Archive for August, 2023

Letter to the Editor of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Reporter

Aug 15, 23 • News

I recently sent this letter to the editor of the ASHI Reporter, the magazine of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Since I doubt seriously that they will publish it, I thought I’d post it here as well.


“Inspecting New Construction


While pondering over the idea of penning a technical article on new construction inspections for the upcoming December issue of the ASHI Reporter, I felt I should say this first.


If your business is not located in Texas – be happy. Properly inspecting new residential construction here is a serious challenge. Builders are not regulated, i.e. need not be licensed, bonded, insured, educated – nada. It may be similar in other states, but is certainly not as blatant as it is where I work.


Municipal inspectors are, I suspect, like they are nearly everywhere; overworked, under-paid, and questionably-proficient in building code enforcement. Even those who are in the know, well-meaning, and have a solid ethical base are often not allowed to be too strict, if they value their jobs. Builders are notorious for putting pressure on building officials, either via payola or by threat of moving their building sites to another jurisdiction where less enforcement will be encountered.


With both home prices and mortgage interest rates soaring it has become crystal clear to the home buying public that independent interim inspections are a must. In Texas, any inspector licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission is allowed to inspect new homes under construction. This is certainly questionable, since they specifically exclude any building code knowledge from their SOP. This is also the case with the major inspection associations – including ASHI.


Where does this leave the home buyers? In peril. As professional inspectors it is our duty to inform clients of material and safety defects found during an inspection. If we are not ourselves intimately familiar with the minimum construction standards, i.e. the building, electrical, and energy efficiency codes, how will that work? It will not.


I think it is high time that ASHI makes the long overdue move toward requiring ICC certification for its members and assisting them in obtaining it. You cannot simply pretend to be the best, you must make proactive moves to ensure that you are indeed the best. One can spout all of the ethics one likes, but without action, it is just so much hot air.


Certification is the only way that one can prove knowledge of a process such as building. Without it, one is unaware of the very bones of construction regulations, not to mention the nuances that come by actually building homes – another prerequisite lacking for association memberships or state licensing.


The term “ASHI Certified Inspector” would take on a much broader and authoritative meaning if backed by more than the current minimalist SOP.


Flipping through the pages of the ASHI Reporter over the past few years gives me a clear view of the professional liability insurance industry’s influence that appears to be predominant. Insurance carriers do what is best for their bottom line by spouting fear-inducing mantras such as “do not exceed your SOP” or “do not quote codes”. In other words, be minimalists. Do the very least imaginable in order to protect your insurance company’s assets.


I apologize if the title of this article lured you in with the idea of discussing technical aspects of new construction inspections. I assume that, for the overwhelming majority of you who lack boots-on-the-ground construction experience and code certification, that might be a bridge too far.”

Your New Address

Aug 15, 23 • News



I have written numerous times about the near-worthless warranties offered by Texas homebuilders. On September 1, 2023, I will now have less to write about. The barking-mad buffoons in the Texas Legislature were successfully lobbied by the Texas Builders Association and their insurers into lowering the 10-year maximum structural warranty to 6 years. There must have been some big money changing hands to get a whopping 40% reduction in consumer protection. Ya’ think?


It has been a slow-moving coup. We went from having an implied warranty of good workmanship (remember that?) and habitability back in 2000 to express warranties of 1-2-10 years, and now to 1-2-6 years. Given the philosophies embraced by the ruling party in Austin, I give it another 5 years before we are down to a 1-2-3 express warranty. Another 10 years, and they’ll be like the warranties on the appliance the builders install – 365 days.


Ticking bombs.


The bright side, if there is one, is that the express warranties never actually warranted much anyway. So, homebuyers have not lost a whole lot—just 40% of disingenuous, empty promises.


I am reminding those of you who are about to sign on the dotted line with an unlicensed, unregulated Texas builder to have them build your new house that you have literally no protection from the unconscionable building practices that prevail here.


Get a copy of the warranty before you buy. Read the exclusions. These warranties consist mostly of exclusions. Important exclusions. For example, they do not cover building code violations. Since the building codes are the MINIMAL standards, one might presume that the warranties would insist on ensuring compliance with them. That is not the case.


If you do not have your house independently inspected during the construction process for code compliance, who will ensure that compliance? Your builder certainly will not. The municipal inspectors will not. The Texas Legislature will definitely not. The Texas Attorney General cannot – he’s been put on indefinite leave due to “alleged” corruption. You’ll be screwed. Self-screwed, not to put too fine a point on it.