Home Inspection

Frequently Asked Questions

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 other reasons, 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 inspection?
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 a 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.

Tips to consider for your next

Home Inspection

There are many necessary costs associated with buying a house, and these expenses may have you looking for ways to save money. You may be tempted to skip the home inspection and save a few bucks, here are 10 good reasons why you should get one.
It Provides an "Out"
A quality home inspection can reveal critical information about the condition of a home and its systems. This makes the buyer aware of what costs, repairs and maintenance the home may require immediately, and over time. If a buyer isn't comfortable with the findings of the home inspection, it usually presents one last opportunity to back out of the offer to buy. (This step is important when purchasing a property because it may save you thousands. For more, see Do You Need A Home Inspection?)
A home inspection can detect safety issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold, which all homes should be tested for. Make sure that your home-buying contract states that should such hazards be detected, you have the option to cancel the offer to buy.
Reveal Improper Additions or Installations
A home inspection can reveal whether rooms, altered garages or basements were completed improperly and/or unsafely. If a house has room additions that are un-permitted, it affects the insurance, taxes, usability and most of all the overall value. In essence, a buyer is purchasing something that legally does not exist. Even new homes with systems that were not installed to code will become the new homeowners' financial "problem" to fix (and finance). (The home for sale/purchase must pass inspection. For more, see Housing Deals That Fall Through.)
Home inspections are even more critical if you are buying an "as-is" foreclosed property or short sale. Dwellings that have been boarded often develop hazardous mold problems, which are costly to remedy and pose health concerns. Greg Haskett, VP of shared services at HomeTeam Inspection Service says it's common for home inspectors to find that copper plumbing lines and outdoor compressors have been removed from foreclosed properties by people trying to sell copper to recyclers for money.
Negotiating Tool
Realtor Jennifer De Vivo of Orlando-based De Vivo Realty says the home inspection report presents an opportunity to ask for repairs and/or request a price reduction or credit from the seller. Work with your realtor to understand what requests can and should be made to negotiate a better deal.
Forecast Future Goals
A home inspector can approximate the installation age of major systems in the home like plumbing, heating and cooling, and critical equipment like water heaters. They can diagnose the current condition of the structure itself, and tell you how long finishes have been in the home. All components in the home have a "shelf-life." Understanding when they require replacement can help you make important budgeting decisions, and it wll determine what type of home insurance coverage or warranties you should consider. (For more, see New Home Repair Troubleshooting.)
Determine "Deal-Breakers"
De Vivo suggests that home inspections can help buyers identify how much additional money or effort they are willing and able to spend to take the home to a condition that is personally acceptable. If you are unwilling to repair issues like faulty gutters, cracked walls or ceilings, perhaps you are not ready to end your home buying search.
Learn to Protect your Investment
De Vivo suggests that home inspections can help buyers identify how much additional money or effort they are willing and able to spend to take the home to a condition that is personally acceptable. If you are unwilling to repair issues like faulty gutters, cracked walls or ceilings, perhaps you are not ready to end your home buying search.
Reveal the Big Picture
Haskett advises that people use the home inspection to understand the nuances of what may be the biggest purchase they ever make. "People fall in love with a piece of property based on the color of the walls, the location of the home, or something else; they are completely blind to the issues that can make that dream home a nightmare," he says. (For more, see Purchasing A Short-Sale Property.)
Some insurance companies will not insure a home if certain conditions are found, or without the presence of certifications like Wind Mitigation and four-point inspections, according to Haskett. "Qualified home inspectors can do these things at the same time as their other services and save the home buyer time and money in the long run."