Detached Structures

Most home buyers aren’t aware of the fact that the Standards of Practice for home inspectors, which dictate the minimum requirements for what we inspect, do not require the inspection of detached structures, or “outbuildings.” In other words, if the house you are looking to buy has a detached garage, shed, barn, or other outbuilding, chances are your home inspector will not be inspecting it as part of your general home inspection.

Because of this, nearly all home inspectors charge an extra fee for all detached structures. After all, any additional inspecting means additional liability, and the reward should ideally equal or outweigh the potential cost.

Well, just today I had the pleasure of inspecting a property that had two large outbuildings, and I did so completely free of charge. I say I had the “pleasure” because this particular property was previously a saddle shop and the outbuildings were very unique and interesting. In fact, they were downright fun to inspect! I came across an electric boiler in one outbuilding (something I never see), and the other outbuilding contained a furnace that was fueled by a portable gas/oil caddy as opposed to a permanent, in-place tank. The list goes on, but sufficed to say that it was a nice change of pace when I’m used to mostly the “same ol’ same ol’.”

Now, I never charge extra for inspecting detached garages. I figure it isn’t the buyer’s fault that the garage happens to be detached rather than attached; and in reality it is actually easier in many ways to inspect detached garages because there are several rather strict requirements in place for attached garages since they are connected to living space and carry with them several additional requirements. I do, however, normally charge for other detached structures.

My inspection today was so interesting that I didn’t even mind not charging extra for not one, but two, large detached structures. I didn’t realize how substantial each detached structure was prior to inspecting them, but I really didn’t mind the extra work once I arrived and began my process. Yet, after returning home and beginning to write the inspection report, I quickly realized that I was essentially writing three reports in one because each building was essentially a full scale home, equipped with plumbing, electric, heating, attic space, etc.

So there are good reasons for home inspectors charging extra for detached structures. It’s more work and more liability, and those facts essentially demand more compensation. Fortunately for my clients, I do not charge for detached garages, and in cases like today where I wasn’t aware of the size and scope of the detached structures beforehand, the client benefits from an accidental “freebie.” I have to admit, though – despite the fact that I would normally have charged a little extra for outbuildings of this scale, I don’t mind occasionally cutting my losses when the inspection is so unique and interesting. I’m happy to be in a line of work that I greatly enjoy, having the opportunity to see rare features in properties and meet interesting people at every inspection.

If you’re searching for a home inspector, find out if he or she charges for detached structures. But beyond that, dig a little deeper to see if they have a true passion for what they do and if they appreciate the many rewards of our line of work in addition to compensation alone.

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Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, the top-rated inspection company in the greater Johnstown, PA area, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I’m also the owner of Hill Pest Control, LLC and a pest management professional committed to helping our clients rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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