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Home inspection costs, fees, and pro bono inspections: how much should you pay for a pre-purchase building inspection? This brief article sums up Ruskin's views about getting one's money's worth when hiring someone to provide any service. There is the possible error of spending too much, which is easy to understand. The cost of spending too little is perhaps less obvious than one might first think. Our fee schedule diagnostic building inspections, environmental inspection and testing, and construction forensic lab or mold test laboratory services is available elsewhere at this website. We offer pro-bono services for elderly or disabled individuals, people of limited means, and for religious and certain other non-profit institutions.
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"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is unwise to pay too little.
When you pay too much, you lose a little money; that is all.
When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything.
Because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot.
It cannot be done.
If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better."
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about paying for a home inspection
Question: I can't afford to inspect the home we are about to buy. How about a free inspection?
I am looking to buy my first home in Queens, NY. I began looking in Poughkeepsie, NY where I grew up, but high gas prices do not bode well for a commuter so I am forced to find a house closer to where I work (Rikers Island).
I’ve finally found a home that I can afford in Cambria Heights, Queens – a 1935 brick cape, but it has a number of vertical and horizontal cracks in the brick, at the rear of the structure. I will need a 203K renovation loan for the other repairs but these cracks pose a serious concern as I have extremely limited funds for repairs. I have had people I know in the renovation business look at the house and they have recommended I obtain an engineer’s report – which I cannot afford. I need all my money for the down payment and closing.
I don’t know if you are planning to be in NYC anytime soon or if you do pro bono work, but I would really appreciate your looking at the house and giving me your opinion on the cause of the cracks and the possible remedies. - Thanks [Name withheld]
Reply: NEW HOME PURCHASE COST WARNING: can you really afford this house?
At BUILDING INSPECTORS DIRECTORY you might find an inspector who, recognizing your tight finances, will offer a reduced or pro-bono inspection, but your question makes one question the advisability of buying any home in the price range you cite. With all due respect, based even on your email above, in my opinion it is probable that you can not afford to buy the home that you are describing.
While many financial advisors agree that it can work well for a young family to "stretch" their finances when buying a first home, reasoning that incomes increase over time and house values often do too, those assumptions do not hold for everyone and certainly not in the case of "over-stretching" to buy a home.
A person simply cannot buy a home whose purchase costs alone place the buyer so close to the limit of their resources that they cannot afford a professional inspection.
Figure it this way: even a home in good condition is bound to require one or more costly repairs, changes, amendments in the first year of ownership by the new buyer.
And also consider that it is very very unlikely that the brick cracking you cite at this home is the only problem; it may not even be the most serious or most costly or most dangerous problem.
If you are so financially tight as to not even have a few hundred dollars in reserve to obtain an assessment of the condition of the property, you will certainly be unable to afford absolutely necessary repairs that come up. So what happens if in the first winter the boiler goes, or the roof leaks, or even a water heater fails? If the new owner cannot afford those repairs, the new purchase begins to deteriorate in condition and value, or the new owner has to go still deeper in debt just to try to hang on to the house - a losing battle.
These Three "Ds" Define the True Cost of Buying a Home
The true cost of a home is not just the purchase cost (house cost, lawyers fees, insurance fees, moving fees, etc.) but also those repairs that are absolutely needed to cover these three "D's":
Identifying those 3 D's is the essential object of a home inspection. If a buyer cannot afford the inspection, how in god's name is s/he going to afford to pay for the D's that come up?
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