If you haven’t already, you might want to check out the recent WFAA article discussing the declining quality of home construction in the DFW area. You can find it here:
While the inspector’s concerns in the article are a step in the right direction, they may not be providing you with the full picture. His optimism in estimating that only 90% of new houses in the area have structural defects is questionable at best. In my 27 years of inspecting houses, I consistently find structural issues in every single one, and they seem to be worsening.
The recommendation to have inspections during the construction process, as suggested by the inspector in the article, is indeed sound advice. However, the problem lies in the fact that, like the inspector mentioned, almost 100% of the home inspectors licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission lack the qualifications needed to inspect buildings under construction.
All houses built in Texas must adhere to standards such as the International Residential (IRC) and Energy Conservation (IECC) Codes, as well as the National Electrical Code (NEC). However, the standards of practice (SOP) for TREC-licensed inspectors explicitly exclude knowledge of building, energy, or electrical codes.
Builders are required to conform to prescriptive codes, which provide detailed requirements for the design and construction of buildings, specifying certain materials, methods, and dimensions.
In contrast, the SOP for TREC inspectors follows a performance code, which sets overall goals and objectives for buildings in terms of safety, functionality, and sustainability. Rather than specifying materials or methods, performance codes prioritize achieving desired outcomes over time.
It’s important to note that a house under construction, obligated to be built according to a prescriptive code, cannot be effectively inspected using a performance code. Since it’s new, no time has passed, and its performance over time cannot be measured. Due to the intricate nature of house construction projects and the multitude of factors involved, performance codes lack the detailed instructions necessary for proper construction. This opens the door to interpretations by contractors and inspectors that often serve as excuses for not adhering to proper procedures.
Think about it like this. Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Edmonds, et al., don’t publish reliability reports on automobiles that have just rolled off the assembly line, right?
Builders required to adhere to prescriptive codes are unlikely to address reported defects from an inspector operating under a performance code. Hiring an under-qualified and under-performing inspector will lead to wasted money and a house that does not perform as intended over time.
No inspector lacking a Residential Combination Inspector certification from the International Code Council is qualified to inspect new house. Check your inspector’s credentials (or lack thereof) here: