Do You Give Estimates?

Home Inspector with Fort Worth Home Inspectors - Green Tag Inspections

Client: So you say the air conditioning won't turn on. How much will it cost to fix?

Me: I don't know

Client: The shower has very low water flow? How much will it cost to repair that?

Me: I don't know

Client: I noticed that the old wooden windows are in poor condition and most won't open. How much will it cost to upgrade the windows?

Me: I don't know

Client: Why did I hire you?

Me: To inspect the house ma'am


Of all the hundreds of houses I have inspected, I have had clients ask me many times about repair costs and they are understanding when I tell them that I do not give estimates. But today I had a client that thought I was pretty useless because I refused to give her repair costs of some of the defects. In a professional and calm manner, I tried to make her understand that since I don't troubleshoot defective items, and not knowing exactly what is wrong, I would not have any idea what it would cost to repair and I don't keep up with contractor labor rates and material costs. Besides, I would never want to get that phone call from a mad client that got the estimate from the contractor after I gave them a much lower number.

Do any of you give repair estimates to your clients? I keep thinking I have heard of some states that want inspectors to give repair estimate costs.

Kent Keith

Fort Worth / Dallas Home Inspector


Comments (10)

Frank Torre
Torre Inspection Service, LLC 888-202-8869 - Hicksville, NY

Hi Keith, I email my clients 2 Useful web sites for estimating repair if they  want. I always say it can be 20-40% more depending on the contractor. I hope this help you out.

Nov 18, 2008 02:22 PM
Kent Keith
Fort Worth Home Inspectors - Green Tag Inspections - Fort Worth, TX
Home Inspector Fort Worth TX-

Thanks Frank....I'll put these on my website as well.


Fort Worth Home Inspector


Nov 18, 2008 02:33 PM
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

I don't give any cost estimates to clients for residential inspections.  I do the same as Frank, but with investors I produce estimates from the means data base when I do an investors survey.  Potential profit from an investment is what they're interested in. Most could care less what really has to be done, only whether it is profitable or not.


Nov 18, 2008 04:13 PM
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

I do give "Cost estimate ranges" on most major items of significance when asked. I use some cost estimating software that is updated every month for cost changes and specific geographic locations.

I then total up all of the minimums to get a minimum cost expectancy for all repairs. And of course there is the disclaimer that states that this is provided as a service only to be used as a guideline, and is no substitute for getting your own actual estimates.

It is a "value added" service that people appreciate, and it gets me quite a bit of extra business. I have also always been involved in rehabbing houses, so it's pretty easy for me to stay current with contractor pricing. I always qoute the going rates that a qualified contractor in the field would charge... never homeowner or non-professional repairs.

Nov 18, 2008 07:31 PM
Joshua Frederick
Home Inspector for ASPEC Residential Services, LLC - Defiance, OH
Home Inspector in Defiance & all of Northwest Ohio

If I have a "ballpark" figure, that I'm confident about, I'll let them know. Most of the time I tell them that information is clearly written out in the report they'll be receiving in less than 24 hrs. It blows my mind sometimes on what clients expect out of a home inspector.  I feel as if I should have a big S on my chest sometimes. 

Nov 18, 2008 08:51 PM
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

I will only give ball park estimates on some items. Otherwise I tell them I have no way of knowing what is specifically involved in the repair. That can only be determined by the person who will be doing the work and of course the estimate.

Nov 18, 2008 11:02 PM
Bruce Thomas
A-Z Tech Home Inspections, Inc. - Greensburg, PA

Here is what bothers me about giving estimates.  You are quoting a fix for the widget and they want a new one.  The formica counter top is damaged they want to replace it with granite.  Without a full written estimate with specific materials etc. it just leads to confusion. 

The web sites are a good idea.

Nov 19, 2008 03:05 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN

I do not give estimates for repairs.  Why?  I am a home inspector not a repair contractor!  It is not may job to give an estimate, in fact it might even be against the law in your state if you are not a licensed contractor.

I put this in the same category as a home inspector who designs the repair for an item.  It is not our job to tell whoever how a repair must be made.  This can get an inspector into trouble.  If you design a repair and that design is wrong, guess who will be called.  Same goes for providing a specific diagnoses of a problem in a complex system, such as an HVAC system.  Simply state that the _____ is not working properly and that it needs to be repaired.  Then let the qualified professional diagnose the problem and make the proper repair.


Nov 21, 2008 01:19 AM
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN

Like Scott, I don't give cost estimates either. I see no upside for doing so, and can really only see the down side. 

It's one thing to tell someone what something might cost, such as a water heater. However, earlier this year, I found out that there is a fairly good size range even within 50 gallon gas water heaters. I also found out that I was not up to date on what the cost range was, since I had not had to purchase one for a dozen years. I was off by about $200. With the water heater example, I could tell my client that the water heater might be between $300 and $800, and the installation might be between $100 - 400. 

However, to try to give someone an estimate for fixing rotted wood trim on seven windows, 3 doors, some fascia and around the chimney, could prove daunting. Since I am not in the repair business, I could only guess, and that kind is like winking at a blind man - really not much use, especially if I am not the one that is willing to do the repair for the price estimate I am giving.

There are those that say they are giving estimates because they want to give the best service for their clients. I AM giving my clients the best service by doing an excellent inspection, and giving them excellent advice to get a qualified person to give them the estimates - someone that can and will acrually do the work.

I vote NO on giving estimates. NOT MY JOB!

Nov 21, 2008 01:29 PM
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate

I would not want an inspector giving estimates either.  It sounds like it could get you guys in a lot of trouble.

Nov 23, 2008 08:58 AM