Houston - Galveston Coastal Inspections I Infrared Thermography
Choosing a Home Inspector
Many consumers might believe that all home inspectors are certified and trained by the state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Texas basically issues a business license to inspect and DOES NOT certify or guarantee the competancy of any independent inspector.
There are huge differences between home inspectors. Like all professions or trades, the majority are rather mediocre. A percentage are spectacularly bad. An even smaller percentage are very, very good. You want one of the the good ones. Your home is often the largest investment of your life. Take some time to make sure you are hiring someone you can trust to do an excellent job and to look out for your interests above all others.
The real estate inspection business is a business in which doing a great and thorough job is penalized by the real estate sales business. In order to stay on a "preferred list", or, just a list, must the inspector turn a blind eye in order to not "kill the deal"? Inspectors do not kill deals, the house condition or buyer expectation kills the deal. Such lists may be considered in the legal industry as negligent referrals.
Supplying inspectors that perform weak inspections for the sake of continual referrals means the outcome of the inspection is pre-determined, which is illegal.
There is even a bigger difference between home inspectors and a building construction inspector.
A TREC home inspector is licensed to inspect resale/used homes that are bought under a TREC approved promulgated contract. TREC does NOT regulate home construction or building codes. Builders in Texas are not licensed or regulated. As the TREC does not require the TREC licensed home inspectors to be code certified in order to do home inspections many are not. I guess the question is "why are you hiring a home inspector that is NOT full code certified to inspect a new home that is being built or is built or during a 1-year warranty inspection?" The other question is how qualified is the home inspector to inspect resale/used homes and know when a code violation is present if he is not code certified? There are partially code certified inspectors so make sure you know the distinction. Forget the list you were provided. You don't know those people. Don't believe it? Take the Challenge.
A referral from a friend or co-worker is good place to start. But you should still do a little more homework before choosing an inspector.
A good number of homebuyer's rely on their real estate agent for a referral to an inspector, but there's an inherent conflict of interest present. Here's a dirty little secret. Many home inspectors are dependent upon agent referrals to stay in business. As a result, they may tend to minimize defects to keep the referring agents happy. Obviously, this is not in your best interest.
Real Estate Sales Agents might categorize inspectors into three groups:
1. The inspectors they recommend when it's their listing or they are a sub-agent
This may be the only business where the referring marketplace punishes those who do the best job!
Of course not every agent is waiting to take advantage of you, there are certainly ethical agents who want their clients to get the best inspection possible. If you are comfortable with your agent, by all means listen to their advice. They have errors and omission insurance so a bad or negligent referral should be covered. But you still might want to use the following list of questions to make sure your making the right decision.
Here's a list of questions you can use to make sure you are hiring a qualified home inspector.
• How long have you been in business?
Experience counts in this business. There is no substitute. There is no majic pill or classroom education that is better than a real world resume. On the other hand, there are inspectors who have been around for years who have learned to do a lousy job if they rely on real estate agent referrals. In Texas, the higher the license number the less time in business.
• Are you licensed as a home inspector?
This is a no-brainer in Texas. But, there have been people out there operating illegally with ficticious names and documentation.
• Do you have any other qualifications? Why are you NOT code certified?
Most good inspectors have other credentials, such as full code certification from the International Code Council (ICC). The ICC is the only legal and recognized code making body.
• What did you do before you got into the inspection business?
A background in construction or engineering is preferable. The more experience your inspector has, the better. The problem is that you cannot verify anyones background.
• Will you be doing my inspection personally?
Make sure you know who will be doing your inspection. You want the boss, not a trainee. In a multi-inspector firm of sub-contract inspectors you never know. The inspector is self-employed and pays a percentage of the inspection fee to the company you called.
• What Associations do you belong to?
If your home inspector doesn't belong to a home inspection association, he's operating in his own little world of limited knowledge and experience.
• What Standard do you use for inspecting?
The Texas Inspection Standard of Practice is required by law. Plus, it's tougher than any other associations standards including NACHI, NAHI or ASHI.
• How long will the inspection take?
There's no one right answer to this question. Each inspection is different. Older or larger homes take longer. Homes on slabs are easier than homes with crawl spaces. At minimum, any median sized home will take about 4 hours of time to perform the inspection. We sometimes spend 5 hours on a larger or older home depending on condition and time spent educating our client. These are based on normal conditions and not a fixer upper.
• Can I attend the inspection with you?
Make sure your inspector wants you to attend the inspection. If not, be wary. Being at the inspection and seeing the problems will greatly increase your understanding of the property. Showing up at the end for a summary doesn't tell you what and you don't know how fast the inspection was performed. If they book inspections for 10 am and 2 pm. they have to get in and out to the next appointment.
• What kind of report do you provide?
Much of what we do involves written communication. The report is the work product of the inspector. Make sure it's in a well organized format you can understand. Be wary, internet samples may be made up for samples to impress you and not from a real report. AVOID CHECKLIST INSPECTIONS~! They may pre-determine the condition of property to minor listings when each properties is different in condition. Reports filled out on-site have the same limitation. Narrative reports are one of the most common report in the industry.
• Do you take photographs?
Most inspectors take digital photos of defects as a communication aid. Photos make it easier for everyone to understand the problem. Especially when the problem is where you can't get to it. Like the roof or the crawl space.
• What percentage of your business comes from Real Estate Agents?
You probably won't get a straight answer on this one. Be wary of anyone who receives more than half of their referrals from agents. Of course, you'll never really know. However, being on a list may be an indicator of "favortism". They may be worrying about the next referral more than they are worrying about your new home.
• How much do you charge?
Fees vary widely. You'll find that inspectors who have been around a long time and do a good job tend to charge more. It's like anything else. You get what you pay for. In fact, you can probably judge the skill level of the inspector by the price he charges. And in this case, you want the best, not the cheapest. Not writing up defects will end up costing you money. Think about this. O. J. Simpson did not hire the cheapest attorney he could find for his murder trial.
ICC/IRC Combination Code Certified Inspector (Combination R-5)
International Code Council (ICC) Residential Building Inspector
Legacy - Texas Residential Construction Commission Inspector 1590- (Dispute Resolution Inspector)
InterNACHI - Certified Home Energy Inspector
Texas Real Estate Commission Qualified Sponsoring Professional Inspector
"Agents supplying inspectors that perform weak inspections for the sake of continual referrals means the outcome of the inspection is pre-determined, which is illegal. "
Who is Inspecting Your Home or Construction?
If you look at web sites you may assume the use of the ICC logo means the inspector is code certified. It is not~! There are home inspectors who may want you to think they are code certified when they are not. Protect yourself. Check out who you choose.
Code Certified Inspector Search and Validation
Code certified inspectors
"I hired a inspector out of Pearland on my new built home on a lot I owned. He was a little cheaper than you. After his inspection I became suspicious and called you. I now know he was a blowhard and not as experienced as you. The other inspector doesn't climb on roofs to inspect them; you do. He didn't explain the HVAC system to me and I found out from you that the builder did not install all the equipment I thought I was getting. The building superintendent says he needs another 5-7 days in order to fix what you found. Thanks Jim."" Terry L. - Pearland
"A friend of mine is a employee of Perry Home. I told him was buying a used home and he referred me to you hands down as the most experienced, detailed and legitimate inspector he knows of. You proved that yesterday on the inspection. I sent a copy to him to get repair advice. Thank you."
Nicholas, League City, Texas
"Thanks for the detailed inspection. My lawyer told me to call you to inspect a house I made an offer on. He said other lawyers call you or refer you."