In a nutshell, what exactly is a home inspection?
Quite simply, an inspection can be described as a visual examination of the physical structures and the systems within a building. A proper inspection should be performed whenever you are in the process of buying a house, a townhouse, a condominium, and so on. The inspection should be completed by an impartial, experienced, licensed, and professional inspector before the final purchase.
What does an inspection include?
An inspection includes a visual examination of a building. The inspector evaluates and reports the condition of the foundation, grading, roof, roof structure, interior/exterior walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, fireplace/chimney, electrical systems, heating equipment, cooling equipment (temperature permitting), plumbing system, water heating equipment and built-in kitchen appliances. During a standard inspection, only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report. Inspectors who are licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) are required to comply with the TREC Standards of Practice when inspections are performed for a prospective buyer or a prospective seller of one-to-four family residential properties.
The Standards of Practice are minimum levels of inspection practice required of inspectors for the accessible parts, components and systems typically found in improvements to real property, excluding detached structures, decks, docks and fences. The inspector may provide a higher level of inspection performance than required by these Standards of Practice and may inspect parts, components and systems in addition to those described by the Standards of Practice.
A long inspection report doesn’t necessarily indicate serious issues. A home inspector must list every item they find wrong with the house—whether it is a significant issue or not. Inspectors take multiple photos throughout the inspection and include them in their reports.
For instance, an inspector might note that a window screen is damaged and include photos. Small items like this can often make up the majority of the report, so it’s important not to focus on the number of issues, but rather the severity of them.
Why is it necessary to have an inspection performed by a professional
inspector? Can’t I just do it myself?
Most people’s homes are their largest investments. When purchasing a new property, it is imperative that you learn as much as possible about this property before you buy it. A thorough home inspection can also minimize any unpleasant (and expensive) surprises that might occur. An inspection can identify the need for immediate repairs, builder errors and potential pain points for the future owner.
A home inspection can also inform the buyers about any maintenance that might be needed to help better protect the home. Overall, at the end of the inspection, you will better know your house and will give you the information to make better-informed decisions about your purchase and the future care of the home. Although this is not the case for all buyers, many homebuyers may lack the knowledge and the expertise of a professional inspector. Additionally, the home buyers may also lack the impartiality that the inspector will bring to the table. In a purchasing situation it is often very difficult to remain objective and unemotional about the home being considered and can lead to a poor assessment of the property considered. A professional inspector is familiar with the critical elements of construction and with the proper installation, maintenance and inter-relations of these elements.
What if the inspection indicates a lot of problems?
If an inspector identifies a problem, this doesn’t mean that you should or should not buy the house. It is important, rather, that you will know in advance what to expect. Most of the inspection will likely include maintenance recommendations, life expectancies and minor imperfections. A seller may be willing to make repairs based on deficiencies discovered by the inspector. The issues that really matter will fall into four categories: major defects (structural failure); things that may lead to major defects (a small roof-flashing leak); things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy or insure the home or real estate property, and; safety hazards (such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electrical panel).
If you are budget conscious, or are a first-time buyer, extensive and complicated repairs revealed can provide a lot of information about what type of situation you are getting into.
Can I hire the Inspector to make small repairs or give me estimates for repairs?
When an inspector has performed an inspection under a real estate contract, lease, or exchange of real property, TREC rules (§535.220) preclude the inspector from accepting employment to repair, replace, maintain or upgrade systems or components of property covered by the Standards of Practice within 12 months after the date of the inspection. This provision only prevents an inspector from accepting employment to repair those homes or systems he or she inspected. It does not prevent an inspector from accepting employment to repair homes or systems the inspector did not inspect. If more than 12 months have passed since the inspection, this provision does not apply.
Do I need to reschedule my inspection if there is rain in the forecast?
Home-buyers often worry that having a home inspection in the rain will lead to a lower quality inspection. The obvious concern is that because of the rain, the inspector will not be able to see certain defects or access certain areas of the home.
That’s a possibility, and there are absolutely times when at a minimum; the exterior portion of the inspection has to be re-scheduled due to the volume of rain.
The inspector may recommend that all of the interior portions of the home include the attic(s) undergo assessment and then a return trip be scheduled. If you, the home-buyer, are in an option period, dividing the inspection like this allows you more time for due diligence.
But light to moderate rainy days shouldn’t prompt you to cancel your home inspection if you are in an option period. I think the risk of losing due diligence days while trying to find another inspection company (some home inspection companies may not be able to get them back on their schedule) is too high to warrant a cancellation.
I also don’t believe that there is a reason to worry, as long as you found the best home inspector available, you will still get a high-quality inspection. In my opinion, inspecting a home during light to moderate rainfall is a bonus. To help explain that statement, I’ll provide a list of common questions that I’ve answered which will help explain the pros and cons.
How does rain affect the inspection of the roof system?
Small gap letting water into the home
PRO’S: Inspecting in the rain helps inspectors find new leaks and shouldn’t prevent them from finding old leaks. New leaks are water leaks that can only be found from within the attic when it is raining. Once the rain quits and the water dries, new leaks leave no evidence of their existence.
It’s also important to remember that most leaks are observed from within the attic and home; rain won’t affect access to those locations.
CON’S: Rain can limit access to the roof and can make it difficult to accurately assess some components. For instance, the roof is less likely to be walked if it is steep due to the water and the inspector may have trouble accurately dating the age of the shingles (wet shingles mask granule loss and color deviations, which are key identifiers).
I think every inspector should walk the roof when it is safe to do so. But I think they should walk it to get their hands on the shingles to better assess the aggregate, test shingle adhesion at common trouble spots, and to make sure that there are no obscured defects.
How does rain affect the inspection of the exterior Grading and Drainage of the home?
There’s no better time to evaluate your lots ability to divert surface water than when there is a torrential downpour of rain. If streams of surface water are being routed onto the rear patio of the home, your inspector will have an easy time documenting the problem.
Even more, she may spend more time evaluating the interior and exterior of the house at the floor level for signs of partial flood damage.
Conversely, if that same home was inspected during a dry spell, there may not be any evidence that large volumes of water have been collecting onto the rear patio and had flooded the home.