So you're looking for a home, and find one. Now, you need to get a pro to inspect it for you.
Who do you hire? There are a wealth of choices in West Texas right now since, like most real estate markets nationwide, our market is hot.
A few things I've learned having been a licensed pro for several years, and having performed thousands of inspections for real! clients to this point:
If the inspector is the cheapest one, it's either because that inspector is new, is doing anything they can to get even one inspection, or does not provide a thorough inspection.
If the inspector is trying to book the inspection on a weekend, they are either part-time (read highly inexperienced), desperate to get even one inspection, or are from out of the area and service West Texas part time. Believe it or not, there are several inspectors that have swooped into our area from San Antonio and Fort Worth. Ask yourself, realistically, how would an inspector from Central or North Texas know anything about the homes in our area? Our neighborhoods? Local home builders?
If the inspector has a great reputation from REAL clients online (not made up or fake reviews from people that don't exist) then your next step is giving them a call, text, email or booking an inspection with them online. Pick their brain. Share your concerns. Don't just hire the first one to answer, or the cheapest inspector from out of the area.
You will likely be disappointed if you don't do your homework!
BEWARE of the part time home inspectors!
Despite the fact that West Texas does not receive much rain, this does not mean that moisture intrusion into a home is not possible. I inspect roughly 400 homes annually, and I can tell you that the opportunities for moisture intrusion are taken for granted by roofing contractors, builders, handymen, and homeowners daily. Sometimes it's the little things on a structure that can make a big difference, and other times, it's obvious problems that are allowing your home to be damaged by moisture intrusion, and associated defects.
Let's look at a West Texas home with a potentially major moisture intrusion problem:
Here we have a closet with an obvious moisture intrusion problem. It may be easy to assume that the water made it's way into the home from the wall, but in my experience, this may not be true. Water has a way of traveling in unusual ways. Could the water have made it's way into the home from the roof above, and traveled down the wall into the home?
This home had a flat roof, meaning virtually no slope to the roof. Though many areas of the country might not consider designing this type of roof for a home due to being in regions of the country with more precipitation, it is not rare for our area. The roof covering at this home had been poorly installed, and the roof layer was not adhering to the structure below, in addition to many other areas of defects on the roof. This is why the water in the closet could be the result of roof leaks.
The rear wall of the home could be the source of the leak. This home had a masonry exterior cladding, and the cladding was in contact with the soil at many locations on the exterior. Why does this matter? Because the opportunity for moisture intrusion, termites, and other possible problems rapidly increases when there is no gap between the exterior cladding (brick, masonry, siding, etc.) and the grade on the outside of the home. How can you check to see if there is a crack in the cladding below the soil level? How can the termite inspector check for termite activity?
So, this area could also be the source of the moisture intrusion.
The point is, the only way to identify the cause of the leak may be to force water into every possible access point and see what happens. No other way can prove where the problem has started. And many times, this way can require some demolition. So many unknowns. And so many unanswered questions.
This is one more reason to hire a licensed, experienced home inspector.
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!