Inspections 101

Congratulations, your Realtor called to let you know your offer has been accepted. After the celebration, panic sets in when it is time to schedule your home inspection. While most people choose their inspector based on a referral from a friend or their Realtor, there is more that goes into the selecting who will inspect your largest investment. Not only do you need to evaluate the quality of the inspector, you also need to determine what types of inspection you need as different homes have different requirements. Let’s look at some of the more common inspections and their purposes.  

  1. General structural and mechanical – this is the inspection most buyers are encouraged to have by their Realtor. Please make sure that your inspector has a good knowledge of inspecting homes of different ages. Older homes require a special skill set and experience as does new construction. One thing that might surprise most buyers is that there is very little training that is required to pass the state inspection exam when it comes to new construction.
  2. Plumbing/Sewer Line Inspection – most of the older homes in Houston were built with cast iron pipes which have a life span of roughly 50 years. Once these pipes break, not only do they cause plumbing problems and leaking sewer water under the home, it is a major contributing cause of foundation failure. This inspection consists of either running a camera into the drain lines and/or isolating sections of the plumbing system to check for leaks.
  3. Termite inspection – now referred to as a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection (WDI). Before Tropical Storm Allison, termites caused more damage in Houston per year than all perils combined. Termites cause extensive damage that is most often unseen. The WDI inspection consists of a visual inspection of the perimeter and interior for signs of active or past infestation as well as conducive conditions. This inspection should be performed regardless of the age of the home. I have personally seen a termite infestation in a home that was not even completed.
  4. Mold Inspection – While mold can be pretty complex to remediate, inspecting for it is quite easy. All it normally consists of is a licensed mold inspector to take interior and exterior air samples. The levels of mold in samples are compared with the hope that the interior samples are lower. In addition to mold counts, they also look at the types of mold in the air.
  5. Environmental Air Inspection – while seems very similar to a mold inspection it is quite different. This inspection checks for things like asbestos which were very common in building materials of older homes.

While each of these types of inspections are important, it is also important that the inspector is easy to work with and can help explain any defects in a manner that is easy to understand. In addition, their reports must be easy to read by all parties involved as they are often sent to the sellers agents.

Paul Silverman is A Houston Realtor and previously held a Professional Real Estate  Inspectors License. If you liked this article, please read How to Chose Your Inspector

Inspection Report - Houston

Sample of Houston Home Inspection