This page contains answers to common questions handled by our support staff, along with some tips and tricks that we have found useful and presented here as questions.
Whether it is referred to as a ‘Property Inspection’, a ‘Home Inspection’, a ‘Real Estate Inspection, or simply an ‘Inspection’, the inspector is often expected to “find everything wrong with the property”. Seldom is this accomplished. There will always be something in the structure or its systems that goes undiscovered by the inspector during the inspection process.A home inspection is most often a non-invasive, non-destructive, visual inspection of the home and its systems, with the systems being operated under normal conditions for a limited amount of time. For a more detailed explanation that outlines an inspector’s responsibilities & limitations, and the client’s responsibilities relative to the inspection process, read the Inspection Report (click here to view a copy of a blank inspection report form), the Inspection Report Preamble (click here to view the Preamble), and the Standards of Practice (SoP). (click here to view the SoP).
A home inspection is an objective examination of the structure, systems and components of a home – from the foundation to the roof. A home inspection provides you with an independent opinion as to the condition of the property at the time of the inspection. An inspector typically spends between two to three hours evaluating a home, and may recommend further evaluation if problems or symptoms are discovered. For many people, their home will be the greatest investment they ever make. The decision to purchase a home is made with many factors in mind: School systems, proximity to work place, neighborhood, size and style of home etc. The average person is unable to determine on their own the existence of unknown problems that may exist in the home. These problems can cost a significant amount of money that the buyer maybe unprepared to spend. A professional home inspector is trained to observe these potential problems and report them so the buyer can make a more educated decision in the purchase of the home. This type of inspection is your best protection against buying a home needing repairs which you are unable to afford.
The house is new, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it, why on earth inspect it? The house is new, it has a warranty, why should I spend money on an inspection? The builder says he’ll correct anything that is wrong with the house, after we move in. Why would I need an inspection? Let’s start with misconception number one. The very fact that your house is ‘new’ should set off alarms. The decades long trend for homebuilders is to contract with subcontractors who, in turn, hire undocumented, untrained and unskilled workers to construct your new home. Wait, it gets better. Because houses are constructed using a poorly trained and/or careless labor force, the builders started getting sued by homebuyers. This resulted in millions of dollars spent by builders on lobbying local, state, and federal officials to create laws that protect the builder from litigation. In Texas, for example, there are several time sensitive and burdensome legal hurdles that a homebuyer must clear before being allowed to sue their builder. Just when you thought that you would finally get your day in court, you find out that the little piece of paper called a contract, that you signed when you decided to build or buy your new home, has a binding arbitration clause in it. What does binding arbitration mean, you say? It means that you have given up your Constitutional Rights to have a judge and jury hear your case against your builder. That’s right, your lawsuit against your builder will be decided by one person. That one person doesn’t have to be a judge or even a lawyer. This person almost always is employed by an arbitration firm or association. This association can make millions of dollars by hearing and deciding home construction defects cases. The arbitration process makes the Star Chamber look like the Public Broadcasting System. All the arbitrator’s decisions are kept ‘secret’. The arbitrators that award little or no monetary damages to homeowners continue to be assigned to hear construction defects arbitration cases. The arbitrator who makes the mistake of deciding in favor of a homeowner, may never be assigned to hear another case involving a builder. Are you starting to see how the game is played?How do I protect myself? There are a number of ways a home buyer can reduce their risk when dealing with a homebuilder. First, insist of striking or removing the ‘binding arbitration’ clause from any contract with your builder. Second, get everything in writing from your builder. The builder will deny ever having told you anything. Insist, when writing the contract, that the builder agrees to allow you your choice of inspectors to inspect the property and any buildings at any time you deem necessary. In addition, the contract should stipulate that you will not be forced to ‘close’ on the transaction until all the deficiencies in your inspectors report are corrected by the builder. These are just some of the ways to protect yourself from the builder. For clarification of these points and to learn additional ways to protect yourself, you should contact and consult with a competent lawyer. (click here for a list of lawyers that can assist you).
Five Star Home Inspections of course. Why? You also want an inspection company with high standards and ethics. Our pricing is competitive, and we are available Monday – Saturday to inspect your new home. Some home buyers choose to forgo having their home inspected by a professional inspection service. They may have a family member or friend who is knowledgeable about homes and construction. Why pay someone if you can get Uncle Bob to do it? Too often we have seen an “Uncle Bob” talk someone out of purchasing the home of their dreams simply because they feel they must find something wrong or they have not done their job. They may be wanting to show how much they know and make mountains out of mole hills. Conversely, Uncle Bob may have been in the building for years, but because he does not have training as home inspector, he can easily overlook important items; Uncle Bob may not be invited to the next family reunion if he does not identify a costly repair.
You can make it simple by choosing Five Star Home Inspections.
You can go to the yellow pages, they have nothing to gain or loose by whomever you chose. However, they also have no first hand experience with inspectors to tell you which is the best. The best looking advertisement and nicest secretary that answers the phone does not always mean the inspector is reputable.
Referrals from professionals can often be helpful. Your lawyer, mortgage officer or real estate agent can refer you to a company they think does a good job. Lawyers and mortgage officers have nothing to gain or lose by whoever does the inspection. However, they tend to know home inspectors only by reputation rather than by first-hand experience of watching them perform inspections. Real estate agents provide most of the referrals to home inspection companies. They have first-hand knowledge regarding who does a good job and who does not. If there is a drawback from a Realtors referral, it would be because they do have something at stake. If the inspector finds a serious problem, it could cause the buyer to back out and the agent could loose the commission. Therefore, an unscrupulous agent may refer an inspector who will not perform a quality inspection. Although the potential for this exists, it is the exception rather than the rule. Good realtors know that much of their future business comes from past customers and referrals, and that they will receive neither if they refer poor inspectors who cause costly problems.
Any professional inspection firm will have an agreement for you to read and sign. This agreement will spell out the company’s capabilities and their limitations. Do not assume you know what the inspector can do for you based on what you hope or want him to do for you. There are limitations. Inspectors are there to limit your risk in the purchase of a home However, they cannot eliminate that risk. Generally, their function is to observe and evaluate the major systems of the home and report to you the conditions they observe that exist on the day of the inspection. When problems are found the inspector will either offer recommendations of how to repair or recommend you get further evaluation by someone who specializes in that field. An inspector cannot predict the condition of a system five years from now, or even what condition it will be in the next day. To put it simply, anything that breaks was working the day before it broke; a furnace working the day of the inspection may develop a problem between then and the date you move in. There are also limitations to the depth of evaluation a home inspector can perform. There are components to systems that are not visible without dismantling the system. Home inspectors do not perform this kind of testing. Weather can also be a factor. You may book an inspection date and snow may fall, covering the roof of the house. The inspector can evaluate only what is visible. It is not his responsibility to report on a roof that cannot be seen. It is not his responsibility to come back later to check items which were not accessible the day of the inspection. You have booked a block of time for the inspector to inspect the accessible items during that time only. Some companies will make an effort to come back at no extra charge if they are in that general area during the following days. However, this second look may not be possible within the time allotted for your inspection. A fee may be required for return inspections so that they are completed in a timely manner. Although cosmetics and minor deficiencies may be discussed and even reported, this is not the purpose of the inspection, and should not be the focus of concern throughout the inspection.
There are generally over 200 items observed throughout an inspection, it would be too lengthy to try to mention them all. Below is a summary version of what is inspected.
- Siding and trim
- The roof. We will walk on most roofs depending on slope height and weather.
- Gutters / leaders
- Windows / skylights /doors
- Chimneys / flashing
- Steps and walks
- Decks, patios, and porches
- Retaining walls
- Driveways /garages
- Visible well equipment
- Attic framing, ventilation and insulation
- Water seepage into basements
- Crawl spaces (when safely accessible)
- Electrical Heating and air conditioning
- Plumbing – water, waste and water heating
- Kitchens /Baths
- Interior surfaces, doors, walls, ceilings, etc.
Inspection cost vary based on several factors. Size and age of property, number of air conditioning units, etc. Use the property information form to collect information about the property and contact Five Star for a quote on services.