By following these simple steps, you can help to ensure that you are making the right choice when selecting a Home Inspector.
When it is time for you to start looking for a home inspector, where can you find a list of qualified companies from which to choose? You might want to ask your Realtor, Banker, or Attorney for a list of names. Otherwise, you can look in the Yellow Pages under Home and Building Inspections, ask friends or co-workers, search the internet, or check out the directories of top national organizations such as NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) or HAREI (Houston Association of Real Estate Inspectors) for a list of Home Inspectors in your area.
After you have a list of names from which to choose, grab a pen and paper and start making some phone calls. Once your offer has been accepted from the Seller you should call a home inspector almost immediately to set up an appointment for him to come out to the home for inspection. Remember, you will be in an Option Period for a specified number of days. Typically, an Option Period is for a 10 day period unless negotiated otherwise and agreed upon between buyer and seller.
Don’t be afraid to ask the “tough” questions. A legitimate Home Inspection Company will appreciate that you are being careful when making your choices, while a marginal one may become defensive.
Always, ask about the home inspector about licensing, professional affiliations and credentials, and whether or not the home inspector carries errors and omissions insurance.
Remember, not all inspectors and their qualifications are created equal!
Choose An Inspector With Top Qualifications
Buying a home will likely be the largest investment you will ever make. Consequently, it is very important to choose wisely when selecting your Home Inspector. Direct, “hands-on” experience in building is one of the most important criteria to look for. For instance, a house cannot be dismantled during an inspection, so it is important to have someone with the experience and background who doesn’t have to disassemble a wall to know what’s inside and how it’s put together.
A house is made of many different components and systems that are all inter-related and are all supposed to work together. Many of these are hidden from view, and cannot be directly viewed. It is important to choose an inspector who has experience in home-building, from the ground up, and has been involved in the installation and layout of these systems.
It takes many years of experience and training to develop the necessary skills and insight needed to be a good Home Inspector.
Experience, Experience, Experience
Check into how long the Inspector has been in the business, and how many Home Inspections he has performed. There is no equivalent to experience! Do you really want someone inspecting your house who is doing this “part-time”, or has only been performing inspections for a year or two?
HUD says most home inspectors should be able to tell you their history in the business to show how experienced they are. HUD notes that it’s important that they be specially trained in looking over residential properties. This does not mean that newly licensed inspectors are not capable, there are many capable newly licensed inspectors.
- What will this inspection actually cover?
Before the inspection gets underway, HUD recommends it’s important to go over exactly what will and will not be covered in the inspection. If you have any specific questions or items you want the inspector to check, mentioning this to them in advance is helpful.
Be Sure To Obtain A Written Report
Be sure that your Home Inspector provides a detailed written report, not a hand written checklist with stock responses that is given to you at the end of the inspection. A informal checklist can be difficult to read and to interpret and may lack of the much of the needed details and advice you need. A step up from this is a computer-generated report, which offers a combination of the checklist and a narrative reporting formats, and which includes specific comments and photos to each home deficiency. The home inspection should be specific to that particular home.
An Inspection Report should encompass three basic areas:
- Overview – A detailed picture of the house on the day of the inspection, itemizing all the major components and their condition.
- Maintenance Items – A listing of items in need of normal maintenance or attention. This list will allow you to be pro-active in your approach to home maintenance, and hopefully, minimize your risk of being blind-sided by an unexpected expense you could have been saving for, if you had known about it.
- Major Repair Items – This is any defect with the potential to present a significant expense to you, in the near term. These items should be clearly identified, with estimated repair/replacement costs (if possible).
The Inspection and Report should give you the information that you, as the buyer, need to make an informed decision about your new purchase.
For more info on what you should expect during a Home Inspection, see What is a Home Inspection?
Professional Affiliations & Certifications Be sure that the Inspector you retain has professional affiliations and certifications through nationally recognized organizations such as NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists), etc. This information will help to give you insight into the background, and depth of industry involvement of the Inspector you plan to hire.
What Type Of Equipment Will Be Used?
Many Home Inspectors bring nothing more to the Inspection than a flashlight. Today’s Home Inspector though, should be taking advantage of some of the newer technologies being introduced, and fully utilizing the best testing equipment available. This equipment is delicate and can be very expensive, but in order to stay on “the cutting edge” and provide the best service possible, it is a necessary investment. Proper equipment should range from the more sophisticated testing devices (electrical circuit analyzers, electronic carbon monoxide & fuel gas analyzers, digital moisture meters, digital cameras to document findings, etc.), all the way down to the more mundane but necessary equipment, such as ladders, flashlights, levels, etc.
- Can the home buyer be present? Being present during a home inspection can be a valuable experience as the inspector may be able to give answers to any simple maintenance questions you may have. If the inspector says you cannot be present, it should raise a red flag about his or her qualifications.
Schedule & Price of A Home Inspection
Cheap vs. Experience Is Important
It is important to ask yourself this question… “Do you really want to go bargain hunting for the Inspector who will do the job for the least amount of money?” -or- “Is it important to hire the most qualified?” Of course one should always try to be budget conscious, but when hiring a Home Inspector, you should always search for the most qualified and most experienced person you can find. Consider this, when your are choosing a home inspector you are essentially selecting the professional that will be giving an overall check-up to one of your largest investments. This is not the time to cut corners.
What is a $25 or $50 difference in price compared to your potential exposure for an oversight due the inexperience of your “low budget Home Inspector? The price of a home inspection will vary based on the size and age of the home, as well as any additional inspection items such as a pool, sprinkler system, under-ground plumbing, termites, water well and septic systems. On average a home inspection cost is anywhere from $400.00 – $950.00. Be sure to ask what is included in your home inspection.
At Team Sadler we encourage you to hire a professional Houston home inspector once your offer has been accepted and you are under contract to purchase a home. On our Resources page we have a short list of home inspectors in which you can choose, or for a more comprehensive list of professional home inspectors.
Obtaining an inspection is part of your due diligence as a home buyer. It’s best to be made aware of any issues prior to purchasing the home – rather than after – purchasing the home. Of course, you should be aware that a home inspection does not always uncover every defect – some defects & issues may be left undiscovered. However, having an inspection will certainly provide more information and peace of mind about the property than if the home buyer were to skip this very significant step.
Inspections should be scheduled early on within the Option Period to allow the buyer plenty of time to review the inspector’s findings before committing to follow through with the purchase. Many times the home buyer is not able to attend the home inspection and be present at the property while the inspection is taking place, since most home inspections take quite some time, typically somewhere between three to four hours to complete depending on the size, complexity and age of the house.
The home-buyer should make it a point to meet the home inspector and their Realtor on the property afterwards to review the inspector’s findings. If at all possible it is best to review the home inspection report with the inspector at the property so that he can visually point out the exact areas of concern and to thoroughly answer any questions the home buyer might have. The inspector will prepare a formal detailed report including any photos taken during the time of inspections and submit the inspection report to the home-buyer within a day or two after the inspection meeting.
You will find that hiring the best home inspector doesn’t cost, it pays!
When Will I Get the Home Inspection Report?
Most inspectors will provide a sample home inspection report so you can make sure you understand what you’re getting. Usually the full report is available within 24 hours of the initial inspection, which should allow plenty of time for a thorough review before the closing.
Your real estate agent may be able to help you find a qualified home inspector in the area.
What Items Are Inspected
Houston area home inspectors are trained to search for visual and structural problems in and around homes. In Texas, these professionals abide by the Standards of Practice and Rules Governing Inspectors held by the Texas Real Estate Commission.
Most of the Commission’s minimum inspection requirements are listed below:
Electrical System: check for old wires, electrical outlets should be grounded properly, make sure outlets near water sources are the correct outlets (GFCI) eg. near bathroom and kitchen sinks, electrical panel should be properly grounded and insulated.
Foundation: The inspector will look for cracks, differing grades, erosion, water pooling and the efficiency of the foundation’s drainage.
Windows: making sure open and close properly and that there is no broken glass, screens where applicable, joints around frames are caulked, not rot or decay, check the seals of insulated windows, double paned glass, glazing, tempered glass used where required, drip caps over windows.
Roofing Materials: Skylights, evidence of water penetration and the quality of the roof’s materials will all be noted.
Roof Structure and Attic: The attic’s ventilation, insulation, degree of completion and ease of access will be reported, that there are no open electrical splices.
Doors: making sure that they appear square, open and close properly while latching and locking properly.
Interior Rooms and Ceilings: floors are in good condition, no stains on flooring,walls or ceilings, no significant cracks in walls or ceilings, wood trim is secured, lights operate properly, no broken hardware.
Exterior Surfaces: siding, masonry veneers, facia, stucco, no vines on structure or surface, exterior paint & stain is checked for quality.
Balconies, Porches, Patios, Decks, and Carports: Generally, the home inspector makes sure that all porches, balconies, etc. have correct support and solid footing, guardrails and were constructed properly.
Heating & Cooling (HVAC System): The inspector will also make sure that your AC and heating equipment each have functioning units, valves, coils, and thermostats, and that they are not corroded and decaying in any way.
Interior Plumbing: When it comes to plumbing, inspectors will look for deficiencies such as leaks and the lack of water pressure and water supply to showers and sinks. They will also check for leaking faucets and faulty toilets.
Home Appliances: The appliance inspection is relatively thorough. Deficiencies from the home’s stove, food waste disposal, range exhaust vent, oven and microwave oven, dishwasher, trash compactor, garage door openers, doorbell and dryer vents – just to name a few – will be included in the final report.
*Please Note: The list above should not be relied upon as a home inspection report, nor does it contain all aspects and complete details of a licensed home inspectors final report. The list above is representative and not exhaustive. Please be advised that should you be required or choose to have your home inspected it would be best if you contact an experienced ASHI home inspector licensed in the State of Texas. All inquiries should be directed to an inspector licensed by the State of Texas.
New Home Inspections
Team Sadler Realtors strongly encourages purchasers of newly constructed homes to hire an objective professional, who is licensed to perform an inspection before the final purchase. Sometimes, even experienced home buyers make the rookie mistake of not having new construction inspected. Even though the home’s structure and materials may be brand new, the practice of builders using their own preferred biased inspectors is not a new practice.
If you are building a brand new home, your builder will have inspections along the way. These inspections include foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and heating systems (HVAC), insulation, and final inspections. Team Sadler Realtors encourages clients who are building to have a Pre-Drywall Inspection, which provides a thorough, visual report of the “bones” of the home before the sheetrock goes up, an very important step that’s not available to inspectors for completed or resale homes.
In addition, we encourage our clients to have an independent final inspection before closing so that any issues discovered can be addressed and allows for adequate time to repair said deficiencies before closing.
We encourage home buyers who choose not to have construction phase inspections, to hire an independent inspector before the end of the home builder’s warranty period. For the first year a home buyer’s Builder’s Warranty will cover the cost of most repairs needed on a new home within the first year (though some structural and foundation warranties are much longer on new construction homes). If you are purchasing a new construction home be sure to speak with the builder to verify what is and what is not covered by the Builder’s Warranty.
Typically, our clients have found that the independent inspection generates a detailed list of items for the builder to schedule and repair in which cost and effort of repairing certainly outweighs the cost of the inspection making the inspection worth the initial investment. Remember, have the independent inspection performed a few months before the home builder’s warranty period expires.
Option Period – The amount of time negotiated in the contract in which the buyer can cancel the contract for any reason at all. Typically, the Option Period is from 7 to 10 days, what ever is specified in the contract and the buyer pays a nominal fee (e.g. $100 – $200) for the right to cancel.