Can An Inspector Perform A Sewer Line Inspection?NO, unless the inspector is also a licensed plumber. TREC’s Standards of Practice (§535.231) require an inspector to operate plumbing fixtures, test for drain performance, and to report deficiencies in water supply pipes and waste pipes. An inspector can inspect the condition of an accessible pipe by visually inspecting the exterior of the pipe, by feeling the exterior with his or her hand, or by using a mirror or a camera that does not enter the sewer pipe. A TREC inspector is specifically exempt from inspecting for defects or deficiencies that are otherwise buried, hidden, latent, or concealed and should not inspect the interior of pipes using specialized invasive techniques or equipment such as a sewer scope. According to the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, a sewer scope inspection must be performed by a licensed plumber, and an inspector who performs a sewer scope inspection could be subject to disciplinary action by TREC or the Board of Plumbing Examiners.
This information is available on the TREC website under the FAQ section.
Small but Positive Increase in Sales and Prices, Continued Increase in Active Listings
June 16, 2018 – Lubbock area home sales increased 4.3% in May 2018 with 463 closed sales, according to our May 2018 Lubbock Area Housing Report. The median home price increased almost 5% compared to May 2017, with the median price for Lubbock area homes closing at $162,500.
The number of active listings on the market posted another substantial increase - almost 27% - with 1,050 active residential homes on the market in May 2018. Despite another increase, our market is still a strong seller's market in the predominent price range. Lubbock's monthly housing inventory was just 3.1 months in May 2018, up slightly from 2.6 months in May 2017. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University states that 6.5 months represents a market in which supply and demand for homes is balanced.*
Homes spent a total of 73 days from when a listing goes on the market to when it closes. This is one day less than May 2017.
May 2018 Statistics At-A-Glance
One of the more common questions I get when inspecting a home from buyers, and from their agents, is "how is the roof"?
This is an important question, as a roof can be one of or even the most expensive repair or replacement item on a home. If your neighborhood has ever experienced a West Texas hail storm, you know how the roofing companies come out of the woodwork (some like vultures). Roofers that have no ties to West Texas, or that yesterday were not roofers, may not be your best bet when hiring a pro. But, that's a topic for another day.....
As I mentioned, I get asked about the roof and it's condition a lot on the homes I inspect. What I generally tell people is this; if the roof may be in questionable condition, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to get an idea of whether or not they will insure your roof.
I've seen some pretty weird stuff: Some roofs that I believed the insurance company would not insure, they had no problem insuring. Other roofs that appeared to me to have very few problems, the buyer's insurance company would not agree to insure.
That's why it's crucial you contact your insurance company to find out where they stand. The sooner, the better.
If your insurer agrees to insure your roof, you should be able to trust their opinion. They are putting their money and reputation on the line, and you should be able to hold them accountable for that.
If they won't agree to insure your roof, it's very likely that the next prospective home buyer of the home will not be able to get insurance for the roof either. Look at it like it's kind of a win-win situation for you if you're buying a home.
Also, many insurance companies will want to send out their own inspector to take a look at the roof, so it's in your best interest to be as proactive as possible. In fact, before you even contact a home inspector to inspect your home, you should already have an idea who your insurance company will be, what's the rates will be for you and this home, and what type of service you can expect.
Just some more friendly advice from a highly experienced West Texas home inspector!
Hear me out:
One possible approach that you might consider when buying a home is this; When looking at homes that you may be interested in, whether on your own or with your realtor, look at the home as if you are purchasing the home as is.
Purchasing a home as is means you're purchasing all of the flaws as they are, and you are willing to accept the responsibility of repairing what needs to be repaired for yourself, whether that means hiring a professional or doing it on your own.
The reason I believe looking at homes, planning to purchase them as is would be helpful. This is because so many times as a home inspector, I see people looking at a home and thinking of what it could potentially be, not for what it is. It is natural and encouraged that you dream of what redecorating or remodeling could mean for your potential home. That's not what I'm referring to. What I'm referring to has more to do with buying a home you are not happy with, or are settling for, in the hopes that this will change prior to you buying and moving in. I believe this can sometimes be a disservice you're doing yourself, and can potentially hurt you long term.
If you're thinking that this home should be better than it is before you buy it, why are you looking at it?
If the home is more than you can afford, why are you looking at it?
If before you hire me to inspect your home, you're already aware there are some major deficiencies, and you're not okay with that, why are you looking at it?
Anybody that knows me very well knows I'm a realist, I'm not big on sugarcoating the facts. When you call me to schedule your home inspection, be ready for a reality check. That's just how I do business. I won't encourage you to buy the home, or not to buy the home. But I believe you need somebody in your corner that's going to tell you like it is, for Better or For Worse.
Purchasing a home is the biggest financial decision you'll probably ever make.
You need to be ready.
Is your property ready for the inspection? Here's a checklist to help you verify that your property is ready for the home/termite/septic/pool inspection from Double C Home Inspections.
✔️All utilities on & operating.
✔️All pilot lights lit and operating.
✔️All Plumbing valves, shut off valves, etc on and operating
✔️All electrical panels easily accessible
✔️Attic accesses easily accessible
✔️Crawl space access easily accessible
✔️Toys, bath mats, dishes, etc removed from bathtubs & sinks
✔️Dogs or any pets that may present a safety risk or risk of escaping home secured properly, or removed from property.
✔️Alarm shut off
✔️All appliances ready to be tested
✔️Garage door operable and clear of belongings to be tested
✔️Pool equipment operating and ready to use
✔️Septic system accurately located
Once this list is completed, stop & celebrate! You're one step closer to selling your home!
Remember, having your home ready for the inspection will make the inspection smoother, and may help your home sell faster!
Photo above shows termite damage hidden from view
The Texas Official Wood Destroying Insect Report covers topics such as the scope of the inspection, the address of the property, any inaccessible areas, the identification of conditions conducive to wood destroying insects, and a description of any evidence of an active or previous infestation or evidence of a previous treatments for an infestation.
A Texas Official WDI Report is not a structural damage report. It includes observations of termite or WDI activity that indicate infestation and conditions that might promote infestation.
Certain lenders may require termite treatments if an active infestation is found. Lenders might also require the correction of any issues noted in the report that might make the property vulnerable to wood destroying insects.
If there are visible indications of termites but no signs of activity in a structure that shows no evidence of previous treatment, a treatment will be recommended.
To find out more, or to schedule a WDI inspection, contact Double C Home Inspections today!
So you have a contract on your home! That's good news! But before you celebrate, you need to prepare your home for the home inspection.
How should you prepare? Below, I've listed some Do's and Dont's when preparing for the home inspection.
-Make every area of your home readily accessible. What's readily accessible? All the inspector should have to do is operate the component or open the area of the home being inspected. The inspector should not need to move shoes, clothes, move furniture, unlock or cut padlocks, or remove wall panels to access any area of the home. Remember, you are selling the home. The inspector will get paid whether the home sells or not. Wouldn't it be easier for you, and for the real estate transaction if you had the home ready for inspection? You might think, "So it can't be inspected, so what?". The answer to this question is simple: I have seen dozens of real estate transactions fall through because I was not able to properly inspect an item.
Electrical panels - is access obstructed? Nine square feet of access is customary to properly inspect an electrical panel. Anything obstructing access could be risking the inspectors safety, and he may not be able to inspect.
Heating/Air conditioning unit(s) - all areas should be readily accessible. And yes, the heater and air conditioner will be operated to test temps, so the interior temp will vary from your ideal temperature during inspection.
Water heater(s) - again, all areas of this component should be readily accessible. Lots of water will be used. Prepare yourself for that fact.
Plumbing fixtures - should be easily operable, and areas in cabinets under sinks should be cleared to inspect as well. Tubs and sinks should be empty, including removing bath mats. Also remember, an experienced inspector will not operate shut off valves to supply fixtures. Again, this is the seller's responsibility to prepare as needed. Lots of water will be used to test fixtures. Prepare yourself for that fact.
Electrical fixtures - this includes outlets, switches, and all light fixtures. Have a light switch that doesn't operate anything? Label the switch so the inspector will be aware and save yourself some headaches later on. Remember, an experienced inspector will not operate breakers for their own, and everyone else's safety. Extra electricity will be used during an inspection. Prepare yourself for that fact.
Appliances - Clear out the oven, clear off the range, feel free to load the dishwasher, empty out the kitchen and laundry room sinks. All of these components will be operated, so make them ready.
Attic &/or crawlspace access - clear the areas below the attic access. If your attic is accessible in a closet, remove or relocate personal items to allow ease of access. Remember, the attic is dusty and dirty in West Texas; if you might be concerned about insulation or other debris falling on personal belongings in the closet, it's your duty to remove or protect these items. The crawlspace access (if you have one) is always fun to locate. Save yourself some time and headaches, label it's location on the closet door or exterior. Again, make the area readily accessible - remove personal belongings from the closet or area in question, and if flooring should be replaced in a specific or delicate manner, remove it yourself beforehand so you are sure to be able to replace it like you want it.
Garage door openers - Make sure the door is not manually locked, clear the areas near the door so the opener can be operated.
Fireplace - another area that will need to be inspected, and if it has a gas log starter or gas logs installed, the fireplace will also be operated. Make sure to remove personal belongings from the area.
Doorways - as hard as it may be to believe, I see doorways obstructed on a weekly basis. Obviously, these will need to be inspected.
Dogs or other pets: I personally love all animals. Maybe you do too. However, that doesn't mean everyone else does.
If you're doggie could be a safety hazard to the inspector, the buyer, or other parties present, have the dog secured to prevent a possible liability issue for you. Most experienced inspectors have been bit at least once. Remember, the inspector is legally authorized to access your home for the inspection.
Also, if there's a risk your pet could escape, or enter the home when you don't want them to, prepare now to prevent such an occurrence. The inspector, buyer, or other guests are not responsible for care of your pet(s).
Utilities: after 1000+ inspections, I am still astounded that some sellers think (or hope) a home can be properly inspected with one or all utilities off at the meter. And just to be clear, if it's off at the meter, it's off. Any experienced inspector will not operate shut offs due to the inherent risk of damage to the property.
Last: Don't be present.
I would never tell a seller or occupant to leave once I've arrived. I am a guest at the home after all. But since we are talking preparation for the home inspection, every experienced home inspector, and every savvy realtor would recommend that you not be present for the inspection. I know, your special thing or doo-dad is the most specialest, and you need to stay home to protect it at all costs. However, you should know that Texas real estate inspectors go through a rigorous background check, and are held to a very high ethical standard. And truthfully, any experienced inspector could care less what personal belongings they see along the way during the inspection.
Many sellers believe they are helping by staying home.
"I'll help the inspector find such and such". If the item is hard to find, you're already behind. An experienced home inspector will have no problem locating any item they need to inspect.
"I'll be there to explain why such and such is in the condition that it is". Doesn't matter. The facts will be reported, and nothing more.
The short answer; you being present will make the inspection much more tense than is necessary. Your unease and nervousness will show, whether you believe it will or not. An experienced home inspector has heard most everything, and seen most everything. Save yourself frustration and help the real estate transaction proceed smoothly - go see a movie, visit a friend or family member, go out to eat, take a nap at the park, whatever. Just let the inspector do their job.
Finally - never try to hide anything. For an experienced home inspector like me, this is the most frustrating possible outcome. If there's a problem with an item or component in the home, don't try to outsmart the inspector. It won't work, and I've probably seen it before, and finding a problem someone attempts to hide makes me wonder what else is being concealed.
In conclusion, make the most of the time prior to the inspection. Be ready. I hope the inspection proceeds smoothly for you!
Throughout the process of a home inspection, a quality experienced home inspector is looking for a variety of defects throughout the home.
I will start right off by saying most of the defects on my inspection reports are fairly minor. To me. But what is minor to me?
By definition for me, a minor defect is one that is repairable, not costly, and is usually part of normal home ownership.
So since I've defined minor to me, I should also define major defects to me. A major defect is one that could affect safety, security, useful life span of the home, or could be costly. All of these are relative terms of course, but we're not talking about that. For example by costly, I mean anything you could expect to spend more than $500 on correcting.
With all that being said, we're back to where we started.
Most of the defects on an inspection report are minor. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be repaired.
And, that doesn't mean we shouldn't expect the homes we are planning to purchase to not have those defects.
By the way, there is no such thing in the state of Texas as “grandfathered”. You may have heard that term in the news, on TV, or from your real estate agent. This term doesn't exist. There is no grandfathered defects in a home in Texas. There's only the condition of the home we have in front of us.
How do you navigate through all this information? For sure, you definitely want an experience home inspector. And you also want an experienced home inspector that is available after the inspection, in case you have questions. I would encourage you to ask any inspector you contact where they stand on this issue before you book the inspection with them.
You'll be glad you did.
Though tornado alley has moved east since the famous 1970 Lubbock tornado devastated much of downtown Lubbock and took dozens of lives, building standards have greatly improved. Thanks to research from Texas Tech University, we now have much more information on what it takes to survive a tornado. Below is great info from our neighbor to the north, which might help you decide what type of storm shelter is right for you and your family.
Courtesy of https://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/2013/08/29/twister-truths-can-nothing-survive-an-ef5-tornado/
Despite the risk that comes with living in Tornado Alley, many Oklahomans are reluctant to build tornado shelters. And state and local building codes don’t factor for twisters.
One reason, researchers say, is a public perception that “nothing can survive an EF5 tornado.” Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any structure outlasting the violent winds and the devastating cloud of shrapnel that accompanies an EF5.
Comments like this one, spotted on a tornado-related story on Gawker’s science blog io9, summarize a common perspective:
“With an F5 tornado you get the ‘house swept away – only foundation is left’ situation – and the only *safe* place from an F5 is underground or out of it’s path. These tornadoes are the ones that literally have pealed up the road where it passed.”
This notion that the worst tornadoes obliterate everything in their path has even factored in some Oklahomans’ deadly decisions to get in their cars and try to outmaneuver storms. In one particularly harrowing story, a mother and her 17-day-old baby were sucked out of their family minivan in the EF5 tornado that carved through the Oklahoma City area on May 31.
But is it true: Can nothing survive an EF5?
UNDERSTANDING THE SCALE
GENE BLEVINS / REUTERS/LANDOV
A massive storm front in May 2013 spawned a swarm of tornadoes, including this one near the Kansas/Oklahoma border.
The question of survivability has two components: People, and the structures they inhabit when severe weather strikes.
But before we tackle that question, it’s important to understand what, exactly, an EF5 tornado is, and how the most severe twisters are categorized.
Directly measuring a tornado’s wind speed is difficult because the storms tend to destroy instruments. So meteorologists have to estimate tornado wind speeds. The original “Fujita Scale” that ranked these estimates was used from 1971 to 2007, but the estimates weren’t really based on actual, measured tornado wind speeds.
So researchers adopted the classification system used today, the “Enhanced Fujita Scale.” That scale, which goes from EF0 to EF5, still uses wind speed estimates, but ones that are based on more-accurate surveys of various tornado-damaged buildings and structures. An EF5 tornado includes gusts of winds of over 200 mph, based on these updated damage assessments.
When an EF5 tornado touches down in habited areas, you can surely expect massive amounts of damage. But just because a tornado meets a meteorological definition of an EF5 storm, it doesn’t necessarily mean you or your house will experience those conditions.
And despite the horrific scenes of tornado destruction that have become all too familiar in Oklahoma, EF5 tornadoes are survivable — both for people and structures. And that has important public policy implications.
STRUCTURES & BUILDING CODES
JOE WERTZ / STATEIMPACT OKLAHOMA
Tim Marshall, a meteorologist and civil engineer, points at the foundation of a home destroyed in the May 20 tornado in Moore. The home's walls were ripped from the foundation because nails were used instead of bolts.
The “nothing can survive an EF5” myth is a detriment to policies concerning home and commercial building construction, says Timothy Marshall, a meteorologist and a civil engineer at Haag Engineering in Dallas.
“The logic goes: If nothing can survive, why do anything?” Marshall told StateImpact in a July interview.
Just because a tornado is given an EF5 designation doesn’t mean that every structure in its path actually experiences the full brunt of it. In fact, recent research suggests that most structures don’t.
One such study was by Kai Pan, Peter Montpelier and Masoud Zadeh, who analyzed destruction from the May 3, 1999, F5 tornado in Moore. One thing they found was a “damage gradient” that was most severe in the center of the tornado path and less severe near the edge. That’s not surprising, but it’s worth remembering that when we talk about tornado damage: it’s not all or nothing.
JOE WERTZ / STATEIMPACT OKLAHOMA
Stella and Jack Howard (left and right) with their daughter, Dawnelaina (center), sit with the remains of their Moore home. The Howards built this house after their last one was destroyed by the May 3, 1999, twister.
Even homes across the street from each other experienced the effects of the same winds differently, depending on quirks such as whether their garage doors faced the wind or not.
Marshall has studied how buildings withstood the F5 twister that tore through Moore on May 3, 1999 as well as the EF5 on May 20, 2013. What he says seems surprising: Most of the destruction in an EF5 doesn’t come from 200 mph winds, it comes from much weaker winds.
Other research of tornadoes in other states back up Marshall’s observations.
The tornado that killed 162 people and damaged more than 8,000 buildings in Joplin, Mo. in May 2011 provides another example of how, even in the most severe storms, most damage is done by comparatively weak winds.
While Joplin’s tornado was classified as an EF5, no EF5-level damage was found on any of the buildings, according to a study by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Of the 5,000 buildings that were destroyed, most of the damage was done by winds of EF-2 level winds of 135 mph or less, the engineers found.
From The Joplin Globe’s Wally Kennedy:
Had the houses in the tornado zone been built with hurricane ties — metal clips that fasten the rafters and trusses to the exterior walls of a house — the damage would have been much less. It is one of the recommendations coming out of their analysis.
“The study team believes that a relatively large number of buildings could have survived in Joplin if they had been built to withstand hurricane winds,” said Bill Coulbourne, a member of the ASCE engineering team that came to Joplin.
Damage from winds of 135 mph and less is largely preventable. And Marshall says the necessary upgrades are pretty cheap. “Bolts and clips and straps in the proper place… $500-$1,000 on a house, that’s all,” he says.
After surveying the damage in Moore in 1999, Marshall says he told city officials they should upgrade the residential building code to require stronger foundations, hurricane clips and other metal brackets and ties to strengthen walls and roofs.
No changes were made, but city and state officials tell StateImpact stronger construction standards are likely to be enacted after the May 2013 tornadoes in Moore and Oklahoma City.
PEOPLE & STORM SHELTERS
The EF5 question isn’t just about building codes. It also relates to tornado shelters. As the Gawker commenter above illustrates, many people believe that the destructive power of an EF5 makes an underground shelter the only safe place to go.
• Twister Truths: Does the Tornado Risk Peak After the School Day Ends?
• Government Help Hard to Come By for Those Wanting Tornado Shelters
How the State Pays to Clean up After Tornadoes and other Disasters
That isn’t true. Properly built, above-ground safe rooms — typically a hardened indoor closet or room reinforced with concrete and steel — are just as safe as underground shelters, says Texas Tech’s Ernst Kiesling, who’s also the executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association. In fact, above-ground safe rooms can be safer because they’re more likely to be used when severe storms move in, he says.
“People don’t get into shelters until the last minute, and by that time there’s usually already a lot of wind, rain, hail and, possibly, debris blowing around,” he says. “People look out the window and hesitate, and decide they’ll try to ride it out.”
There have been no reports of any deaths in properly built above-ground safe rooms, Keisling says.
Yet the perception that the only way to survive an EF5 is by seeking refuge in an underground shelter persists. “It’s an untruth that’s very, very damaging, and I wish we could find a way to overcome it,” Kiesling says. “But, unfortunately, once an idea is out there, you can’t kill the idea.”