Before you hire just anyone to provide an inspection of your home, be aware that not all home inspectors were created equal. In fact, there are many things most homeowners don’t know about home inspection that could end up costing them in the long run if they make a bad hire. Below are ten things you may not have known about your Texas home inspector that should influence your hiring decision.
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 un-certified 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 you may be lead 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 $60 thousand 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 percent of the value of the house per year, does not guarantee everything in your house. What would lead you to believe that a $500 visual inspection would? Your Texas home inspector is not an insurance company.
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 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 and the presence of mold. 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. Additionally, 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.