhile, the quality of their inspections don’t increase, and if anything decrease as things become “routine” for them and they no longer focus on building their reputation (because they already are where they want to be!) Because newer inspectors don’t have a decade or more of referals and connections to piggy-back off-of for work, we have to compete in a more tangible manner: price.
Don’t get me wrong, some “cheap” home inspectors are significantly overpriced; i.e., the inspection that they will perform will end up costing you money rather than saving you money do to missed items and overall neglect. But at the same time, understand that price doesn’t necessarily reflect quality in this business. Just because an inspector is charging you $400 for an inspection doesn’t mean your getting a better inspection, it usually just means that this guys is making $200 an hour or more at your expense.
We compete with other inspectors on price because we know that if clients and agents try our services, they are going to see that our inspection and service quality are as high or higher than our more expensive competition, and likely use us again in the future. We get people to test us with low-cost home inspections, and they stay with us because of high-quality customer service.
The Home Inspection Services Provided
Another difference between home inspectors is the services they provide. If we accept that every home inspection in the San Antonio area or Texas in general is subject to the minimum Standards of Practice laid out by the Texas Real Estate Commission, the difference in services lies in the home inspector going above and beyond the minimal standards.
For example, roof inspections: did you know that a home inspector is only required to carry a ladder capable of reaching the roof of a one-story building? Ladders capable of going on a second-story roof are “specialized tools” and technically outside the scope of the inspection. Because of this, some inspectors will only observe from the ground when inspection multi-story homes. Meanwhile, Home Inspectors at Ensure Home Inspections utilize aerial drones to hover above the roof and observe, taking high-definition photographs that we put in your report for your records.
Ancillary inspection services are another differentiator: does your home inspector provide termite inspections or WDI inspections in house? Or do they need to call and schedule with their buddy to swing by and take a look? You need a license from the Texas Department of Agriculture to do the former, and most home inspectors don’t have a TDA license.
Does the home inspector offer infrared or thermal imaging of the property? What about foundation elevation measurements? What do they charge for these services? There are lots of “upselling” opportunities in the home inspection industry that allow shady home inspectors to take advantage of unsuspecting home-buyers, charging them $200 for what amounts to 15 minutes work in some cases.
The Customer Service and Support
At this point in the business, every home inspector knows that they need to get the client the report ASAP, so a vast majority will ensure you get the report by the next day at the latest. The real support comes with how a home inspector handles the end of an inspection and the questions that come after.
One anecdotal example I’ll use is for a client that was under contract for the third different house they had attempted to buy. The client contacted us after finding us on google, and inquired about the price of an inspection on a 3200ft home with a pool/spa in the backyard, detached deck, and wanted a termite inspection as well. Our price was apparently significantly lower, as she stated that her and her husband couldn’t afford the previous home inspector they had used for the last two houses (refereed by their realtor of course) and booked immediately.
The next day I performed the inspection. The house was in an old but nice area of San Antonio, and the inspection took most of the day due to the size, age, and circumstances of the pool and spa being in complete disrepair. The home-owner’s husband showed up near the end of the inspection to provide payment, and I gave him a walk-through of the inspection that was over an hour-long (I didn’t have any other inspections booked that day).
While some pretty important defects were observed with the home, the client was intent on buying it anyway because they were tired of looking. The client expressed great gratitude towards me for the detailed inspection but more importantly, the in-depth consultation that I provided afterwords detailing what needs to be done on the home, how serious these issues were, etc. The client explained to me that the last inspector, an older man directly referred to by the realtor, performed the last two inspections for similarly sized and aged homes in just a couple of hours, leaving the clients skeptical of the inspection quality.
When they showed up to pay the inspector, he emailed them the (typo-ladden) report on the site after receiving payment, told them to have a nice day, and left. Both times.
No consultation. No question & answer time. No Walk-through. When they emailed questions, he told them to read the report. When they asked again, he told them to contact a qualified contractor.
They were nothing but another number, another inspection among thousands, and he surely had another inspection lined up that day. What an awful feeling for a home-buyer.
Talk To Your Home Inspector Before Hiring Them
If you’re buying a home and need a home inspection in the San Antonio area, of course we’d like you to call us. But if you can’t or you’re not, then make sure you really talk with your inspector to get an idea about what you’re actually paying for. Do your research and don’t go with the first guys your realtor suggests. Know that good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good, but expensive work ain’t always good either!
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Info at EnsureInspections.com
PO BOX 311571, New Braunfels, Texas, 78131
TREC # 23813 - TDA # 0819063
Ensure Home Inspections provides thorough inspections, detailed reports, and personalized consultations at affordable prices in San Antonio, TX & surrounding areas. We also offer WDI/Termite Inspections, Thermal Imaging, Drone Roof Inspections, Foundation Inspections, and more!
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