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  1. #1
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    Default Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Let me rephrase that. Buyers telling me the house does not have a crawlspace or grossly understating the size of the crawlspace is getting on my nerves. Three houses in the past two weeks where nobody seemed to know about crawlspaces when they are plainly apparent, two of which made up well over half of the entire footprint of the house. And the buyers in all three cases didn't bat an eye at it and just had an "oh, how about that" response.......because I haven't tacked on any additional charges. But I definitely need to change that starting now.

    Do any of you put verbiage in your agreements stating extra fees may apply for unknown crawlspaces or crawlspaces that exceed what was described? I want to put something in the agreement that will cover me and give me the discretion to charge an additional fee if needed. Small crawlspaces in small houses are not a big deal. It's the big ones that nobody mentions that rankle me.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I always mention the price of the inspection " based on x square feet, slab foundation, no pool, no outbuildings" etc. so the client knows what the price is based on and if there is a change like a crawl,a pool, etc. then I can adjust. If "I" made the mistake, then I eat the charge. If they tell me the house is 2700' and I get there and find substantially larger house or extras then I'll up the price but that is rare. I will always do on-line research through Zillow and Google maps (Bing gives a birds eye view that is kind of neat) so I usually know what I am getting into before I arrive. I HATE to up a price, I might lower the price depending on certain unforeseen factors but raising a price after I arrive leaves a bad taste in my mouth as I am sure it would for a client. Most times the client nor agent has a clue about crawl spaces.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Nick,

    I usually call the client as soon as I pull up and see that it is a home with a crawlspace. I tell them there is a upcharge for the crawlspace and most have never given me grief about it.
    If they ever do start complaining I let them know of the issues that can be found in the crawlspace and they always say, Sure check it out.
    Don't be afraid to ask for extra charges. Its not your fault you were misinformed of the details of the property.

    rick


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Nick, I make it a point to tell clients on the phone that the price will not go up for extra crawlspaces or attics or if the inspection takes longer than expected. As a matter of fact, we tell people that we will discount the price at the end of the inspection if it goes a lot faster than expected. Doesn't happen too often, but they like to hear it.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    When I lived in So CA, almost all the houses I inspected were crawlspaces, and not one basement. Here in Knoxville, there is a broad mix. I don't charge more for crawls and less for slabs, its the same high price!

    Since I base my prices on doing a crawlspace, its just a little extra when I have a slab.

    I do charge extra for older homes.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I just had a feeling a crawlspace would be lurking when I was told the house has 4,000 interior square feet and a full basement. There's not friggin way a 4,000 sq ft ranch around here has a full basement. A full basement in a house of this size (today's house) would be close to 40 yards long.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by neal lewis View Post
    Nick, I make it a point to tell clients on the phone that the price will not go up for extra crawlspaces or attics or if the inspection takes longer than expected. As a matter of fact, we tell people that we will discount the price at the end of the inspection if it goes a lot faster than expected. Doesn't happen too often, but they like to hear it.
    I don't think I'd ever do that Neal but to each their own. I've never tacked extra fees on in 7+ years but I will now make an exception for crawlspaces because they suck and my price quote would be different if the buyer had mentioned their presence in the first place. I know it isn't intentional and they just don't know the house has a crawl but even if you don't charge extra for them, at the very least it is nice to know what you're walking into.

    Sure, our clients don't like surprises. But it doesn't mean we have to like them.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Most home have crawlspaces in my area. If I get a basement or slab it is an easy inspection for me. So my prices presume a crawlspace. No discounts for slab or basement.

    The county tax records have pics of most houses online. I usually pull up the pic of the house so I kinda know what I am looking for on the drive over.

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    NICK
    my aggrement states--if there is a crawl space and hvac is in it and not in original quote-- $25 extra charge--or if there are two hvacs and one is in attic--extra for two hvac systems

    time and creepy crawl is extra

    just like a 30,000 mile care tune certificate stating $350--oh yeah you need a filter a brake alignment--thats extra

    we give enough away--and save our clients plenty

    cvf


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Building a crawlspace fee into the fee for all my inspections is nice in theory but will guarantee me getting less work. Unfortunately, many buyers around here will base their decision on which inspector to hire over $10-$20.

    I'd rather handle it case by case and set the expectation up front that an additional fee may apply if the house is not as described. Fairness goes both ways and is not just for the customer. I enjoy what I do but I'm not working for charity.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    ...(Bing gives a birds eye view that is kind of neat)...
    Yes! The Bing maps bird's eye view is great!

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Can Bing show crawlspaces?

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Can Bing show crawlspaces?
    Woodchuck's eye view, I guess.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I would think that that the best way to handle this would be when you speak to them on the phone and quote the price. Tell them that you are quoting the price based on what they are telling you. If they tell you that the home does not have a crawlspace, they need to know that the fee will increase by $X if you discover it does have a crawlspace.

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

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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    95%+ of the houses here are basement or crawl so if it gets called in w/o a basement, chances are it's a crawl. One annoyance is the person calls it in as a basement and it's a 200 sq ft basement in a 3000 sq ft house. It's as though it never occured to anyone there was more space beneath the house than the "phone booth" basement they were in

    I personally crawled a 2500sf wet, nasty crawl beneath a 4plex today, re-inspected a crawl after some repairs and ended my day with a 1940s 2000sf with a series of crawls (additions) with no vapor barrier and broken glass everywhere.... so, I'm particularly sensitive to the issue right now

    The concept of arriving to find different stuff than what was called is sucks for sure but I agree with Jim L that I hate to up a fee on-site. For the most part I just eat it and consider it a cost of doing business.

    Honestly, I'm just happy to be working these days considering the overall state of things.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I would think that that the best way to handle this would be when you speak to them on the phone and quote the price. Tell them that you are quoting the price based on what they are telling you. If they tell you that the home does not have a crawlspace, they need to know that the fee will increase by $X if you discover it does have a crawlspace.
    Scott.. That is a fair way of approaching the issue. When I have had trades come into my house, based upon my description to them on the phone, they may quote an "estimate" for the work to be done with a caveat---the actual cost may vary after they actually look at the job.

    I think this is a reasonable approach. I have paid the estimated price, higher than the estimated price, and have also paid less then the estimated price (all after inspection by the tradesman). But, if you start bouncing $25 additional for this and $50 for that, I would become disturbed. Sounds like an airline (and I HATE their fee BS).

    I think the key is estimate, not quote. If you say estimate and explain why, I would understand that the actual price (quote/price) may vary (up or down) upon review of the job. I also feel it should be a win-win situation, someone not trying to get something for nothing. However, this approach may vary with markets. But that is me in my ideal world, and and my 2 cents.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I would like all crawl spaces for my WDI reports because that's where most termite infestations are found. Having said that I will already have a cost of treatment with me before I get to the house. I look up the address in the county's geo data system. Most have pictures and a graph with measurements. Also I can determine if it is basement, crawl or slab by the permits and inspections done. If the county you are working in has a geo data system you should be able to determine everything you would need to know beforehand.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    The vast majority of homes around here have crawls, so I am only surprised when it is a slab.

    What gets me is the inspection of a detached cottage/granny or studio that they neglected to mention when they made the appointment. I charge the extra amount, but it means that I get home an hour or more later and have an extra building to write up. To me, it's not the money, it's working late. I am getting older and really feel exhausted after the long inspections.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Not a lot of crawl spaces here, I just do them as they come along.

    My question is what would you do if, you told the client that an extra charge will apply and they wont pay it. ASHI standards require that you insspect it weather or not you are getting extra money.


  20. #20
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    Smile Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Crawlspaces, crawlspaces
    such dark & dirty places,
    remember to wear PPE
    including on your faces

    I can't remember a time
    when I didn't see some
    crap, dirt or grime,
    when visiting this type of envir'n

    Crawlspaces, crawlspaces
    such dark & dirty places.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    The vast majority of homes around here have crawls, so I am only surprised when it is a slab.

    What gets me is the inspection of a detached cottage/granny or studio that they neglected to mention when they made the appointment. I charge the extra amount, but it means that I get home an hour or more later and have an extra building to write up. To me, it's not the money, it's working late. I am getting older and really feel exhausted after the long inspections.
    Along with Gunnar sub-area are the norm for us...

    We do find a few agent that always misrepresent the homes... They know what they are doing...Chumps


    But every time I have had this issue the up charge was not a problem.

    I had a termite inspection set up and another HI Was doing the home inspection. The agent said it was a 1600SQ Foot home... Not it was a Duplex... So I told the Buyer My fee just went from $ 250 to $ 450.00 he did not have a problem... But the home inspector just inspected for his original price...

    Best

    Ron


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mcdonald View Post
    Not a lot of crawl spaces here, I just do them as they come along.

    My question is what would you do if, you told the client that an extra charge will apply and they wont pay it. ASHI standards require that you insspect it weather or not you are getting extra money.
    I'd pack up my tools and leave. Especially if I asked them specifically when setting things up if the house had a crawlspace and told them a charge could apply if one is present. Inspection over. Contract ripped up. No report. Bye bye.

    ASHI, NAHI, CREIA, TREC, or whoever may say you are required to inspect a crawlspace. But it doesn't mean the client gets to hold your payment hostage to their whims.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    Along with Gunnar sub-area are the norm for us...

    We do find a few agent that always misrepresent the homes... They know what they are doing...Chumps


    But every time I have had this issue the up charge was not a problem.

    I had a termite inspection set up and another HI Was doing the home inspection. The agent said it was a 1600SQ Foot home... Not it was a Duplex... So I told the Buyer My fee just went from $ 250 to $ 450.00 he did not have a problem... But the home inspector just inspected for his original price...

    Best

    Ron
    You get $250 for a termite inspection? Around here the going rate is $65 to $75. That's a big difference! WOW!


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Tom,
    You are mis-informed about the ASHI Standards having anything to do with payments, or even if you decide to terminate the inspection halfway thru. Payment is not even covered in the ASHI Code of Ethics.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    You get $250 for a termite inspection? Around here the going rate is $65 to $75. That's a big difference! WOW!
    James, what Ron doesn't tell you though is with the traffic he can only get to one a month there.

    rick


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    OIC....now it makes sense!


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Tom,
    You are mis-informed about the ASHI Standards having anything to do with payments, or even if you decide to terminate the inspection halfway thru. Payment is not even covered in the ASHI Code of Ethics.
    Jack,

    I understand that ASHI standards have nothing to do with payment and that an inspection can be terminated. I was wondering if anyone would exclude a crawlspace from the report because the client did not want to pay extra money for it. That I beleive would be a violation of the standards.

    I dont charge extra for crawlspaces since I run into so few, I do however on occasion run into detached garages or workshops that I was not aware of. In most cases the client is willing to pay the extra money. But on occasion they wont or are not there to sign a new contract.

    At that time it becomes a business decision. Do I pack up my tools and walk away from $300-400 pissing off everyone or do I bite the bullet and just do it. I am already there I have already spent time on the report, travel time and gas money.

    I choose to spend the extra time, take my inspection fee, Smile and say Thank You for your business.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mcdonald View Post
    Jack,

    I understand that ASHI standards have nothing to do with payment and that an inspection can be terminated. I was wondering if anyone would exclude a crawlspace from the report because the client did not want to pay extra money for it. That I beleive would be a violation of the standards. ... snip
    Tom, I would state the client elected not to include the crawl space in the inspection and therefore the crawl space is not included in the report. I usually just eat them. I do see more new unvented crawl spaces with a conditioned air source that aren't too bad.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  29. #29
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    Unhappy Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    James, what Ron doesn't tell you though is with the traffic he can only get to one a month there.

    rick
    I would bet Rick your traffic is more of a mess then what Gunnar and I deal with... I almost never leave my home before 9:30 am and then I'm most of the time back in Healdsburg by 2: OR 3:00pm.. I know Gunnar likes to start his first inspection at around 8:00am but he lives in Santa Rosa... kind of like the hub of our area.

    But we do have a few hills to go over or around. Some one told me that Texas is so flat that on a clear day if you look in one direction you can see the back of your head... L.O.L.

    Best

    Ron


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Nick;

    With every (normal) booked inspection, I e-mail my agreements out prior to the inspection. With the agreements are what I call 'instructions'.

    It states the size of the house (in beds and baths) and say additional charges will be added if the house has more beds or baths, if there is an additional kitchen (I state mother/daughter), if the house is a two-family, or if it's over 3,000 sq ft. You can add the statement that the house was booked on the premise that there is no crawlspace and additional charges will be added if there is one.

    Because I do radon, it also tells my client to instruct the seller to close the windows.

    I also warn my clients about the perils of asbestos in crawlspaces; how I will not enter them if I suspect asbestos.

    Make something like this up and send it out with your agreements.

    Attached Files Attached Files
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Thanks Darren. This looks like something I can use.

    I understand some guys are just willing to suck it up when the inspection turns out to be more than described......and I've done that so far. But I'm done being the one on the short end of the stick. Just because somebody doesn't understand what is in the house they are buying doesn't mean they should get freebies.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I've had one particular group of buyers who always downplay the size of the house. I've had one guy state it was a single family house when in fact it was a two-family with an additional 'apartment' in the basement.

    That's why I came up with the instructions I uploaded. Now I always have in the agreements the number of bedrooms & bathrooms along with the type of structure ie Townhouse- Condo- Single family etc. If the buyer tells me up front the house is 3,800 sf, I include that in the agreements- Single family house app. 3,800 sf; I then just change the instructions from 3,000 to 4,000 sf.

    Have I gotten additional monies at the inspection, you betcha!

    I have also gotten return phone calls telling me 'oh yeah, there's an additional kitchen in the basement, is that gonna cost me extra?'

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Crawlspaces are common around here. I now choose to price all homes the same whether crawl or basement, but I was upcharging for crawls. It was a business decision because a fair number of clients and Realtors would question the upcharge for the crawlspace.

    I include the below in my inspection agreements which the client always gets at least the day before the inspection. I also have a slightly different version on my website's fee schedule page. Still amazes me how little Realtors know about their listings.

    Trebor Home Inspections reserves the right to adjust the fee, shown in this agreement, if the specifications stated when scheduling the inspection differ from those discovered on site at the time of the inspection.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I would have to re read the all of the home inspection rules, regulations and guidelines but I do believe that if the client says that they just want x inspected then x is all you have to inspect. I do not think it says in any SOPs from any org that if a client just wants an item or 2 or 3 inspected and that is all then that is all you have to inspect.

    You all may wish to check into that. I have folks call me all the time for just a roof or just an HVAC system or just the attic, foundation and HVAC system.

    I have inspected homes where the client says "don't bother with the rest. I am not going forward with this deal. There is way to much for me to even consider". So I stop, collect my money and be on my way. I have had a Realtor call me and demand that I finish the inspection and kindly told her that I have no obligation to her and the client called the inspection off. I was supposedly reported to TREC and I never heard a thing about it. I seriously doubt I was reported but I do believe nothing would have been done anyway.
    Don't inspect the crawl.....OK....sounds fine with me....disclaimer...collect money....by by.

    My answer to the question is I do tell them of an extra charge and do get it. If you ask someone the type of foundation on the phone (I always do) and they specifically tell you it is a slab and it turns out to be a crawl then they know up front that there WILL be an extra charge if it is a crawl then you will get it.

    The callers for an inspection get the whole run down as to what makes up the cost of the inspection.

    Where is the home
    How many square feet is the home
    What type of foundation is it
    What age is the home
    Lived in or vacant
    Are all the utilities on
    etc,etc,etc,

    Depending on anyone of those answers there will be some comment or other.


  35. #35
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Still amazes me how little Realtors know about their listings.
    Same here Robert. And the buyers too. Sometimes when we are setting up an inspection, they don't even know the address of the property. I'm done getting short changed over their lack of knowledge of the property.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Slabs are becoming more popular around here but the majority of homes are crawl spaces. Always priced for crawl and grin when it's a slab. Nobody is getting cheated because the price is told to them before the Inspection. I'm sure the Termite guys don't adjust there fees if it's slab instead of a crawl.
    It's a running joke here with most termite guys and inspectors, ribbing each other they will inspect the crawl for them so don't bother, when it's a slab

    Mike Schulz License 393
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  37. #37
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    A good business concept is repeated over and over in this thread.... giving discounts is a lot easier than upcharging. For example, we use to charge more for older houses. That didn't work out so well so now we give a discount for newer ones


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    I have an extra fee ($75) written into my brochure and contract for crawlspaces, and it isn't enough (mud, snakes, black widows, etc.). One way to find out if a house has a crawlspace is to look at the listing. I have a realtor in the house, but the buying agent should be happy to give you a copy. A lot of good information on the MLS form.


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Crawlspaces Gettin' On My Nerves

    Whenever I have a client that tells me not to inspect something, I have them initial on my contract where they have excluded whatever it is. I also make a note in the report that the Client elected to have so and so excluded.

    To exclude a part of the house because someone did not want to pay an additional $25 might be treading on thin ice, IMO.

    I have a friend that has this wacky price list when he schedules jobs.
    More than 2 HVAC unit? upcharge
    Crawlspace? upcharge
    More than 1 kitchen? upcharge
    It seems to work for him, but it would drive me crazy asking the questions, then telling my clients there was an upcharge for just about everything.

    I assume the house is the worst case and price accordingly. In my prices for large homes, I assume there are more HVAC units and bathrooms. ON really big houses, I ask if there are more than 1 kitchen or laundry, and will I do upcharge in my mind, I don't tell my clients. I just add it up and give them the total price.

    If I come out to the house and it is not even close to what they said (square footage or extreme age), then I tell them I have to adjust the price. That has only happened a few times in the past 20+ years.


  40. #40
    Robert Pike's Avatar
    Robert Pike Guest

    Default Re: Crawlspaces Getting' On My Nerves

    Here, the older homes normally have crawlspaces. Strangely, when I ask the client or agent if there is a crawlspace - some think I'm talking about attic spaces. So I have to explain -"do you have to step up a couple of steps to enter the home ? "- some know and some don't.
    I don't mind crawlspaces as long as the clients / agents know there is an additional fee. I explain that there are a lot of things that can be determined while crawling it.
    If they don't know for sure, I just tell them what the fee is with or with-out a crawlspace and they have no problem with that.
    The most under paid one was a newer 9000 + sf home, all on a crawlspace with 15 different bays which housed FSU's, sump pumps etc. It took two hours to crawl all areas.
    If its explained up front I never have a problem getting extra.


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