Should a buyer shop around for a home inspector?
The home inspection is a crucial component of the home-buying process and should not be glossed over or taken lightly. No matter how emotionally invested you are or how sound you feel the home is, hiring the right inspector can prepare you for potential current and future issues with the home. These issues could affect both your finances and your safety.
Should I keep cost in mind?
Many buyers choose to shop around for the best priced home inspection and let that be their sole decision maker. This can be a fatal mistake. Most home inspectors in a given region only vary in price around $50 to $100. Would you risk your safety and potentially thousands of dollars in repairs on your hundreds of thousands of dollars investment over $50 to $100? That being said, I don't believe that the cost of a home inspection is indicative of quality. I know low quality inspection companies that are cheap, and some that are expensive. The same goes for high quality ones. Should you shop around? Absolutely. Just don't let price dictate your decision in any way. Thoroughness of your inspector is key.
How can I tell if an inspector is thorough or not?
One good indicator of thoroughness is how many pictures are typically included in a standard home inspection report. Ask the inspector for a copy of a sample report or if they have them on their website. Pay attention to the details of their findings on the major key components of a house such as the roof, foundation, heating/cooling, plumbing, and electrical. I believe most quality inspection reports should contain anywhere from 30 to upwards of 100 photos depending on the condition of the home. If the home is 100+ years old and there are less than 30 photos then I would maybe question the thoroughness of that inspector.