Hiring a home inspector is an important step in the home-buying process. A quality home inspection can help buyers decide if this is "the one" or to keep looking. While the title "Home Inspector" sounds pretty straight forward, it is actually a little more complicated. Read below to see some things that home inspectors do and don't do.
A Home Inspector is trained and licensed
Some states are unregulated, so any person can be a home inspector, but not in Texas. In Texas, home inspectors are licensed and regulated by the state (Texas Real Estate Commission). We are required to have hundreds of hours of training in the various systems of the house, and we must pass rigorous tests. We are also required to take at least 32 hours of continuing education every 2 years to maintain our license, and we must carry Errors & Omissions insurance. In fact, Texas is one of the most difficult states to become a home inspector.
A Home Inspector uses the TREC Standards and a Code.
In Texas, home inspectors must follow TREC's Standards of Practice and not national or local building codes. Our inspection is not a "code" inspection. Did you know there are several different codes such as the International Residential Code, the National Electrician Code, ASHI, etc. ? Your own city can choose to adopt one or several of these codes and even modify them to fit their needs. Since a licensed home inspector in Texas is licensed for the entire state, having to know and memorize these changing rules for every city would make the job very difficult. Not to worry, though, because the standards set by TREC are largely based on these national codes.
A Home Inspector is like your family doctor.
I like to say that home inspectors are like your family doctor--we are the first line of defense. We are generalists and cover everything from the foundation, roof, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and appliances. Our job is to give you an overview of the general condition of the house. If we see something out of the ordinary or that poses a concern, we recommend specialists who can further diagnose. This is like a family doctor who might notice a strange spot on your skin who refers you to a dermatologist. It might be nothing, but it is sometimes best to get a second opinion.
A Home Inspector is not a real estate agent.
Although we see a lot of houses, we see them from a different perspective than your real estate agent. Our main jobs is to examine the condition of the home, whereas your agent is there to help you know about the price, options in purchasing, etc. I have had people ask me if I thought it was a good deal, but that is a complex question that involves current prices and trends, your need to buy a house, the location, financing, emotional factors, etc.
A Home Inspector can save you thousands of dollars.
Like people, there is no perfect house--but some are closer than others! Often the deficiencies inspectors find are very minor, like a missing outlet cover or a leak under a sink. There are times, however, when inspectors find major issues, such as foundation problems, broken rafters, or dangerous electrical problems that could cost thousands of dollars to repair or could endanger you and your family. These are not "deal-breakers" necessarily, but it is good to know about these before the purchase so you can decide how to proceed.
Hiring a good home inspector is one of the most important steps to help you know your potential new home. Please consider hiring one before taking the plunge.