Archive for the ‘Texas Home Inspectors’ Category

Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector or Things Your Home Inspector Won’t Tell You

Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector or Things Your Home Inspector Won’t Tell You


While the Internet can be useful when searching for some types of information, it should come as no surprise to anyone that it is also rife with misinformation. The term “to google” is, after all, synonymous with to search, and not to research. It is a good search tool and not so good when relied upon as a sole research method.


If you feel that you have done your due diligence by googling what questions to ask your prospective home inspector, think again. Bullshit is prevalent in our society. By bullshit I mean misinformation that is not exactly a lie and certainly not the truth. It is misleading nonsense used to further the writer’s or speaker’s agenda.


If you google “questions to ask your home inspector”, “things your home inspector won’t tell you”, or the like, you’ll be up to your ears in search results from any number of groups with vested interests in selling their positions or products. These will run the gamut from groups like Zillow/Trulia, real estate brokerages and agents, new home builders, mortgage lenders, the bought-and-paid-for main stream media like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, brain-dead bloggers, forums populated by the over- and under-medicated, etc. ad infinitum. Most of these have simply either found a list of questions and outright plagiarized it or have lightly edited it and called it their own. In other words, the lists you find, by and large, will be merely regurgitated bullshit, and not even the original stuff.


But, enough about the misinformation; how does one find useful information on this subject? Glad you asked. Perhaps a useful way to approach this is to simply make a list of the most common misconceptions floating about in cyberspace, and address each of them head on. For the sake of both brevity and clarity I will handle each of these as they pertain to home inspections within the state of Texas, where I am intimately familiar with the territory and laws. I will also limit the list to the ten questions I most commonly am asked.


Q1: What does your home inspection cover?


A1: Home inspections in the state of Texas are governed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). While this may appear to be (and certainly is) tantamount to the fox guarding the hen house, it is nevertheless how those folks in the capital of Austin repay us for electing them. The TREC has adopted a set of standards for home inspectors, which includes a detailed list of what must and what must not be inspected. This list can be found at:$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=22&pt=23&ch=535&sch=R&rl=Y


This is the minimum standard for a Texas home inspection. Said differently, it is the worst way a home inspection can be legally performed. While a few highly-qualified inspectors, such as this author, may exceed this standard, most do not. Many are either unwilling to meet, or incapable of meeting this standard.


Q2: How many home inspections have you performed?


A2: While this is essentially a good question, the person asking it will likely have no idea of what a good answer might sound like. The American Society of Home Inspectors requires 250 inspections for its certified members. While that may sound like a lot, it is not even enough to begin to get the drift of inspecting a house. The state of Texas has no such requirement. Once licensed, you are good to go ahead and begin on-the-job training while inspecting houses for unsuspecting buyers. My opinion, based upon 18 years experience in the field, is that, after completing 1000 inspections, an inspector may just begin to think of himself or herself as minimally competent.


Q3: Will you climb on the roof?


A3: Without first seeing the roof, this is not possible to answer. There are many roof surfaces that are not safe to walk on and should not be walked on by anyone but a certified roofing contractor wearing the proper OSHA-required fall protection gear. Certain roof surfaces, such as slate, faux slate, clay tiles, standing-seam metal, old, worn asphalt shingles, etc. are not safe to walk on. Additionally, asphalt roofs should not be walked on during the extreme temperatures we experience during North Texas summers. Most inspectors do not carry or use ladders in excess of 18 feet in height. This may not be sufficient to safely reach the lower roof surface. Even it is, the upper roof surface may be out of safe reach. Most roofs can be properly inspected from a ladder at the eaves and with binoculars from the ground. Roof surfaces with excessive pitches (>6/12) are also unsafe. No inspector in his right mind will risk his life to inspect your roof. It may be interesting to note here that even professional roofing contractors will often not mount a roof to give a replacement estimate. They use .


Q4: Do you use an infrared camera?


A4: This is one is especially exasperating to me. Infrared cameras measure heat differences translated to a digital screen to form a picture. These are sometimes useful during home inspections under the ideal conditions. While they are just another tool in the box, many inexperienced inspectors hard-sell their use to prospective clients because the clients do not fully understand what the cameras are capable of and the inspectors have no other skills to hawk. It makes more sense to ask the inspector if he uses a flashlight, ladder, electrical meter, moisture meter, et al. These tools are more often employed. Let us put this into perspective. Would you consider asking your doctor if he uses a stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, MRI machine, etc.?


Q5: How long will the inspection take?


A5: Without seeing the condition of a house it is infeasible to predict with any degree of accuracy how long the inspection will take. On relatively new houses, a range of 1.5 to 2 hours should be reasonable for a highly experienced inspector. It is also possible to spend 3-4 hours on a 2000 s.f. house that is a poster child for materials/systems atrophy and deferred homeowner maintenance, or a flipped (investor’s) house (lipsticked pig).


Q6: How much will it cost?


A6: This is typically the first question asked. It is always an indication to me that the caller has done no research. My fees have always been listed on my website. Most inspectors do not post these so that they can adjust their fees according to time available, house location, etc. Fees vary widely from area to area. They are generally higher in the large metropolitan areas. Generally speaking, the minimum fee for a competent inspection in my area will be somewhere in the range of $450. Those asking less are usually lesser qualified and unable to demand the going rate.


Q7: What type of report do you provide and when will I receive it?


A7: The TREC promulgates the report format for Texas inspectors. This can be seen here:


All inspections performed on substantially completed houses must be reported on this form.


The TREC requires that inspection reports be delivered within 3 days. This is unreasonable. Most inspections happen during a short option period. Inspection reports should be made available on the same day as the inspection. One caveat here is that on-site inspection reports usually indicate that your inspector is a minimalist. There is no reporting system available for portable computers or mobile devices that can substitute for a well-researched and documented report. Any report that is under 60 pages in length is less than fully informative.


Q8: Can I attend the inspection?


A8: This question should never be asked. Assume that you will be attending the inspection. Also assume that you should leave the inspector to perform his observations and draw his conclusions prior to his discussing his findings with you. Inspectors who allow you to “tag along”, and perform a walking tutorial with you while inspecting the house are practicing what is tantamount to texting while driving. Nothing good will come of it.


Q9: Are you familiar with the area in which the house is built?


A9: This assumes that houses are somehow significantly different than others. This is simply not the case. With a few exceptions such as extremely custom modern homes, over-the-top eccentric homes, or extremely old historic homes, all homes are essentially built the same way and of the same materials. Some people like to think that the houses they are considering buying are unique. This is almost always not the case.


Q10: Do you carry professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance?


A10: All licensed inspectors in the state of Texas must carry professional liability insurance as a prerequisite to licensing or license renewal. If you understand what this insurance is you will see that this is a stupid question. Professional liability insurance simply provides the inspector with an attorney should you choose to sue him. You get to hire your own. It provides no benefit for you.


Now, let’s take a peek at some of the questions I would ask, if I were hiring a home inspector. Brace yourself. They will be quite different that the list above.


Q1: Have you ever built any houses? If so, how many? What was your role in the home building process?


Comment 1: A person who has built several houses possesses an intimate knowledge of their materials, systems, structure, function, et al. that cannot be replicated through classroom experience. Driving by a new house under construction or sweeping the floors behind the construction crew in a house being built does not count. Being the general contractor or builder only counts if you actually took an active part in the construction, i.e. sawed wood, hammered nails, etc. Riding around in an oversized. noisy pickup truck and writing checks to subcontractors does not make one a builder.


Q2: What certifications do you hold pertinent to inspecting houses?


Comment 2: A home inspector license is not a certification. It is merely a license to do business. Certifications are available from many organizations. The most relevant are those provided by the International Code Council (ICC). At a minimum, any inspector should hold an R-5 Combination Residential Inspector certification from the ICC. Beyond that there are others available from the Post-Tensioning Institute, the National Fire Protection Association, et al. Note that serving as some type of officer in this or that inspector organization is an affiliation and not a certification. It is an indication that the officer is politically motivated and has way to much time on his hands. It has absolutely no bearing on knowledge of the profession.


Q3: How many real estate agents or brokers refer you on a regular basis?


Comment 3: Most home inspectors rely solely upon referrals from real estate agents and brokers who have a vested interest in finding few if any problems with a house. This unduly influences and severely limits your inspector’s judgment when reporting adverse conditions to you. The answer to this question should be very few or none.


Q4: Are you a sole proprietor or a member of a multi-inspector firm? Are you a franchisee?


Comment 4: Competent professional inspectors find it a challenge to find enough business while attempting to compete with the agent-pleasers (ass-kissers). The ability to procure sufficient business to keep several inspectors employed is one sure sign of an inspector that is tied at the hip with brokers and realtors. Franchisees are usually those who are too inept or shiftless to properly build a business from the ground up. They believe that one can purchase credibility by buying into a franchise scheme.


Q5: Do you carry general liability insurance?


Comment 5: General liability insurance is not required for Texas home inspectors, but is a must in order to protect home sellers and buyers alike.


Q6: How many continuing education hours do you obtain annually?


Comment 6: The TREC requires home inspectors to obtain 16 hours of CEUs each year, see:$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=22&pt=23&ch=535&rl=218


Unfortunately, the TREC approves only education vendors who are willing to pay them to be approved. Most of the better and relevant CEU courses available for other professionals such as building inspectors, engineers, architects, and builders are not approved the TREC. Go figure.


Inspectors at the top of their game usually obtain >30 CEU hours annually.






Ten Things You Don’t Know About Your Texas Home Inspector

Aug 29, 13 • Texas Home Inspectors

1. Home inspectors in Texas are not required to have any home construction experience. While they are required to be licensed, licensing is merely a license to conduct business issued by the Texas Real Estate Commission, which is a bit like the fox guarding the hen house. Licensing requirements are minimal, just like the inspections that most Texas inspectors perform.

2. Your Texas home inspector is not required to know the building code. The Texas Real Estate Commission does not require inspectors to be certified in the building code. In fact, they even allow uncertified inspectors to inspect new homes under construction. The building codes are the basis for determining the structural integrity and safety of a home. Without certification in these codes an inspector is not qualified to critique a builder’s work or judge the performance of an older home.

3. Your Texas home inspector is not going to look at everything in the house. While the popular TV star Mike Holmes may lead one to believe that Texas home inspectors should rip open walls during Texas home inspections to look for underlying issues, nothing could be further from the truth. While that may work on a scripted TV show, no seller in his right mind would allow such a thing to happen to his house, and damaging property to that extent is strictly prohibited by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Barring a $60K portable X-Ray machine or X-Ray vision, your Texas home inspector cannot see inside of the walls.

4.  Your Texas home inspector will not give you a guarantee on your house. Your optional home warranty (service policy), which costs a minimum of $650 per year plus service call charges, does not guarantee everything in your house. Your homeowner’s insurance policy, which costs roughly 0.7% of the value of the house per year, does not guarantee everything in your house. What would lead you to believe that a $400 – 500 visual inspection would? Your Texas home inspector is not an insurance company. It is important to note here that some inspectors offer a 90-day warranty on their inspections for free. Hopefully, you have lived long enough to know how many things of true value are offered to you for free.

5. Your Texas home inspector may be affiliated with your Texas real estate agent, the seller’s real estate agent, the Texas homebuilder or all of the above. Most Texas inspectors first entering the business have a license and no clients. The fastest way to find clients is through real estate agents. Many agents willing to refer new inspectors do so with certain strings attached. Worse yet are the agent’s preferred vendors. These are vendors like lenders, title companies, appraisers, surveyors, and including inspectors, who pay a monthly or annual fee to be referred. These Texas inspectors dance to the tune of the referring agents.

6. Your Texas home inspector is not required to carry liability insurance. Licensed Texas inspectors are required to carry professional liability insurance, but no general liability insurance. If the inspector damages the seller’s property and the inspector is not insured, he may go after you for damages.

7. Your Texas home inspector is not omnipotent. Many aspects of a house or the property upon which it is sited do not fall under the purview of the home inspector. These aspects include, but are not limited to, onsite sewage treatment facilities (septic systems), swimming pools and spas, the presence of radon gas, the presence of lead-based paints, the presence of mold, et al. Many of these items require special knowledge, skill sets and separate licensing by the state of Texas.

8. Your Texas home inspector is not an appraiser or surveyor. Appraisers are in the business of assessing property values, while the surveyor’s job is to determine the metes and bounds or property lines. Both of these professions require separate licenses not related to the licenses required by Texas home inspectors.

9. Your Texas home inspector may not be licensed. Engineers are allowed to inspect houses in the state of Texas without a license. It matters not if they are trained to design bowling balls or brassieres and know nothing of structures. Even many structural engineers are poorly suited to inspect residential structures. These are almost never addressed in engineering schools. And, a competent structural engineer commands a much higher salary in the commercial realm than does a home inspector in the residential realm. So, one might ask, why would an engineer be inspecting houses?

10. Your Texas home inspector may be inexperienced. Your inspector may be a newbie. The American Society of Home Inspectors requires 250 verifiable completed inspections prior to certification. A consensus among veteran home inspectors reveals that number should be a minimum of 1500.