FAQ - Home Inspections

What is a Home Inspection? 
A home inspection is an impartial third-party visual evaluation of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof top down to the foundation.  The standard home inspection report will include an evaluation of the condition of the home’s foundation, grading and drainage, roof and chimney, interior and exterior walls, ceilings and floors, plumbing system, heating and cooling systems, electrical system, attic and crawl spaces, appliances, windows and doors, fireplace and much more.  Having a home inspected is like giving it a physical check-up.  If problems or symptoms are found, the inspector will refer you to an appropriate specialist or trades person for further evaluation.
Why do I need a home inspection?
The purchase of a home is possibly one of the largest single investments you will ever make.  You should learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before you buy, so that you can minimize unpleasant surprises and difficulties afterwards.  Of course, a home inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape.  After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and will be able to make a confident buying decision.
If you have owned your home for a some time, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and recommend preventive measures which might avoid costly future repairs.  In addition, home sellers may elect to have an inspection prior to placing their home on the market to gain a better understanding of conditions which the buyer’s inspector will more than likely point out.  This provides an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
Why choose to have a Professional Home Inspection? 
We cannot emphasize enough the value and necessity of a professional home inspection.  Many home buyers, either in the desire to save the $300 to $500 that a good inspection costs, or due to simple ignorance, have spent enormous sums of money repairing items that any good home inspector would have pointed out.
Any offer to purchase you make should be contingent upon a professional home inspection with a satisfactory report.  Do not let anyone, not your family or friends, and especially not the seller or a builder dissuade you from having the property thoroughly inspected!  Not only will you sleep much better after you have moved into the home, a professional inspection can give you the ability to opt out of a contract on a defective house.  If the contract is written contingent on an acceptable inspection, any defects in the home must be either repaired or monetarily compensated for.  If you are not satisfied, you have the option to cancel the contract.
Do not wait until you have placed an offer on a home before you begin the search for a home inspector.  There will be an option time limit in the contract designating when the home inspection must be completed (typically within 7 to 10 days).  If you start trying to find an inspector at that point, and may not find an acceptable one to schedule it in the necessary time frame, you will only have two choices: go with an inspector that is not your first ideal choice, or run the risk of going past the deadline for the inspection (which could void any chance of having the seller take care of repairs).  Neither is an acceptable alternative!
What should I NOT expect from a home inspection? 
A home inspection is NOT protection against future failures.  A home inspection tells you the condition of systems and components at the time they were inspected.  For protection from future failure you may want to consider a home warranty.
A home inspection is NOT an appraisal that determines the value of a home or any systems or components.  Nor will a home inspector tell you if you should buy the home or what to pay for the home.
A home inspection is NOT a “code” inspection, which verifies local building code compliance. 
While a basic knowledge of building codes is essential to performing a good inspection, a home inspector can not pass or fail a house.  Homes built before code revisions are not obligated to comply with the code for homes built today.  Home inspectors will report findings when it comes to safety concerns that may be required in the current code, such as smoke detectors inside all bedrooms.
Should I have a NEW home inspected?
Absolutely, it is very important.  Many people feel that the municipality inspections or a walk-through with the builder is an adequate way to inspect a new home.  When in fact, not all municipalities in Texas require new construction inspections, and when they do, the municipal inspectors spend about 15 minutes or less going through the home at any given time.  As well, they are only looking for a few specific items or issues.  A licensed professional home inspector will spend an average of 2 to 4 hours depending on the size of the home, and will be looking at very specific items from top to bottom according to the TREC Standards.  Builders and Superintendents also may be reluctant to find problems with the homes that they build simply because they are built very quickly and they can only be in so many places at one time.  They are heavily dependent on their subcontractors, who are always in a hurry to finish so they can move on to the next job.
How do I find a home inspector? 
The best source to find a good reputable home inspector is from a friend, family member, or a business associate, who has been satisfied with, and can recommend, a home inspector they have used.  Real Estate agents are also generally familiar with the inspection service, and should be able to provide you with a list of recommended names from which to choose.   By all means make sure that they are licensed by the State.
When do I call in the home inspector? 
A home inspector is typically called right after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed, and is often available within a few days.  However, before you sign, be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection.  This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
Do I have to be present during the inspection?
No, it is not necessary for you to be present during the actual inspection, but it is recommended that you plan to be there at the end so that the inspector can go over the findings directly with you.  This allows the inspector one-on-one time with the home so that he can focus on his job and not have any distractions that may keep him from providing his best efforts.
How long does the home inspection take?
A typical or general home inspection can take from 2 to 4 hours depending on the size and age of the home, with the average being about 3 hours.  Every home is different and the inspector can not usually tell until he arrives at the home and actually gets started.
What will it cost? 
The home inspection fee for any given home varies.  The inspection fee will depend upon the size of the home, particular features, age, and possible additional services, such as swimming pools, spas, sprinkler systems, wells, septic systems and other structures.
However, do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection, or in the selection of your home inspector.  The knowledge gained from a home inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest priced home inspector is not necessarily a bargain.  The inspector’s qualifications, including his experience, training, and professional affiliations, should be the most important consideration.
Who pays for the home inspection?
Generally, the person who is requesting to have the home inspection performed will pay under most conditions. (This is typically the buyer).  I accept cash, personal checks and credit cards.
Can a house fail inspection? 
No.  A professional home inspection is a visual examination of the current condition of your prospective home.  It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipality inspection, which verities local code compliance.  A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe in detail its physical condition and indicate what may need repair or replacement.
What if the report reveals problems? 
There is no perfect house.  If the home inspector finds problems or issues, it does not necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect.  A seller may be flexible with the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are found.  If your budget is very tight, or if you do not wish to become involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely important to you.
What do the cracks in the walls mean?
That depends on the type of cracks and the width of the cracks.  Minor cracking in the brick mortar and sheetrock is usually typical and caused by the movement of the home due to the soil.  However, cracks might also mean that foundation repairs are needed.  It is always a good idea to have any cracking examined by a professional.
What is your license level and credentials?
There are three license levels issued by the State of Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC):
- Apprentice Inspector - requires “direct” supervision by a Professional Real Estate Inspector 
- Real Estate Inspector - requires “indirect” supervision by a Professional Real Estate Inspector 
- Professional Real Estate Inspector - highest license level issued by TREC
I hold a Professional Real Estate Inspector license.  In order to be licensed as a professional real estate inspector one must complete 448 hours of course work covering all disciplines including structural (building enclosures, foundations, framing, and roof systems), mechanical (heating and air conditioning), electrical, plumbing, appliances, as well as the TREC standards of practice (including legal and ethics).  As well, he must complete an additional 16 hours of continuing education each year.