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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ingleside Illinois
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    118

    Cool Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    After doing inspections for 8 years I still have not come up with a way of estimating I'm comfortable using. I try to remain competitive with others in my area. I charge by home size # of beds and baths, 2-3 car garage basement full, or crawl.
    The other day after providing an estimate based on the above criteria the home turned out to be almost 5000 sq feet, not what I estimated based on beds and baths. Of course I always ask if they have any idea of square footage and normally they don't.

    I'd like to hear how others do this, I don't want to change my price after getting to the inspection but I don't see much alternative in some cases. Thanks for your input.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville, TN
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    2,446

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    If my clients don't know the square footage, I tell them to call back when they have abetter idea, since that's how I price the inspection.
    I have also called the Realtor and asked them, or looked it up on the MLS.
    I use square footage and age as my criteria. I also ask about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as kitchens in large homes. IN very large homes, I ask about # of laundry rooms, HVAC units and any other things out of the ordinary, like maids quarters, or Mother in law suites.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    I price by age and square footage. Tax records are online in counties I normally inspect. Given an address, I pull up the tax records and go from there. Tax records are usually within 100 square feet.

    Homes over 25 years old get a surcharge of $1 per year of age. They take longer to inspect and longer to write the report.

    Most homes in the area have two HVAC systems. The odd extra HVAC system is not worth worrying about.

    Most homes have crawlspaces in my area. No surcharge for crawls but no rebates for slab or basement. Just an easier day for me.

    Last edited by Bruce Ramsey; 05-13-2010 at 06:30 PM.
    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ingleside Illinois
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    118

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Unfortunately the information isn't available for one of the counties I serve. I tried using the mls but often it's a non-listed property. When I get a call I'm not always near my computer and I don't have WiFi if I'm I the field.

    I wish the clients weren't always in a hurry when they call, I feel if I don't close the deal when I have them on the phone they'll go elsewhere. I appreciate your replys guys


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    1,078

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    I understand the need to close the deal on the first call. Clients know the approximate square footage, they just don't know the exact footage.

    I have prices based on ranges of square footage. Up to 1000 X price, 1001-1500 Y price, 1501-3500 Z price, over 3500 so much a square foot. They can get a ballpark on my price based on that. I tell them to check with the agent and/or I tell the price is at least Y and may increase to Z based on the actual square footage. If over Z then they can do the math and know the price. Most scramble around in their paperwork and find a number that is usually within 100 square feet.

    The 1000-1500 are price shopping and they know their square footage. $5 more than the next guy and you are out of the running. 1500-3500 you can be $25-$50 different. Over 3500 and price is not really a concern unless you are too low.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  6. #6
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
    mathew stouffer Guest

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    What kind of insulation is the, it looked like layers of paper. Any known concerns. Can the vapor barrier be exposed?

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Just about every buyer is going to know the square footage of what they are buying. This is pretty much how offers are figured when they work with their agent an d make an offer. Granted some don't have a clue, but their agent will and should know the size of the home.

    I figure my price based on the size of the home and how long I think it is going to take me on site. There is little difference between 3 bathrooms and 4 bathrooms, maybe an extra five minutes at most. Same goes for bedrooms, they all have 4 walls, a window or two and a door.

    I know how much I want and need to make per hour during an inspection. I know that I can inspect 4,000 sf home or a 5,000 sf in just about the same amount of time or within 15-30 minutes of the other. Larger homes just have larger rooms and that is about it.

    Price your inspections based on the amount of time you will be spending. Time is about all we can control and charge for in our profession.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
    daniel nantell's Avatar
    daniel nantell Guest

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Just go to Zillow.com and put address in , It will give you the size , last sale price and quite a bit of info.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon
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    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    sq ft and age is how I generate prices... you have to take the good with the bad. There are just as many that guess low as high..... old vs. new.

    And, as mentioned, the info on 90% of the houses I set appointments for can be found by entering the address into Google. Zillow, Redfin, Estately are just a few and there are many more. I mainly look them up just to be sure I have a correct address and to get a sneak peek at whether or not the place is a dump (plan on 1 hour or 5 for report writing).

    I never sweat the fluctuations in size/age for pricing. At the end of the year it all balances out for the most part. fwiw I find county records to be low... since agents routinely overstate the sq ft it's best to use zillow or the mls sheet if people don't know.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Washington State
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    579

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    When quoting prices I always ask for the square feet, age of home, crawlspace, basement etc. I also ask if it's a foreclosure or distressed property, if so I ask if utilities are all on. Most times people usually have a close estimate of square feet. If they are not sure on the size I ask more questions, like how many bedrooms and baths etc.

    If I quoted a price based on a 2500 sq ft house and arrived at a 5000 sq ft house, I would explain to them that it will cost more money. If they can afford a 5000 sq ft house the can afford the extra money. If not, walk away from it and say have a nice day.


  11. #11
    Mike Richart's Avatar
    Mike Richart Guest

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Your local Property Appraisers web sit should be able to answer alot of your questions.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    3,473

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    When a caller doesn't know the square footage but it is clear they are buying a larger home, I advise that I can just charge as hourly rate as it is the most fair way to do it for both of us.

    Unknown crawlspaces really get my hackles up, especially after I ask specifically about them when quoting a price. I know I should bump the price up on the spot for situations like these but I just suck it up.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    When a caller doesn't know the square footage but it is clear they are buying a larger home, I advise that I can just charge as hourly rate as it is the most fair way to do it for both of us.

    Finally, someone who charges as I did (okay, you are not charging that way all the time ... yet ... ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Finally, someone who charges as I did (okay, you are not charging that way all the time ... yet ... ).
    I'd prefer to do it this way all the time if I knew people would go for it. I rarely get out of a house in less than 3 hours.


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Ingleside, never even heard of that as a City kid. Is that up NW of Grayslake or somewhere near cheesehead land. I'll have to look it up.
    Obviously as others have mentioned asking about the home is key to figuring out a price. In the City I know the housing stock pretty well, unless it is some odd ball I pretty much know what is in the neighborhood. I also got bit a few times in early years on the size, mostly in the burbs. Sometimes you just never know what's out there.
    Whenever I get a sense that the property might be an oddball, I try to sell the inspection as much as possible during the initial call without a price. If the client is 'willing' to have a discussion, not just price shop, I can buy time to look the property up and call them back with a price.
    I've done what turned out to be a McMansion at normal price but won't do it again. It's also not fair to the client to show up and then change the terms or be upset about having to do the job.
    Having done it, I would rather lose the job than do a job that is way under bid. When a caller doesn't have much info on a house they are looking at buying, I start to get suspicious.
    If it turns out to be a really big or odd house, I have also given customers an hourly rate and an estimated range of how many hours it might take. Since the majority of my work is referral, people are usually reasonable about it. On cold calls it doesn't go over well. People like a definite price. I'm not willing to put myself in a sink hole though.

    Last edited by Markus Keller; 05-19-2010 at 07:05 AM. Reason: finish post
    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    South-West Michigan
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    469

    Post Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    I have been calculating fees based on square footage, number of buildings on the property, or number of units for duplexes or apartments, for many years now. I find it to be an effective way to estimate the amount of time the inspection will take. There have been a few exceptions, but only a few.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  17. #17
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
    Kevin Luce Guest

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    I don't go by time. I primarily go by what I need to run my business. Amount to pay all bills, pay the secretary (required since not a family member), pay myself at least $800 a week, taxes and profit for business.

    up to 1000 sq ft = $325
    1001 to 3000 sq ft = $400
    3001 to 5000 sq ft = $500
    * Not many houses over 5000 sq ft around here.

    I do give big discounts on WDI ($125 to $50) and Radon test ($150 to $75) with home inspections since I have found that many do like to pay over $550 for multiple services.

    Most houses around here are not complicated. 80% of the houses I can describe the layout and materials used just by knowing the style of house and year it was built.


  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    358

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Age and square footage has worked well for me over the past 8 years. Any house up to 2,000 sq.ft, 1950 or newer is my base rate. Additional sq.ft is $25 per every additional 500 sq.ft-2001-2500sq.ft, so on and so forth. Also, if older than 1950, additional $25 per decade. If the House is 4K - I consider that two residences and double my base rate - 6k and it triples. There are several sites you can check square footage and age of residences on - MLSOnline, Redfin, Zillo, and most major Real Estate Companies sites as well. Many also include several photos of the property so you can get a good idea of what you may be in for.


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fuquay Varina, NC
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    1,072

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Mine is the same as Bruce's or should I say Bruce stole mine......

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Is there a better to estimate inspection cost

    Bruce, I like the idea of the $1 surcharge for each year over 25. I quote based on square footage for the most part, however, for several years I have debated on what to do on a home, say built in the early seventies (my very least favorite time period for homes) wherein you know there are generally quite a few additional conditions to report, which does take quite a bit of extra time, both at the inspection and when typing up the report....photos, etc.

    I may consider this.

    The biggest factor I think when giving a quote, however, is being prepared to quote immediately. If you have to ask the client to call back when they have the info, you risk losing them to a bidder who just throws a price out there. I have told clients to give me fifteen minutes and I will call them back and have never lost an inspection due to that short delay.

    greg


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