Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of the structure and systems of a building. If you are considering buying a home, you should have it thoroughly inspected before the final purchase by an experienced and impartial professional inspector.
Why do I need a Home Inspection?
A home inspection summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the near future. Both buyers and sellers depend on an accurate home inspection to maximize their knowledge of the property in order to make intelligent, informed decisions before executing an agreement for the sale or purchase of the inspected property. Most homes that have an inspection will have the purchase price renegotiated based on the new information. The inspection is almost always paid for many times over with the discounts or repairs performed. Should you elect not to have an inspection, the same items that would have surfaced prior to your purchase will surface with the new buyers inspection and it may affect the selling price. An inspection is a prudent investment both financially and strategically.
How much does a Home Inspection cost?
The inspection fee for a typical single family home in the metroplex will vary from one inspection firm to another. Some of the home criteria that will change the price are size, age, features and specialty inspections required (i.e. termite, pool, radon, septic, etc.). Prices will also vary based on the experience, workload and thoroughness of the inspector. Choosing an inspection company based on price alone is often a losing proposition. Often the inspector will charge less because he needs the business (inexperienced) or because he takes less time per inspection (takes shortcuts) and can do more inspections per day. Choose wisely and consider more than price alone. A typical late model home of average size (2500 sq.ft.) will cost between $250-$300.
Can I inspect the home myself?
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional inspector who has inspected thousands of homes in their career. An inspector develops a sixth sense (at least the good ones do) for potential issues and is familiar with the many elements of home construction and with the proper installation, maintenance and inter-relationship of its systems. Most buyers find it difficult to remain objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may cloud their judgment. For the most thorough, accurate information about the true condition of a home, always obtain an impartial third-party inspection.
Do homes “Pass” or “Fail” Home Inspections?
No. A home inspection is an examination of the current condition of the home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies compliance to local codes and standards. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house. A home inspection informs you of the homes condition and indicates which items will be in need of repair or replacement.
When should I contact the Home Inspector?
The real estate contract usually includes an option period during which you can have the home inspected. It is prudent to contact an inspector immediately after acceptance of your offer. It is very common for the buyer to procrastinate, wait until the last minute and have to choose an inspector based on their being able to perform the inspection immediately. Good inspectors are busy; contact them as soon as possible to secure a top professional.
How long should my home inspection take?
The home inspection length will vary from one home to the next. The size, age and condition will all affect the time required. An average sized, late model home typically takes 2-3 hours to inspect and another hour of report preparation.
Are all inspection reports basically the same?
The state of Texas does mandate a written report in a certain format, but most similarities end there. Some companies will provide a hand-written report with checkboxes. Others will provide what appears to be an informative binder with checkboxes. These binders are impressive looking with hundreds of pages. Unfortunately it is full of generic information, much of it unrelated to the property in question. You should look for a company that provides a thorough, narrative, easy to read and understand, computer generated report with digital documentation (pictures) of problem areas. This allows you to see the problem, clearly and up close. This is particularly helpful when there is a problem under the house, in the attic or on the roof (yes, IntelliSpect inspectors do get on the roof*). An IntelliSpect report is available for your review at sample report.
*Under safe conditions as related to roof angle, height, climatic conditions, etc.
Should I be present for the inspection?
While it is not necessary for you to be present, it is always recommended that you make time to join the inspector at the property. This allows you to observe the inspector, ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home, how the different systems work, and how to properly maintain them. If you are not able to attend the entire inspection, try being there at the end to review the report in full. This allows you to personally view any problematic issues. For those people that cannot attend (i.e. not in town, working, etc.), our narrative report with pictures will be the next best thing. Our report can be emailed or faxed the same day as the inspection.
What if the report reveals problems?
No house is perfect or problem-free. When the inspector identifies problems, it does not indicate you should not buy the house. His findings serve to educate you in advance of the purchase about the condition of the property. A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms if unforeseen major problems are discovered during an inspection. If your budget is tight, or if you do not want to be involved in future repair work, this information will be extremely valuable.
How do I find a good inspector?
Word of mouth, personal experiences and referrals from friends and neighbors is one of the best ways to find a home inspector. Someone who has used a home inspection service and is satisfied with the level of customer service and professionalism of that company will likely recommend a qualified professional.
The state of Texas requires licensing to perform home inspections. There are three levels of licensure: apprentice, real estate inspector and professional inspector. There are many company owners that are experienced professionals. The problem is that when the inspector shows up, it is not the owner; it is an inexperienced trainee working under the owner. Do not be taken by this bait and switch tactic. Another alternative to finding an inspector is to consult with your realtor. Keep in mind that the realtor is part of the sales team; they have a vested interest in the deal going through. Some realtors provide a list of inspectors. Each agent is different in their selection criteria for inspectors. From our experience, many realtors prefer an inspector that finishes quickly. Some prefer a vague and basic report with few comments and some do not want a “picky” inspector creating more work for them. After all, they need this deal to go through (sorry, I couldn’t resist putting that in, I’ve heard it quite a few times). There are many agencies that provide a “preferred” list that is made up of companies that pay a monthly fee to be on the list. This list is full of new, inexperienced and just plain sloppy inspectors.
Of course, there are quality agents that refer inspectors that are professional, intelligent, thorough and qualified. They are usually successful agents that demand full disclosure for their clients. They realize their client is paying for the inspection and that the inspector is working for the client.
What questions can I ask to make sure I am going to get the best possible inspection?
Here are some helpful tips: Ask for a sample report. Ask for recent and previous referrals. Ask if they are insured (errors and omissions insurance) and if they get on the roof (there is no better way to view the roof in hail country). Ask how long their inspection takes (stay away from the “fast” inspectors). Most of all get a feel for the inspector and how he relates to you, the client.