The Home Inspection Process

Existing Construction

The Inspection
The inspection is conducted in accordance with the Texas Real Estate Commission. The home inspection is a thorough, in-depth visual examination of the structure and operating components of the home performed by a trained professional.

Thoroughness  - We are proud of our reputation for thoroughness. A half-hearted inspection serves no one well, including the inspector. By scheduling only one inspection per day we are able to ensure the attention required to conduct a proper inspection. The reputation of our business is at stake with every assignment. Problems found are not magnified, nor are they minimized. Problems identified are put into perspective.

Objectivity - Objectivity is the key to the whole job. Honest, impartial inspections are possible because there are no ties with any other business associated with home construction or real estate. Impartiality is essential to our reputation. 

Fast Service  - Inspections are performed as soon as they can be scheduled. We try to make special considerations in emergencies. If we can not meet your schedule, you will be told immediately, so that you can schedule your inspection through another Home Inspector. 

Personal Attention And Guidance  - The buyer is welcome and encouraged to attend the inspection. In addition to the inspection, the inspector will teach you how the home works, explain unfamiliar systems, suggest maintenance procedures and point out ways to correct problems. Questions about home maintenance are always welcome after the inspection.

Should I hire a home inspector for a new home?

Most experts recommend having a home inspected, new or old. For new home, ask the builder to provide copies of any inspection reports on the property, architectural plans, surveys and pertinent construction documents for your inspector to review. 

How long does an inspection take?
A trained inspector will be at your home for 2 1/2 to 3 hours perhaps longer depending on the size, condition and age of the property. It is a smart idea to carry a still and / or a video camera with you to create a personal record of the property. Your record whether they are written, photographs or video tape make an excellent record of the house at the time of the inspection. Inspection duration: Depending on who you ask, you'll get answers of from one hour to all day.  Beware of the inspector who is in and out of the home in one or two hours. It takes time to get to know a house. It takes time to evaluate water flow. It takes time to evaluate a heating system and the cooling system. It takes time to check the kitchen appliances. It takes time to do each of the things you need the inspector to do.

You deserve to know about a potential new home in detail before the closing. Call 281-480-3388 for an appointment.

What is looked at during an inspection?
An inspection includes all areas of your home and lot including the basement, attic, garage, landscaping, roof, electrical system, and much more. These items are all listed in this site under the appropriate headings.

What happens when the inspection is over?
When the inspection is over, the inspector will prepare a property inspection report. This report is a variable page user-friendly report educating you about your home. The inspector will review the report with you to make sure you understand everything and the report is yours to keep.

The Report
The report utilizes a comprehensive narrative format. The typed narrative report provides you with a clear understanding of the condition of your new home. Your report will include Maintenance Advice covering maintenance and safety issues that should be addressed immediately upon taking possession of your new home, as well as regular maintenance that should take place, Monthly, Spring, Fall and Annually. Although we’ve heard it many times, nothing could be more true than the old cliché "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Preventative maintenance is the best way to keep your house in great shape. It also reduces the risk of unexpected repairs and improves the odds of selling your house at fair market value, when the time comes.

The Follow-Up
Diligent will be available for consultation over the phone at no further expense or time limit attached. Additionally, Diligent will be pleased to review improvements or maintenance suggestions with you which were discussed during the inspection.

The inspection process is established by law and regulated by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Home Inspectors are licensed and must follow, at a minimum, a Standard of Practice that instructs the inspector what to look at during the inspection process. These Standards provide the inspector some flexibility, so there is some variation between what different inspectors will find in need of repair. It is the intention of this article to inform you of the most serious and costly repairs that are commonly found. Because of the liabilities incurred when transferring property from the seller to a buyer, some safety issues must be addressed and some systems may need upgrading to make the property reasonably safe for the new buyer. Particular items will be discussed later.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN INSPECTION?


We hope the following Do's and Don'ts will offer you prospective and direction.

DO'S

DON'TS

The inspection is basically a visual inspections, with limited testing using special tools on the systems in the home. Utilities must be on and access to certain areas are required, those being; 

  • All crawl spaces under the home( pier and beam homes only ), 

  •  Attic areas, 

  • Electrical panels and Water Heaters

  • Access to the back yard ( for you dog owners ).

  • HVAC systems

 Your making these areas readily accessible will help speed the inspection process along and minimize the possibility for damage to items that must be moved by the inspector.

    The inspector will test all the appliances that are staying with the home. This will include Bath Heaters/Fans, Dishwasher, Food Waste Disposer, Door Bell, Garage Door Openers, Microwave Ovens, Ovens, Ranges, Range Vent Fans, Ceiling Fans, Trash Compactors, Vacuum Systems, Water Heaters and Whirlpool Equipment. Any damaged or non functioning components of these appliances will be noted as items needing repair. Items that relate to Safety, in this category, may include the auto reversing function on the garage door openers, location of gas water heaters on the floor of the garage, and testing of the Temperature relief valve to the water heaters.

    All plumbing fixtures and connections will be inspected. Leaks or damage to fixtures will be noted as items needing repair. Loose tile and grout around showers and tub enclosures will also be noted, as will loose or damaged toilets. Items related to Safety may include plumbing cross connections such as toilet ball cock valves that are not anti-siphon type and sit lower than the water level in the toilet tank.

    The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning ( HVAC ) systems will be inspected. If the A/C is not cooling properly, or there is a problem with the heating system ( such as rust on the burners ) it will be noted as an item needing repair. The ventilation system will also be inspected and any damage to the registers, thermostats, or ducts will be noted.

    The foundation provides a stable support for the entire structure. Because of the expansionistic Clay Soils in this area, moisture control is vital. Site drainage is crucial to preventing foundation movement. A positive grade of 1" fall per foot to a distance of 3-4 feet away from the foundation is necessary to prevent heaving of the soil. Regular watering of the foundation area will minimize settling of the foundation. Clues to foundation movement may appear inside the home by sheetrock tears around doors and windows, and outside there may be brick and mortar separation. They are symptoms of a problem and not the problem themselves.  A Pier and Beam foundation is a raised foundation with access for someone to crawl under the home. An inspector will be looking for plumbing leaks, ventilation problems, wood damage and electrical wiring not properly secured to the floor joist.

    The fireplace and chimney will be inspected from the firebox ( located in the home ) to the chimney cap. Damage to the structure, firebox, or associated equipment ( such as the damper, gas lighter etc. ) will be noted as needing repair.

    The roof will be inspected. Because this area is not directly observable from the ground, most sellers are not fully aware of the roof’s true condition. The inspector will note excessive wear or damage from age, weather or trees. Missing shingles or chimney caps can easily take place during one of our recent storms. The attic structure will also be inspected and a lack of insulation in a particular area will be noted. Sky lights are often not fully insulated.

    The interior and exterior will be inspected for damage to wood or other wall/ ceiling material. Wood rot will always be called out for repair. Garage doors often have loose screws or nuts and any damage to one or more panels will warrant repairs. If you have windows that have developed internal condensation, they will be called out for replacement.

    The Electrical system will also be closely inspected by the inspector. Improper splices, connections and wiring will be noted as items needing repair. Loose, damaged, or improperly wired switches and outlets will be noted. Recent changes in the regulations require a Home Inspector to note if there is no Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protection on any outlet within 6 feet of a sink, any exterior outlet below 6 feet in height, and in the garage. This will include the need for GFCI protection on the hot tub, spa, whirlpool, and pool. 

    This will cover the majority of notations made by a Home Inspector when inspecting your home. There can always be other notations made from the inspector’s observations, hopefully they will be minor in nature.


New Construction

Before commencing construction on a new building or altering an existing building, you must first secure a building permit.  You apply for a building permit at the local building department.  Before issuing the building permit, the building department usually verifies that the plans conform to all applicable codes and regulations, including applicable building codes.  The building department will also check if the plans meeting zoning and other codes.  A building inspector from the local building department will periodically check the site as construction progresses.  When the construction is completed, the building inspector will make a final inspection.   If the construction passes the final inspection, the building department will issue a Certificate of Occupancy.

Many areas of the country use standardized codes.  For more information, visit the International Conference of Building Code Officials web site.


BUILDING PERMITS

If you are constructing a new building or making changes to your home, building, condominium unit, or cooperative unit, you are probably required to obtain a building permit.  An application for a building permit is filed with the local building department.  This application may require plans be filed, site studies be conducted, etc.  The building department either issues a building permit, recommends changes to the plan that will allow a building permit to be issued, or denies the permit application.  You  may appeal the building department's decision.  No work may begin until the building department issues the building permit.

You need to obtain a building permit for new construction or altering existing construction.  You generally do not have to obtain a building permit to make repairs, although there are exceptions to this rule.  Additions, finishing an attic or basement, or changing interior walls are examples of alterations that require a building permit.  A wood-burning stove or an indoor hot tub may also require a building permit.  In addition exterior additions such as a deck, pool, fence, shed, or garage may require a building permit.  The following type of work often needs a building permit:

  1. New construction
  2. Alteration of an existing building
  3. An addition to an existing building
  4. Change in use of a building
  5. Cutting of part or all of a wall or partition
  6. Removal or cutting of any structural beam or bearing support
  7. Removal or change of any required means of egress
  8. Work affecting structural or fire safety
  9. Work that increases the nonconformity of an existing building
  10. Work that affects public health or safety

You should contact the local building department to see if a building permit is required for your planned construction or alteration.


BUILDING DEPARTMENT

The local building department performs many functions.  Some of the functions include:


BUILDING CODE

The building code sets the minimum construction standards for a house or building.  Because of the way that building codes have evolved over the years, the minimum building code standards are usually sufficient.   Exceeding the minimum building code requirements does not necessarily give you a better building.  Often, exceeding the requirements will just increase construction costs and delay construction.


BUILDING INSPECTOR

The building inspector performs many functions as part of the building department:


CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

When all the requirements of the building code have been met, and all other local municipal requirements have been met, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.  The Certificate of Occupancy generally means that the building complies with all  codes and regulations applicable at the time of construction.

Prior to issuing the Certificate of Occupancy, a building inspector has probably checked the construction project several times during the project.  Even so, the Certificate of Occupancy is not a guarantee from the building department that the building is perfect.  The inspection is limited to areas that could be checked during the building inspector's inspection.  However, the Certificate of Occupancy gives you some assurance that the building complied with applicable codes and regulations at the time of construction.

Many banks and lending institutions require an up-to-date Certificate of Occupancy before they will issue a mortgage.  In some cases a Certificate of Occupancy cannot be issued because no building permit was issued prior to construction, and the building inspector was not called in during construction.  In these cases, the building department may issue a Certificate of Alteration, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Completion.   A similar document may be issued for outside items like decks and pools, or inside items like a wood burning stove.  Consult your local building department for more information if you are looking at a building that has been altered.


BUILDING CODE SPECIFICS

Some States have their own building code.   Federal buildings may be exempt from the state building code.  Federal buildings have to meet federal standards, and are generally exempt from local codes.  Many states modify the codes as appropriate.

In addition, all building codes refer to numerous reference standards.  These reference standards can cover anything from gas equipment installation to obscure topics like required ventilation in a fish processing plant.  The reference standards include many thousands of pages that far exceed the expertise of any individual.

Local municipalities may amend the state building codes.  Generally, requirements are added to the codes in response to local concerns.  Rarely is a local municipality permitted to delete a requirement from the state building code.

Finally, numerous other codes and regulations may be applicable.  Zoning codes and housing codes affect how and where buildings are constructed.  The local planning department may reject a proposal that meets all other applicable codes.  Sites must meet wetland and environmental regulations.  Depending on the type of building, other regulations such as health department and general business laws may apply.


FIRE PREVENTION

Contrary to popular belief, the building codes are not an instruction manual of how to build a building.  Little is said in the building code on issues such as what size or type of nails should be used, required wood sizes, etc.  A lot is said about issues such as required fire rating, required exits, exit lighting, etc.  Modern building codes often have titles such as Uniform State Fire Prevention and Building Code.

Many of the building code sections were written in response to injuries or deaths that occurred during a fire or other catastrophic event.  Other sections of the building codes deal with life safety issues, hazardous conditions, required ventilation, lighting, etc.  For more information on fire protection and life safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA™) web site.

If one were to use the building code as a manual of how to build, the resulting building would have many problems.  While the building code is essential information to anyone building a home, It should be viewed as a reference document and not a how-to book.

BUYING A HOME: How Does A Home Inspection Work?

The objective:  The objective of an inspection is to provide prospective purchasers with useful and relevant information about the house they are buying.

This information is designed to:

1. ensure purchasers are comfortable with the information they have about the home, by explaining it’s various parts and systems in everyday language,
2. remove the mystery and worry about home ownership and provide peace of mind,
3. assist in budgeting for the next 3-5 years by providing approximate costs to maintain and service the home, and
4. offer solutions to any significant findings that may arise during the course of the inspection.

The guidelines provided by Diligent are based on what is typical or average for the home, given it's age and construction type.

  1. The two-phase inspection system:   The building inspections are often performed in two phases or 'passes' and are designed to provide maximum efficiency and accuracy of reporting.

The intent of our service is to provide you, the prospective home owner, with information about homes in general and your new home in particular.  Any home inspection service is informational in nature and in no way a guarantee or warranty on the home or its systems and components.  Warrantees can be purchased separately and I suggest you further investigate the products available if this is what you are looking for.

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