What Really Matters in a Home Inspection
The home inspection issues that really matter fall into four main categories:
- Major defects (i.e. a structural failure)
- Things that LEAD to major defects (i.e. a small roof flashing leak)
- Things that may hinder your ability to finance, occupy, or insure
- Safety hazards (i.e. exposed, live, buss bar at the electrical panel)
If you’re a seller, an inspection can help you find problems before you put the house on the market. This will let you make the repairs without wrangling over the cost with a potential buyer.
Scope of the Home Inspection and Cost
A typical home inspection covers all major mechanical systems, structural integrity, cosmetic features and other aspects of the house. This includes:
- Heating and cooling systems
- Interior and exterior
- Kitchen, which includes cabinets, counters, sinks, faucets, garbage disposals and other built-in appliances
- Exterior walls
- Parapets, trim
- Basement and crawl space
- Examination of the attic and roof to assess the insulation, ventilation, framing, roof surface, flashing, penetrations, drainage, overhangs, gutters and downspouts
The task should take two to four hours or more, depending on the specifics of the job (i.e. size or age of home, irrigation systems, etc.). Costs range from $350 to $800 for typical homes, but they can go higher, again depending on the age and type of structure.
What to Expect on the Day of Your Inspection
On the day of the inspection, the inspector performs an initial site evaluation. If you are on-site for the inspection, the inspector should take you on a tour. The inspector should point out the assets as well as any potential problems. Pay attention, ask plenty of questions and learn. A thorough inspection can find problems related to water entry, roof leaks, unsafe wiring, failed septic systems, poor plumbing, and safety hazards.
At the end of the inspection, you receive a written report detailing all the findings. The report should contain photographs and descriptions of any damage or defects found during the inspection, as well as details on the location of damage. Pictures help you understand the scope and location of the damage, and visual proof makes it easier to get repair estimates.
How to Choose a Home Inspector
Most home inspections are thorough, but even the best inspectors might not catch everything. “The inspector is performing a visual inspection on the condition of the home on that day,” says Micah Stephens of SafeShield Inspections. “He or she cannot visualize what is behind walls or concrete. But my goal is always to provide a top-quality inspection and information to help my clients make an informed decision.”
Here’s how to find the right home inspector:
- Look for an inspector before you shop for a home. If you choose a home first, time is critical, and you may feel pressured to pick the first inspector you meet.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations. Or look up a list of local inspectors on the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, InspectorSeek website: http://www.inspectorseek.com/
- Do your research and ask lots of questions of prospective inspectors. This includes their backgrounds, the length of time they’ve been in the business, the number of inspections they’ve performed and what sort of report they’ll provide.
- Look for a professional inspector with a broad knowledge of a home’s systems and structures, not just someone specialized in a certain field, such as a plumber or electrician.
- If your state regulates home inspectors, check with the state agency to verify the inspector’s license and check his or her record for complaints. Texas home inspectors are regulated by the Texas Real Estate Commission; check for inspectors: https://www.trec.texas.gov.
- If your state does not regulate inspectors, look for credentials such as certification by InterNACHI or ASHI.
- Make sure your inspector is objective, independent and does not have any affiliation with the real estate agency selling the home.
- Choose an inspector who carries errors and omissions insurance.
- Take the time to speak with several inspectors and have confidence in their skills and demeanor.
- Be sure your inspector is familiar with the particular type of house you’re considering. Homes of different ages, designs and materials each have special risks and offer special signs, symptoms and clues to hidden damage.
- Choose an inspector who can deliver a completed report with plenty of time for review. Also request an electronic copy so you can e-mail it to friends and family. View a sample report.
SafeShield Inspections, LLC
If you need a home inspection in the Greater Houston area and surrounding communities, please consider SafeShield Inspections, LLC. Company owner, Micah Stephens, is a certified, professional home inspector who works with home buyers, sellers, and their agents to provide valuable information about a property’s condition at the time of the inspection. Micah knows that buying a home is one of the most significant investments a person can make in his or her lifetime, and he aims to deliver a comprehensive report to his clients so they can make an informed decision.
Micah is certified by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). He is a member in good standing of InterNACHI, the Texas Professional Real Estate Inspectors Association (TPREIA), and is an associate member of the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR).
Micah successfully completed the Texas Professional Course for Home Inspection (450 hours of combined classroom and field training) from American Home Inspectors Training in association with The University of Texas Arlington. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard.