Chapter 6: Home Inspection FAQ

During inspection, customers often raise a variety of questions. This serial will cover some common concerns.

Q: What’s covered in home inspection?

A: Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) clearly defines the scope and depth for home inspectors including the foundation and structure, electrical systems, heating and ventilation systems, drainage systems and general appliances. Each system also contains a number of subsystems. Home inspectors provide their opinion on each system after inspecting all subsystems. For instance, many customs pay extra attention to the foundation and structure system, TREC thus requires home inspectors to give a clear conclusion on the functions of foundation and structure in the inspection report.

Q: How long does inspection take?

A: In general, 3-4 hours depending on building size, year built, how well it’s been maintained etc. It takes longer to inspect larger and more complex buildings. If the building is not well maintained, home inspector will need to spend more time thoroughly inspecting it to decide if repairs or replacements are necessary.

Q: What’s the difference between home inspectors and building code enforcement officials?

A: Home inspector evaluates the overall condition of a building, provides customer with accurate and reliable information. Building code officials are often employed by the local building department to enforce local building specifications. Sometimes their checks are more strict than the national building code.

Home inspector requires familiarity with not only national building code, but also local building specifications adopted by local construction officials. From home inspector’s point of view, national building code is a standard, any violation of national building code will be more or less problematic. Therefore, home inspector focuses on identifying problems and proposing appropriate remedies or recommendations.

Q: Are customers required to be onsite?

A: Not necessarily, but recommended. Customer is encouraged to be present during inspection to more clearly understand the problems and communicate with home inspector in a timely manner so that the customer will proactively take prevention measures and maintenance to avoid costly repairs in the future.

Q: Do new homes need to be inspected?

A: Yes. Building is an integral structure consisting of many systems. Each system and its subsystems correlate and interface with constraints. Any non-conformance in construction would cause potential hazards. As we all know, each sub-system is subcontracted out to different construction teams. As the training level of the construction personnel and construction methods vary, mistakes are inevitable. Builders often give buyers a certain period of warranty. Before warranty expires, it’s recommended to hire a home inspector to conduct a comprehensive and detailed check to get free repairs if needed.

Q: How much does home inspection cost?

A: In general, national average fee is about $0.15-$0.20 per sqft. Some home inspectors in Texas may inspect optional systems defined by TREC for free.

By Michael Zhang

Published in the October edition of Texas Capital News, 2013