Buyer Inspection Tips

Tips for a Home Inspection

A Home Inspection is Well Worth the Cost

The general home inspection is not designed to criticize every minor problem or defect in the home. It is intended to report on major damage or serious problems that require repair. Should serious problems be indicated, the inspector will recommend that a structural engineer or other professional inspect it as well.

Your home cannot “pass or fail” an inspection, and your inspector will not tell you whether he/she thinks the home is worth the money you are offering. The inspector’s job is to make you aware of repairs that are recommended or necessary. The inspection is a report of the condition of the property.

The seller may be willing to negotiate completion of repairs or a credit for completion of repairs, or you may decide that the home will take too much work and money. A professional inspection will help you make a clear-headed decision. In addition to the general home inspection, you may wish to have separate inspections or tests conducted for wood destroying insects, such as termites, or the inspection and testing of the heating and air conditioning system (HVAC) by a licensed service technician. In choosing a home inspector, consider one that has been certified as a qualified and experienced member by a trade association.

I recommend buyers being present at the inspection. This is to your advantage. You will be able to clearly understand the inspection report, and know exactly which areas need attention. Plus, you can get answers to many questions, tips for maintenance, and a lot of general information that will help you once you move into your new home. Most important, you will see the home through the eyes of an objective third party.

Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Most people probably only think of one or two questions to ask a home inspector: “How much is your fee?” and “When can you be there?” But these only scratch the surface.

Here is a list of questions you might ask:

  1. What types of licenses do you hold?
  2. What kind of training do you have?
  3. Do you belong to a professional inspectors' association?
  4. How long have you been licensed in Texas?
  5. Are you a full-time home inspector?
  6. How much do you charge?
  7. Do you also perform repairs? (If the answer is yes, that may indicate a conflict of interest.)
  8. What will the inspection include? (Get specifics. It should include a general inspection of the electrical, heating, and central air-conditioning systems, interior plumbing, visible insulation, roof, walls, ceiling, floors, windows, doors, foundation, and visible structure of the house.) 
  9. What optional inspection services are available such as thermal imaging, and what is the cost of the optional services?
  10. Do you inspect gas lines, swimming pools, spas, septic systems, and wells, or for wood destroying insects such as termites? (You can identify other typical systems or items.)
  11. Do you charge extra for these?
  12. Do you charge based on the size of the home?  Multiple AC units?  Other items?
  13. How much would you charge if I ask for a reinspection after repairs are completed?
  14. Will you supply a written report? (The inspector should.)
  15. Can I attend the inspection? The home inspection is an opportunity for you to learn about your new home and ask questions. If the inspector says no, find another inspector.)
  16. Do you go up on the roof to inspect it?
  17. How long will the inspection typically take? (Anything less than two hours is not long enough for a thorough inspection.)
  18. Can I call you with questions that come up later?
  19. Can you give me names and phone numbers of three people for whom you've inspected homes for recently?

The inspector may not inspect swimming pools, wells, septic tanks, stucco exteriors, and other systems and items, and many inspectors will not conduct environmental test or wood-destroying insect inspections. You will likely need to arrange for these inspections separately.

You can find a blank copy of the standard inspector report form at www.trec.state.tx.us to give you an idea of what may or may not be covered in the inspection.