What is a home inspection?
A home inspection, as defined, is an examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, which provides a detailed ‘snapshot’ of the condition of the home at the time of the inspection. The purpose of a home inspection is to help reduce some of the risk involved in purchasing a home; however, it cannot eliminate those risks, nor can the inspector anticipate future events or changes in performance due to changes in use or occupancy. The inspection will cover any potential health and safety issues in addition to areas in need of repair or replacement.
In Texas, inspectors must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), and are required to comply with the TREC Standards of Practice when inspections are performed for a prospective buyer or seller of a one-to-four family residential property. The Standards of Practice are the minimum levels of inspection practice required of inspectors for the accessible parts, components, and systems typically found in improvements to real property.
Keep in mind that the inspector is not required to move any furnishings or stored items. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ensure the access to all the major components of the home is clear prior to the inspection commencing.
In the report, the inspector will note which items were Inspected (I), Not Inspected (NI), Not Present (NP), and/or Deficient (D). General deficiencies include inoperability, material distress, water penetration, damage, deterioration, missing parts and unsuitable installation. Items identified on the report do not obligate either the Seller or the Buyer to make any repairs or take any other action. The decision to correct a hazard or any deficiency identified in an inspection report is left to the parties to the contract for the sale or purchase of the home.
Please keep in mind that there may be several items on the report that are related to building codes or safety issues – and very few homes will comply with these. These same conditions may not have violated building codes or common practices at the time of the construction of the home, or they may have been ‘grandfathered’ because they were present prior to the adoption of codes prohibiting such conditions. The inspection is still required by law to report these items as deficient if found not to comply.
Why do I need a home inspection?
The purchasing of your home may be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize unwanted surprises, you will want to learn as much as you can about the condition of the home BEFORE you purchase it. An inspection may identify the need for repairs, as well as the need for maintenance to better protect your investment. After the inspection, you will know more about the property, which will aid you in making an informed decision as to purchase the home or not.
What does a home inspection cost?
The inspection fee for a typical single-family property varies depending upon a number of factors such as: size of the house; its age, particular features of the house (slab foundation, crawl space, etc…); and possible option systems inspected. Typically, a home inspection costs around $250 to $400…plus any ‘optional’ services, such as: lawn sprinkler systems; swimming pools, spas, hot tubs and associated equipment; outbuildings; outdoor cooking equipment; gas supply systems; private water wells; septic systems; whole-house vacuum systems; and other built-in appliances. Cost should not be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection – due to the potential costs involved should you decide NOT to have it inspected.
Can a home ‘fail’ an inspection?
No, an inspection is an examination of the current condition of the home. There is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ rating issued.
When do I schedule the home inspection?
Once the purchase contract has been signed, you will want to schedule your home inspection right away. This is because you will want to find out about any potential problems, have time to schedule any additional inspections that may be required, and of course…time to negotiate repairs with the Owner. All of this will need to occur DURING your option period. Should it exceed the time frame of your option period, and you have not extended the option period, you are stuck with purchasing the home, no matter what additional problems may be revealed in the condition of the home.
Should I attend the inspection?
If you are the Buyer, I recommend you have the inspector call you before his inspection is concluded. Allow yourself enough time to get there and attend a final walk-through with the inspector. You will want him to show you any potential problems – also, feel free to ask any questions about his report. If you are the Seller, you have every right to attend; however, I recommend that you do not follow the inspector around the house trying to justify any deficiency he writes down.
What if deficiencies are found in the home?
If the inspector identified any deficiencies, this does not mean that you should not purchase the home. It only notifies you in advance of what you can expect. Perhaps the major issues can be negotiated out, and the minor issues can be repaired by you after you purchase the home. Do not ‘nit-pick’ every little item on the report. That is a good way to get the Seller ticked off.
As the Seller, how do I prepare my home for the inspection?
- Ensure all utilities are turned on
- All pilot lights are lit
- All locks are to be removed or unlocked from areas that may prohibit the inspector accessing, such as attics, doors, padlocks on gates, etc…
- Attic access is clear. If attic access is in the garage, be sure there are no cars, shelving units, moving boxes, storage crates blocking the access. If attic access is in a hallway or closet, make sure thee are no light fixtures or furniture blocking the access panel or pull-down ladder
- Crawl space (if applicable) access is clear
- Electrical panels are accessible and not locked
- Water heater is accessible
- Furnace is accessible
- Cooling system is accessible
- Built-in kitchen appliances are accessible and ready to operate
- Pets are secure
Spending a couple hundred dollars on the inspection, can potentially save you thousands of dollars.