Houston - Galveston Coastal Home Inspections I Infrared Thermography
Your Required Due Diligence
Do not rely on others to do your due diligence on insurability. You have to take the responsibility to protect yourself. Almost everyday I get a phone call from someone that needs a WPI-8 certificate on a house they bought. You cannot get a WPI-8 certificate after-the-fact. In short, you got screwed and the insurance person is just not willing to take the time to explain it to you or maybe they are not experienced. The parties to the transaction process should have looked before you closed to find out what is needed or what the potential problems were. That's their job. They are also responsible.
Yes, it was not your fault but it doesn't matter. When you buy a property you buy all its problems. If you did not check the records, it's your fault. If no one told you then you had bad representation (if any). The real estate process is geared to get you closed. People do not get paid unless you close. The windstorm insurance requirement has been around since 1988/1989 (over 20 years) so don't accept excuses.
After Ike there are folks that might have done some type of repairs, pocketed the bulk of the insurance money and never got a WPI-8 certificate. They sold the property and not telling you they had insurance claims you get caught by the insurance people who now want a WPI-8 certificate. You can't get one.
Before you buy here is your due diligence:
A classic example is the fellow that called here in July of 2010. He had previously bought a beach house. Being an all cash deal there were absolutely no checks and balances. According to him it was a "fixer-upper" left over from the storm with no repairs made. He can't get insurance once it was discovered after he closed that there were no WPI-8 certificates. He finds out after-the-fact that the seller got a $70,000.00 insurance settlement and pocketed the money. There was no disclosure of that by the seller or agent. When insurance money is spent from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association you must get WPI-8 certificates all the way through the repairs. Builders know this, remodelers know this, the experienced full code certified professional inspectors know this, experienced real estate agents know this, the seller that gets the money knows this; lots of people know. In this case no one checked and now he has a non-insurable property on the beach in Galveston. Some inspectors won't look or don't care because they will tell you it's not in their standards. In other words, they are experts at doing as little as possible.
In another (all too common), a buyer called here needing a WPI-8 because the insurance company (after-the-fact and after closing) found out a insurance claim was made for roof repairs and money was paid to the seller. The buyer had the home inspected and her inspector (referred by the real estate agent) noted some type of repairs were previously done. At that point it should have been a red flag to easily track down a yes or no on the WPI-8 certificate. Once a claim is paid the insurance folks want that WPI-8. A professional inspector would have looked to see if a WPI-8 was available once a repair was known and informed his client in the report. If caught a buyer can make the seller responsible for the WPI-8 (as it should be). If not, the buyer can pay back the money to the state of the amount of the insurance claim and hopefully get insured. This buyers inspector failed to inspect (in my opinion). Another problem has been roof contractors that moved into the area after a storm and don't know what the rules are. If you don't have a WPI-8 on the roof good chances are it is a defective roof and not installed properly. That roofer is back in Minnesota or Florida.
There are also homes without WPI-8's because the design engineer will not certify them because of poor construction by the builder. In this case the repair or structure would most likely need to be rebuilt. No WPI-8 means substandard construction. Will that be on the listing sheet or seller disclosure?
A knowledgeable inspector has to know what to look for at the property in order to determine if and what WPI-8 certificates are missing. Take for example if you see Hardiplank siding on a home built before 1996 (approx. age). If you look next door and across the street and they still have the particleboard siding then you have a clue that the siding was replaced. Where's the WPI-8? There are lots of other examples your inspector should know. Maybe he did but did not want to hurt the deal for the agent who referred him as that is how those types of inspectors get all their work.
Sometimes it's easy. WPI-8's get lost in the system because of typo's or address differences that might be able to be tracked down. If all other homes on the street have WPI-8's and you don't then you should have one too. You could also cross-reference who the engineer was in a panel of homes and call him. He should have the records. All kinds of things happen because humans are not perfect.
Hire a inspector based on qualifications and experience, not on price. This business is not a commodity. Inspectors are far from being equal. A TREC inspector only means the inspector has a business license. The state does not certify or guarantee inspectors. The TREC licensed inspectors are not employees of TREC or the state although some web sites appear to be misleading. If you want a professional with qualifications and experience you have to hunt one down.
What your home inspector and agent should have told you or checked on for your behalf.
To the state of Texas a lack of WPI-8 certification means substandard or poor construction. How can your home inspector "pass" something that is legally substandard? If you hire a inspector that is not knowledgeable then shame on you.
for Design Engineers and Inspectors
Federal Emergency Management Agency
July 2010; Lee College
Homebuilders Guide to Coastal Construction
Recommended Residential Construction for the Gulf Coast
Updated Information since Hurricane Ike