Why does inspecting an older house cost more?
Yes, it’s true. Most inspectors charge more to inspect an older home. But why? It’s a fair question; I’ll answer in two parts.
First, it takes longer and a licensed home inspector is a consultant. Consultants sell services based on the time required to deliver them.
Maybe you want to know more. Fear not and read on! As a general rule of thumb, the older the house, the more likely there are to be more things going on. Just like with cars. A brand new car on the showroom floor probably won’t have much wrong with it. Similarly, a brand new home won’t have as many things wrong with it. A house is not like a car though and it’s common for even new homes to have things wrong that the un-trained person wouldn’t catch. Houses fall into four groups in my view.
New and young homes is first. These are homes less than 10 years old. Generally they are in good condition, have been built with modern building practices and are unlikely to have been remodeled or modified to suit the family living in them. As a result, they don’t take as long to inspect, the report is relatively straight forward, and there aren’t as many questions from the client. Questions are a good thing, but they take time to answer.
The next group is 11 to 25 years old. These are the typical used homes. There is almost always more going on. Maybe the roof was replaced, was it done right? The windows might not be as good as what we use today, but they are probably still pretty good. The water heater will be getting to the end of it’s useful life if it hasn’t been replaced already. It’s still important to carefully inspect it to make sure things are working properly. The HVAC system should still be fine, but by now the ravages of Texas attic conditions will be taking their toll on the duct work. Not the end of the World, but I like to spend extra time with my thermal camera looking at the ducts for hidden leaks from where the plastic has split or the clamps have come loose. The electrical should be up to modern standards, but by 20 years it’s pretty common to have added a workshop/garage circuit or maybe a hot tub. Were they installed correctly and safely? I inspect every item carefully, but these items need an extra look to make sure they are properly done and safe.
The third group is the “mature homes” group. These are 26 to 50 years old. I love these homes, but typically they’ve been loved a few times by the time I get to inspect one. They’ve usually been “updated” at least once, sometimes by a professional, sometimes by the homeowner. The tail end of this timeline might have solid strand aluminum wiring, which needs alot of extra attention to make sure it’s safe. It’s not a bad product you see, but we learned alot from it and we don’t do things that way anymore. If it’s there there is alot more to inspect looking for dangerous conditions. If the pipes are galvanized they need to be scrutinized closely because they are nearing the end of their life. Chimneys and vents for gas furnaces may also be showing signs of age, so they deserve an extra close check for rust and loose connections. There is almost always DIY work on these homes as well. They can still be the perfect home to raise a family in, but the inspections definitely take longer to do, and I like to take my time explaining what I’ve found and making sure your questions get answered.
Lastly, there are the “experienced” houses. I have a special place in my heart for these homes. I’ve owned two, including the one I live in now. They are often terrific homes with great bones. They’ve usually had more than one remodel, update or addition. There can be tons of stuff lurking that needs to be checked once it’s found. Insulation may be of multiple types, there could be old knob and tube wiring hiding in the attic. The water pipes are certainly at the end of their rated lifespan, so we need to look carefully for leaks and signs of corrosion that will become leaks. It still can be the right home for you, but I believe you should know what you are buying. That includes looking for and finding what’s going on with the home and it’s systems. The plumbing may have older installation methods that aren’t approved anymore because we’ve learned that they cause problems. Drum traps are one example.
Collectively, these things take more time to inspect, write up in the report, and explain to the client. As a result there is an increased cost to inspect an older home.
Feel free to reach out to the office and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or concerns you have.