Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most people will ever make. When you decide to purchase a property in Houston, TX, having a professional home inspection performed should be at the top of your to-do list. A thorough Home Inspection Houston Tx helps protect your investment and provides valuable information about the condition of the home.
However, home inspections can feel overwhelming, especially if you've never purchased real estate before. What exactly should you expect during the inspection? What are inspectors looking for? How do you make sense of all the information in the inspection report?
This article will walk you through the home inspection process in Houston, TX. We'll explain what happens during the inspection, what inspectors check for, and how to understand the results. Read on to learn how to make the most out of your home inspection experience.
Scheduling the Home Inspection
After your offer is accepted on a home, one of the first things you'll do is choose and hire a home inspector. Look for experienced inspectors who are licensed in Texas and members of professional organizations like InterNACHI or ASHI. Ask friends for referrals, or search online reviews.
Book the inspection as soon as possible so there's enough time to review the report before closing. Inspections typically take 2-4 hours for a single family home. The inspector will do a visual examination of the home's major systems and components, including:
Roof, attic, exterior walls, foundation
Electrical, heating and cooling systems
Plumbing, water heater, sewer/septic system
Kitchen appliances, bathrooms, laundry, garage
Doors, windows, fireplace, insulation
The homeowner or real estate agents are usually not present during the inspection. Afterward, the inspector provides a detailed written report summarizing their findings. Expect to pay $300-$500 for a standard single family home inspection.
What Happens During the Inspection
On inspection day, the inspector will arrive and introduce themselves. They'll explain the process and walk through the home methodically, taking notes and photos. The inspector will check exterior components first before moving inside.
You're encouraged to accompany the inspector during the inspection. This allows you to see the home through the inspector's eyes and ask questions. If anything gives you pause, speak up! The inspector can provide context and advice.
Some key things the inspector checks include:
Roof: The roof is carefully examined for damage, leaks, and age/condition. Inspectors look at the roof covering, flashings, gutters, skylights, and chimneys. They'll point out any sagging that could indicate structural issues.
Attic: Attics are checked for water intrusion and proper ventilation. Insulation levels are noted. Inspectors look for signs of critters or insect damage.
Exterior: The inspector examines siding, brick, and trim for damage or water intrusion. Windows and doors are tested for operation and condition. Eaves, soffits, fences and porches are scrutinized.
Foundation: Basements and crawlspaces are evaluated for structural concerns like cracks or shifting. Signs of moisture intrusion are flagged.
Electrical: Outlets, wiring, panels and breakers are checked for proper working order. Smoke detectors are tested.
Plumbing: Inspectors turn on faucets, flush toilets, and check for leaks, drainage issues or corrosion. Water pressure is noted.
Heating/Cooling: HVAC systems are turned on to check operation and distribution. Age and overall condition are noted for future maintenance.
Kitchen Appliances: Ovens, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers and refrigerators are tested to ensure they're working properly.
Bathrooms: Plumbing, ventilation, cabinets and fixtures are checked in detail. Operation of toilets, tubs, showers and sinks assessed.
Interior: The inspector looks for signs of water damage, unusual settling and other structural concerns. Presence and condition of smoke/CO detectors checked.
What is NOT Included in a Home Inspection?
While home inspections are very thorough, there are limitations on what's included:
Outbuildings: Storage sheds, detached garages, etc. are not entered or inspected.
Pools/Spas: The mechanical systems for pools/hot tubs are not tested.
Low-voltage systems: TV/cable, phone, security and landscape lighting systems are not evaluated.
Permit research: Inspectors do not check building permits or do zoning analysis.
Code compliance: They check if components are performing their intended function, not whether they comply with current code.
Hidden defects: Inspectors cannot see behind walls or under floors, so hidden issues may not be found.
If you have specific concerns about any of these areas, talk with your inspector. They may recommend getting a pool inspection, electrician to check low-voltage systems, etc.
Reviewing the Inspection Report
A day or two after the inspection, you'll receive a detailed written report summarizing the inspector's findings. This provides an impartial, unbiased assessment of the home's condition. Expect the report to be at least 10-20 pages long!
The report follows the inspection sequence, with exterior components listed first. Each area will note the type of materials, age, condition, and any recommended repairs. Photos help document issues.
Some common things highlighted in inspection reports include:
Cracked roof tiles, worn roof covering
Peeling exterior paint, loose siding
Basement moisture signs, foundation cracks
Faulty wiring, overloaded electrical circuits
Leaking plumbing fixtures, low water pressure
HVAC systems near end of life span -Cracked tile grout, faulty garbage disposals
Wood rot on windows, doors or decks
The summary page will emphasize any safety concerns or major defects. Most homes have at least a few recommended repairs. Keep this in perspective during negotiations.
Focus on identifying any expensive repairs needed soon. Cosmetic fixes can be addressed over time. Seek a second opinion on major structural concerns.
Using the Inspection Report During Negotiations
The inspection report is a useful tool during purchase negotiations. Most purchase contracts have an inspection contingency clause allowing you to request repairs from the seller, based on inspection findings.
Here are some tips for using the report effectively:
Review carefully: Read the report thoroughly to understand the issues found. Create a list of concerning items or sought-after repairs.
Prioritize requests: Decide which repairs are non-negotiable. Be reasonable about cosmetic issues that don't affect home function.
Discuss with agent: Your real estate agent can advise you on reasonable repair requests and contract options.
Make requests promptly: Act quickly once receiving the report, before your contingency period expires. Sellers are more amenable to recent inspection findings.
Attach report evidence: Reference relevant report pages and photos when submitting repair requests to the seller.
Consider credits or price reduction: If sellers refuse repairs, negotiate for credits at closing or a lower purchase price.
Respectfully stand firm: Be open to compromise but firm on priority items. Don't let the inspection scare you off a home you love.
While negotiations require finesse, a strong inspection report helps you advocate for the home repairs you really need done. This protects you from overpaying on a property with hidden issues.
Working With the Seller on Repairs
Once you make your request for repairs, the seller can accept, decline, or counter-propose. Be prepared to negotiate! Here are some likely scenarios:
Sellers agree to all repairs: Ideal, but rare. More often, sellers will compromise or decline certain items.
Sellers decline some repairs: Pick your battles. Offer to split costs on expensive items. Get estimates so both parties understand actual repair costs.
Sellers decline all repairs: Consider asking for closing credits instead. This equals cash you can use to make repairs yourself.
Sellers counter-propose: For instance, offering partial credits vs. full repairs. Evaluate if you can live with this.
Repairs done after closing: If repairs can't be completed before closing, hold back funds in escrow until completed.
You take over repairs: Offer to handle smaller repairs yourself in return for a credit. Assumes you want hands-on home improvement!
Remember, negotiations are a give-and-take process. Stay focused on priority repairs but be willing to compromise. Keep communication positive and friendly throughout.
Making Sense of Common Inspection Findings
Some items routinely generate concern on inspection reports for Houston area homes. Here's context to help assess these common issues:
Roof damage: Texas weather leads to frequent roof repairs. Minor damaged shingles or tiles are no big deal. But more than 2-3 damaged areas indicates potential leaks. Watch for granule loss, cracking, or gaps
Standing water in yard: Houston's flat terrain makes drainage issues common after heavy rains. But consistently soggy areas near the foundation can cause water intrusion or foundation shifting over time. Ensure downspouts extend 6-10 feet from the house.
Pier and beam cracks: Small cracks in brick piers or floor beams are typical as homes shift. But 1/4 inch+ cracks or significant rotational movement need further evaluation. Floor sloping can also indicate issues.
Foundation cracks: Minor thin cracks are common in concrete slab foundations. Thick, jagged cracks wider than 1/4 inch signal potential structural problems and merit additional assessment.
Galvanized pipes: Galvanized supply lines have a lifespan of 60-80 years. Older homes with original piping may need full replacement to prevent leaks. Consider estimates for copper or PEX line replacement.
Older A/C units: In Houston's humid climate, expect central AC compressors to last 10-15 years. Units older than this have a higher risk of failure. Inspectors will note remaining useful life based on age, condition and maintenance.
Federal Pacific electrical panels: Federal Pacific was a major maker of electrical panels from the 50s-80s. But some of their models have a reputation for overheating and arc faults. If identified, replacement estimates are recommended.
Termite damage or activity: Termites thrive in the Houston area. Inspectors look for signs of tunnels or wood damage. Even past minor activity merits getting termite treatments and further evaluation.
Asbestos or lead paint: Older homes may contain asbestos or lead, common components now known to be hazardous. Containment or abatement is only required during remodeling. Inspectors will simply alert you to potential presence.
While these findings can feel concerning, risks are often manageable based on severity. Focus repairs negotiations on issues with greatest current impact or future remediation costs.
When Should I Request Further Evaluation?
Most inspection reports won't necessitate further testing or analysis. But in certain cases, inspectors may recommend getting additional evaluations before closing. Here are some examples:
Drainage problems: A water drainage issue could warrant a civil engineer survey or grading assessment.
Foundation concerns: Major foundation cracks, significant floorsloping and other red flags may require structural engineer evaluation. This can determine repair scope and costs.
Pest issues: Active termite damage will likely necessitate treatment and further inspection by a pest control company.
Asbestos or mold: If remodeling areas with asbestos or mold contamination, abatement contractors should evaluate containments needs.
Sewer scopes: For older homes, a sewer scope can assess underground sewer line condition to check for root intrusion or breaks.
Any evaluations should be completed quickly during your inspection period. Ask your inspector for referrals to qualified specialists.
How Inspections Can Reduce Your Risk
While home inspections require an upfront cost and effort, they can greatly reduce your risk as a buyer. A thorough inspection:
Protects your investment: Identifying issues early prevents overpaying for repairs needed down the road.
Provides negotiating power: Objective inspection findings carry weight for requesting fixes from the seller.
Avoids surprises: Catching problems before closing avoids move-in headaches and unexpected costs.
Outlines maintenance needs: The report provides a maintenance roadmap for all homes systems and components.
Educates first-time buyers: Walking through the inspection demystifies how homes function for new homeowners.
Brings peace of mind: Third-party confirmation that a home is fundamentally sound, or guidance on issues to correctly.
While no home is perfect, a good inspection helps you enter a purchase with eyes wide open. For one of the biggest purchases of your life, the inspection serves as inexpensive insurance.
Navigating the home inspection process for the first time can feel daunting, especially in a competitive market like Houston. Keep these tips in mind:
Schedule the inspection immediately once your offer is accepted.
Thoroughly read the full inspection report once received. Make note of any concerns.
Focus requests to the seller on priority items vs. small cosmetic issues.
Attach relevant report excerpts and photos with repair requests.
Get estimates for potentially expensive repairs.
Be willing to negotiate and compromise respectfully with the sellers.
Further specialized evaluations may be needed in some cases.
The inspection reduces your financial risk and provides peace of mind.
While inspection findings can feel overwhelming, they simply help you make a deliberate, well-informed decision about the largest purchase many of us make. With a good inspector and smart negotiations, you can resolve the most pressing issues before closing. This sets any home off on the right foot.
I hope this overview gives you confidence in making the most of the home inspection process on your Houston area home purchase! Let me know if you have any other home buying questions.