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Q & A Do You Give Repair Estimates?

“Do you give repair estimates with your home inspections?”

Yes, that’s another frequently asked home inspection question. The short answer is no, but it depends. If we have a good idea of how much something costs, we’ll tell our client. That’s as far as we’ll go when it comes to giving repair estimates. The best way to get accurate repair estimates is to call professionals in related fields and get true estimates. Anything other than that is frequently called a WAG, but I know of a few other options for getting online cost estimates.

Quick and dirty online pricing resources

If you don’t care about exact pricing and just want to get some ballpark ideas for home repairs, I have a couple of suggestions for you.

Just type in the project and zip code, and you’ll get a range of prices back. If you want HomeAdvisor to find a repair professional for you, you fill out more information and then HomeAdvisor will sell your information to service providers in your area.

This is similar to HomeAdvisor’s cost estimator. You look up a project, and they’ll have a price range listed. Like HomeAdvisor, you can ask for someone to do the work for you, and Porch will sell your information to service providers who will then contact you.

How accurate is pricing from these services? Picture me sucking air through my teeth as I grimace and say “Better than nothing.” I looked up pricing for replacing a water heater, and HomeAdvisor said the average was $1,026, while Porch said the average was $1,597. Now you see why we don’t give estimates, right? That’s a huge difference! The plumbers that I regularly recommend quoted between $1,250 and $1,850.

Side note: 'Most service providers that I’ve talked to have strong opinions about HomeAdvisor and Porch. Home inspectors included. This blog post is not the place to share those opinions'.

Customized Repair Estimates

I recently ran across a company that will take a home inspection report and create a repair estimate for each item in the report. I asked them to take the sample report on our website and create a repair estimate from that report. They did, and I was actually quite impressed. They claim to be 98% accurate with their estimates.

The part that’s different from HomeAdvisor and Porch is that you need to pay for it; they don’t make money by selling your information to service providers. The cost is $59.99 for a 24-hour turnaround or a little more for a 4-hour turnaround. The company is called Repair Pricer.

Be warned, however, that using this service makes it easy to confuse a home inspection report with a repair list. If you assign a dollar value to everything in a home inspection report and then try using that to negotiate a better price on a home, be prepared to have some offended sellers. As I’ve said before, a home inspection report is not a repair list and shouldn’t be confused as such.

Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

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