How much is THAT gonna cost??

By Jamie Dunsing- Professional Inspector since 1989

Have you ever wondered what’s the most common question home inspectors get?  Without fail, our clients want to know, “How much will that cost?”

It’s a fair question. Sometimes inspectors are comfortable providing ballpark cost estimates for simple repairs. For instance, replacing an electric outlet, or re-setting a loose toilet are common problems that we find and usually the repair costs are fairly easy to estimate.

But what about more complicated items like…

  • upgrading an electric service & replacing the electric panel?
  • a sewer replacement?
  • roof replacement?
  • structural repair?

All of these can have hidden conditions that may cause costs to rise dramatically.

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For instance, electric service upgrade may require re-wiring of a part (or even the entire) home. It may also require running the new wiring underground rather than overhead. This can cause costs to increase quickly.

Sewer replacement depends largely on access to the sewer for excavation, as well as the depth of the sewer. Does the entire sewer lateral need replacement, or just a section? Can it be lined, or does it need to be dug up?

If the roof needs replacement, will the roof structure need to be “beefed up”? What is the cost of materials? (Did you know, standard asphalt shingles have risen by over 20% in the past 2 years???) How steep is the roof? How many layers of shingles need to be removed? These all factor into the cost of roof replacement.

Home Inspectors are NOT contractors


State standards (and most widely accepted standards) for home inspections do not prohibit providing cost estimates. Nor do they prohibit inspectors from giving advice about methods to repair, provided the inspector is qualified to do so.

That said, home inspectors are not contractors and contractors are not home inspectors. These are two very different professions.

As such, our advice is that home inspectors do not provide cost estimates. Similar to our blog from 2021 “Stay in Your Lane, Bro!” that discusses code inspections, we feel that providing cost estimates falls into the same area.

Wouldn’t you rather have a person or service that specializes in this type of work provide your cost estimates rather than a home inspector who is unfamiliar with the specifics of the repair procedure?

Moreover, some insurance companies prohibit inspectors from including cost estimates in their reports.

There are online services where you can upload your inspection report and they will provide you with repair cost estimates unique to your geographic area. Check out these sites: majordomo, repair pricer, and porch. These services can give you a lot of insight that can help all parties make an educated purchase decision.

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Advice for homeowners contemplating repairs or remodeling

In the end, we feel that it is best to get a qualified, local contractor. Even more important, they should visit the property, if possible. In any case, you should anticipate the possibility that unforeseen circumstances can increase repair costs.

Repairs and remodeling can often run into unforeseen circumstances. Good contractors and savvy homeowners should anticipate this. It is always wise to include a “contingency clause” in case the contractor runs into one of these unforeseen items.

Sometimes estimating repairs costs requires a crystal ball. Do you know somebody who has a crystal ball?

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