One of the most difficult aspects of the home inspection business is to provide post-report consultation or advice to clients. The scope of work limits the inspection to problem identification, consequences and recommendations.
Let's use an example. Recently a client called back to discuss what to do about a 20 year hot tub heater not working. The inspection identified that the heater was not operational. Here's my thinking process.
(1) If you are handy, then try to fix it yourself. Your time does not count and you can certainly spend as much time as you want on the issue. This is always my first choice.
(2) If you are not technically inclined, then call in a service tech to give you an estimate. Expect to spend $150 for the call-out.
(3) If the repair is clear, then the technician will provide you with a price to complete. Now you can make a "spend - don't spend" decision.
(4) If the technician needs further troubleshooting time, then stop right there. This is where you have to consider outright replacement in-kind rather than repair of the failed components.
The great tragedy of modern consummerism is that we have allowed disposable technology to be all-pervasive in our everyday lives. In my opinion, the concept of disposable technology should be legislated out of existence.
So back to the spa water heater. Repair or replace? My rule of thumb is if a system is older than 15 years and new is under $1000 then replacement is the way to go. In this case, the equipment was 20 years old and a new combination motor-pump-heater-controller can be purchased for $700 so for me it's a slam-dunk for replacement over repair.