What will the inspection cover?
In Texas, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) regulates Home Inspections. TREC has established Standards of Practice that dictate what the minimum home inspection will cover. This inspection, called a Structural / Mechanical inspection, covers the structural component and the mechanical components that are found in the typical house. The Structural inspection will cover the building from the foundation to the top of the roof. The foundation, grading and drainage, walls, doors, windows, ceiling, attic space, roof and fireplace are all included in the inspection.
The Mechanical inspection will include the Electrical system, Heating / Ventilation / Air Conditioning systems (HVAC), Plumbing system and the appliance that typically remain with the house. Inspectors are not limited to inspecting only those items only. Professional Inspectors may also provide additional inspection services that could include EIFS, gas line, swimming pools/ spa sprinkler systems, septic systems, Wood Destroying Insect (WDI) and environmental inspections.
What should you look for in selecting an inspector?
Be sure your Home Inspector is licensed by TREC, has experience as a home inspector, and an extensive background in construction. Affiliation with professional organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) will help assure a Code of Ethics and a commitment towards continuing education in the profession. TREC has three levels of Home Inspector licensing. Inspectors start as Apprentices while learning the profession.
Once they have received part of their education, taken a test and demonstrated the ability to perform an inspection, they are then granted a Real Estate Inspector license. After receiving additional education, completing an additional 200 inspections and passing another test, the inspector then becomes a Professional Inspector. There is an alternate path to the Professional Inspector license that only requires classroom and home study education. There is no substitute for actual field experience performing home inspections. Make sure that your Home Inspector actually has some experience. You get the experience and knowledge that you pay for.
It should also be noted that using a ASHI Certified Inspector in the state of Texas requires a higher level of home inspection scope because the Standards of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) have additional items that must be included in the inspection process. The ASHI Experience Home Inspection is a big step up in the quality and scope of the Home Inspection in Texas. Always use an ASHI Certified Inspector for your inspection needs.
Are all Structural / Mechanical inspections the same?
No. There is considerable variation between Home Inspectors and inspections. TREC created the Standards of Practice for the inspection, but variations can still exist. The quality of the home inspection is dependant upon the knowledge, experience and time involved in the inspection. Home inspections are a service-based profession. The quality of the inspection service will vary between companies. Computerized reports, specialized equipment, useful handouts and availability of the inspector can all be factors in evaluating the quality of the service provided. Questions asked up front may minimize problems down the road.
How long will an inspection take?
A complete structural and mechanical inspection of an average 2000 square foot home on a slab foundation will usually take about 3 – 4 hours. Inspections of additional components such as pier and beam foundations, swimming pools, sprinkler systems may increase the time for the inspection. You should always try to be present for the inspection. Questions may arise about problems that are found. The inspector may have some special maintenance tips that they may need to pass on regarding your new home. The inspection report should be provided after the inspection to help speed the decision making process regarding the property.
How much will an inspection cost?
Inspection cost will vary on the home size, add-ons (such as swimming pools/spas, sprinklers, gas line inspections, etc.) and between inspectors. Experienced home Inspectors who hold a Professional Inspector license will always cost more than less experienced inspectors. Let the need for a quality inspection guide you in the selection of your home inspector. The cost of a home inspection is too often the deciding factor in selecting an inspector. When purchasing a $160,000 home, a $40-$50 difference in inspection pricing may preclude choosing the more experienced inspector. Many inspectors invest considerable time and money in continuing education, better report formats, equipment, and consumer handouts. This additional service may cost more but could easily provide more insight into the condition of your home. Ask questions and develop a relationship with your inspector, they can become a wealth of information as you evaluate your purchase.
On September 2007, a law went into effect that requires all Texas TREC home inspectors to carry $100,000 Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O) on the inspections that they perform. The E & O requirement comes into effect upon renewal of the Inspectors' TREC license. Always ask if your Home Inspector carries E & O insurance for your protection. A Closer Look Inspection Service carries $1,000,000 of E & O Insurance and has for over 12 years. If you get the cheapest Home Inspection you can find, it is a good bet that this inspector is only carrying minimal E&O insurance.
What is a Water Intrusion Inspection?
Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS) or Stucco is used on homes is usually applied over the wood structure of the house. It has become widely known that these systems leak moisture and can cause wood rot inside the walls of the home. An EIFS inspection uses special knowledge and equipment to measure the leakage and damage inside the walls. Never buy a stucco home without this specialized inspection.