RV inspectors – increasingly more RVers are realizing the value of these skilled RV experts when its time to buy an RV.
But there is still a lot of confusion about them as well.
What exactly do they do? How do you find them? How much do they charge? When should you hire them?
These are all great questions that need to be answered. The good news is that I am an NRVIA certified RV inspector and I will be happy to explain what you need to know.
RV Inspectors – What Do They Do?
Probably the best way to think of RV inspectors is to think of them as the equivalent of a home inspector.
In other words, buyers often hire the services of a home inspector before they buy a house. And that inspector goes through the house thoroughly and provides a detailed report about its condition.
Many people these days would not even consider purchasing a home without a thorough home inspection beforehand.
Well, an RV inspector does essentially the same thing, only with RVs.
Why RV Inspections Are Complicated
One advantage that home inspectors have is that their subject doesn’t have to move. It’s only for living in as a residence.
But RV inspectors have to be knowledgeable with more than just the living area of an RV. That’s because RVs are mobile and can travel long distances.
So this means that the inspector has to also be familiar with the mobile components of this traveling home as well. Because it is actually a blend of both a house and a vehicle.
In addition to that, it can often have multiple fuel and power sources. And some appliances can run on more than just one source of power.
For instance, a typical RV refrigerator usually needs 12 volt, 120 volt and LP gas lines to function correctly.
So clearly, RV inspections require experts with specialized training and experience.
What Does An RV inspection Cover?
First of all, it’s important to note that RV inspections do not involve repairing any problems that are found.
That is not the function of the inspector. Instead, the inspector focuses on testing and examining all components of the RV. And the goal is to determine whether they are in workable and acceptable condition or not.
To do this, the RV inspector will go over the RV from the roof all the way down to the tires. The inspection will include every major system on the RV.
These include roofing, plumbing, electrical, safety equipment, waste systems, appliances, and much more. It’s really a time-consuming and comprehensive endeavor!
If a problem is found, the inspector will note it and often take a picture of the issue. Then a brief recommendation about how to address the issue is provided.
And this brings us to the RV inspection report. Because that is what communicates the inspector’s findings to the prospective buyer.
The inspection report readability is absolutely critical for the RV buyer. Because it doesn’t matter how much the RV inspector knows about RVs, if that knowledge isn’t communicated clearly.
What To Expect From An RV Inspection
In addition to a written report that is comprehensive and understandable, the inspector should be available for questions afterward.
Most RV buyers aren’t familiar with all of the components of an RV rig. So naturally, they may not understand some of the report information.
That’s why a good inspector makes themselves available to help answer questions on the part of the prospective buyer. It’s best to save this question and answer session until after the inspection is finished though.
That way the RV inspector can focus on the job at hand while involved in the inspection process.
But here are a couple of insights about what questions an RV inspector can’t answer:
- Don’t expect the inspector to provide an estimate of the cost of repairs for issues found. RV inspectors are not necessarily RV repair technicians or service people. So any estimate they provide could often be inaccurate. But armed with the information in the report, an accurate repair estimate can be ascertained. Just a few phone calls to local RV repair facilities is usually all that’s needed.
- The other question RV inspectors won’t answer is “Would you buy this RV?” Of course, that is what many prospective RV buyers want to know. But the answer to that question is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what the inspector would decide about the buying decision. What matters is whether the prospective buyer feels the RV is still worth buying after learning its true condition. So please don’t try to shift the buying decision to the RV inspector.
Qualified RV inspectors – How Do You Find Them?
The best way to find a truly qualified RV inspector is to visit NRVIA.org online. The NRVIA is an organization that trains and certifies RV inspectors.
Once an inspector passes their certification process, they can be recommended by the NRVIA for use by the public.
Then the NRVIA tracks the locations of their certified inspectors nationwide. Then all prospective buyers have to do is visit the organization’s website to find a local available inspector.
To find an inspector, just click on the link at the top of the page entitled “Locate An Inspector”. On the following page, enter your location and a list of local certified inspectors will be provided.
From there, just contact them and inquire about their availability for the RV inspection. Some may not be available when you inquire. So just expand your search further outward from your location to find one that is available.
In some cases, an RV inspector may not be found easily though. If that is the case, just email the NRVIA or call them at the contact information they provide on their website.
If you explain that you have done all you can to find an inspector, they often can still help further. To do this, they put out a notice to all inspectors in their network for help.
Many RV inspectors are willing to travel since they are RVers too. So they may be willing to come to your location to help out.
What Does An RV Inspection Cost?
I get a lot of questions about how much an RV inspection costs. The answer is that it depends on what the RV inspector chooses to charge for the inspection.
RV inspectors are allowed by the NRVIA to set their own fees and charges. So you may find a fairly wide disparity in what each one charges for an RV inspection.
And there can be quite a bit of difference in how labor and time intensive inspecting different types of RVs can be. For instance, a small travel trailer will not take nearly as much effort to inspect as a 40+ foot diesel pusher motorhome.
Having said all of that, let me provide some general expectations for RV inspection costs.
Larger RVs like big fifth wheels and larger motorhomes can cost on average between $600 – $900 in most cases. Smaller RVs like travel trailers and shorter motorhomes are often less.
You may find an inspector that charges more than the range mentioned above. But you may also find someone who charges less as well.
But there is an important point to keep in mind here. And that is that whatever an RV inspector charges, within reason, will usually save you money in the long run.
That’s because an RV inspection provides a true picture of the condition of the RV you may be considering. And in many cases, the inspection will reveal issues that you would never have known about otherwise.
And very often, the issues found during an RV inspection will give the buyer bargaining power with the seller. So if a repair is found to be needed, you can either ask the seller to handle it or negotiate for a lower price.
Either way, a quality RV inspection often saves the buyer money in the overall deal.
When Should You Hire An RV Inspector?
Clearly then, hiring an RV inspector before you buy an RV is a great idea. But I don’t recommend having them inspect every RV that you may be considering.
If you do, there may be several inspections that are performed before you find the one that is worth buying. And that could get very expensive.
So you only want to hire an RV inspector on the rigs that you are really convinced could be a good candidate for purchase.
Toward that end I recommend that the buyer learns enough about RVs to be able to perform a personal inspection first. This personal inspection isn’t really technical or difficult.
But if you know what to look for, you can spot many serious issues without having an advanced knowledge of RV components.
I explain the whole process of how to perform a personal inspection before the RV inspector is hired in my new ebook. It’s entitled “How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit”.
The ebook explains how to find a quality RV, how to personally inspect the ones you like, and how to hire the RV inspector.
There’s really nothing that I know of available online that compares with the information in the ebook. And I also make myself personally available to help you with any questions you may have.
And if you aren’t sure about any part of the personal inspection process, I’ll be happy to help.
RV Inspectors And Inspections
I hope that you can now appreciate the value of having a quality inspection before your next RV purchase.
If you get a certified RV inspector to do a thorough job on the prospective RV, it can be helpful in many ways.
Fisrt of all, if there are plenty of hidden problems with the RV, the inspection may help prevent you from buying an RV money pit.
Some RVers have spent many thousands of dollars on repairing problems with uninspected RVs they bought. But a thorough RV inspection helps prevent being surprised by hidden problems after the purchase.
And if issues are found during the inspection, it gives you more bargaining power before the purchase.
Finally, when you buy an RV that has been inspected and found to be worthy of purchase, it puts your mind at ease. You can now have more confidence that the purchase you are making is a good one.
So before you buy your next RV, get it inspected by an NRVIA certified RV inspector. You’ll be glad you did!