We were watching Botched the other night – a TV show about a couple of plastic surgeons who fix procedures that other people have messed up. Usually, those who botch the surgeries are not ethical, licensed plastic surgeons. Often, they’re not even doctors. Yet people allow them to perform invasive procedures on their bodies at the risk of disfigurement or even death.

In this episode, a patient’s gynecologist offered to give her a “discount” tummy tuck during an unrelated procedure. Unfortunately, she accepted – thus her presence on the show.

The Problem with “Discounts”

Professional, ethical service providers – whether they are doctors or home inspectors – set prices for their work based on their qualifications and fair market value. And while you should consider cost when comparing your options, hiring the cheapest provider isn’t always the best choice, especially when the quality of the services you need can have serious financial or health implications at a later date. While a service may be cheaper short-term, there is risk that, down the road, you will end up paying more than if you had hired a qualified service provider to do the work in the first place.

Think about it. Would you let an unqualified physician perform a medical procedure on you just because it was offered to you at a “discount”? Would you send your kids to a day care staffed by unqualified workers just to save a few bucks?

The Problem with Discounted Home Inspections

As a home buyer, you are contemplating one of the biggest financial investments you will make in your life. A home inspection usually costs significantly less than one percent of the value of this investment, yet it can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected costs. It can also help you avoid the stress that comes with fixing defects that weren’t uncovered during your inspection.

So don’t select a home inspector based on cost alone or a willingness to offer you a “discount.”

There are minimum qualifications your home inspector should have. Texas home inspectors all have to be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), indicating the inspector has the required education and experience and agrees to meet certain standards of practice and a code of ethics. His TREC license number should be clearly presented on his website and business documents.

A home inspector should go above and beyond TREC’s minimum inspection standards. He should also tell you what he won’t inspect. A trustworthy home inspector will be honest about what he can and can’t uncover and answer your questions about defects he may be unable to detect.

A “botched” home inspection can end up costing you substantially more than the $50 or $75 you may save by hiring the cheapest home inspection company or the one you persuaded to give you a discount. So when one offers you a “discount,” ask yourself why. Are they the best at what they do? Are they qualified to do the work? Will they take shortcuts because I’m paying less?

Most importantly, ask for references and use them. Ask the inspector’s former clients how thorough their inspection was and how easy the inspector was to work with. Ask them what defects, if any, were missed. And ask them what they paid for the service, keeping in mind that prices can change over time and will vary based on the size and characteristics of the property you’re having inspected.

Often, the adage “you get what you pay for” is very true.

Read more about how to select the best home inspector for you as you move forward with this significant investment.

Image Credit: E!