10 Things to know @ Home Inspections

There are a lot of important things to know about getting your home inspected before you go to closing on your 'new' home. This article will speak to 10 of the things that I believe every buyer should know about a Home Inspection in Austin, Texas.

  1. The Option Period. In Texas, our contracts have a negotiated Option Period. The Option Period is a time to have your home inspected by an a TREC licensed inspector. Your inspection should uncover a whole host of "issues" for any particular home. Among those issues, you will find the normal laundry list of expected smaller issues, such as the places that need to be caulked, GFCI plugs that need to be replaced, or other small and inexpensive issues to be added after you move into the home. And then there is the list of significant issues that may turn out to be both a surprise to you, and costly to repair. During the Option Period, the buyer may request specific repairs to be made to the home by the seller, or the buyer may request financial compensation to off-set some of these surprise issues, or the buyer may walk away from the contract during the option period--thus forfeiting the money paid to the seller for the option period. Of course, the seller is not required to renegotiate the contract, so smart negotiations should be reasonable and specific, and based on the report of the licensed inspector.
  2. Building Code. One of the biggest misconceptions for first time home buyers is that a home that was built 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even a couple of years ago--will conform to present day builder's code or that a seller of a resell home should have to bring a home up to current building standards. But neither of these ideas is necessarily true. There may be some instances where your inspector will recommend that you make certain changes to make a home "more safe"--due to a change in the building code. But you should know that a new home built today will not conform to the building standards of the coming year(s). Because standards and code change, no home purchased today will conform to tomorrow's building standards across the board. Likewise, houses built just a few years ago, are going to have differences in what the code authorities thought was important and "best practices" when the home was built. This does not always mean that the house is unsafe or that the house is significantly different than the other homes in the community around it. At the end of the day, each generation of homes are built under different and changing building standards and codes. If you are most interested in living in a home that conforms to the most recent building standards, let your Realtor know that you would like to start looking at new homes.
  3. Cracking. Every home in Texas has some cracks at the stress points in the home and load bearing walls. Inside and outside the home alike. It takes experience and a trained eye to tell the difference between a potentially "bad" crack and a crack that may not be an issue. Ask your inspector to comment about any cracks that you notice.
  4. Surprises. The real reason you hire an inspector to inspect your home is to find surprises. Is the HVAC system working properly? Are there plumbing issues to be addressed? Are there major structural concerns in the house that should be addressed? Are there any health and safety concerns that can not been understood by casual observation?
  5. Termites and Wood Boring Insects (WBI). Though you may consider this to be a good reason to walk away from a home purchase, you should expect to have to treat any new home for WBI whether you find them or not. You are in Texas now. We have bugs. Sometimes--Big Bugs. Treat your home for WBI and critters each year and you will be much happier about what you don't find in your new home later. 
  6. New Homes. Even new homes should be inspected. I normally advise my clients to have their new home inspected twice. Once before moving in, and once after the initial "break-in period". If something is going to go wrong in your new home, it may take 6-9 months of running the AC, heater, plumbing, and home systems to find a truly latent issue. Better to be safe and get an extra inspection while the house is still under the builder's one year end-to-end warranty and get the builder to fix the problem, than to wait and pay for it yourself.
  7. Old Homes. A very simple rule of thumb: Old homes, even the ones that have been remodeled, are going to have more challenges than a new home. If you want the look and feel of a settled community and lots of old oak trees, you must be willing to pay the price. With older homes, come older baggage.
  8. Roofs. There are so many things to say and know about roofs. Let me boil it down to one simple statement--Pay attention to the roof.
  9. Foundations. Because we have expansive soil, clay and rocks in Texas, you should pay attention to the foundation. If you can put a large marble on a hard surface first floor of your home and if it rolls with no physical encouragement--you may have a foundation issue.  Your inspector (and your Realtor) should help you identify potential red flags, and further investigation may be required by a licensed engineer. Don't be fooled into believing that if you are looking on West side of town or you live on the East side of town that you are safe from potential foundation problems. Foundation problems are a sign of an engineering short-coming, and lack of proper engineering--not the decision to live in one community over another one. Good foundations and bad foundations don't care on which side of town they reside. Problems can be found all over Greater Austin.
  10. Cosmetic repairs. It is not the inspector's job to call out cosmetic repairs. You should be aware of any cosmetic repairs when you make your offer on the home. Seller's will not likely renegotiate anything on the price or work that you could have and should have noticed when you first walked the house.
Well, these are just some of the rules of thumb that I live by in my Real Estate practice. Take them for what they are worth. Each home is unique, and each home deserves an inspection from a respectable licensed inspector. When you are ready, let me know, I will give you names of some of the best in the business.

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