This article will speak to 10 of the things that I believe every buyer should know about a Home Inspection of Real Estate in Austin, Texas. I will start with New Home Construction, because many buyers think that they can get away without having a new home inspected and also believe that they don't need a new home construction Realtor (that costs them nothing) to represent them when buying a new home. I have dozen's of clients who would tell you otherwise...
Ten Things You should know about a Home Inspection:
- New Homes Need Inspections just like Resell Homes. I have a lot of clients who I advise in buying new homes from a builder. All homes were once new homes and many of the problems found in a resell home could have been there since they were built and could have been corrected in the beginning. Systems related issues. Just because a home is new does not mean it is going to be perfect. Over the years I have seen many reputable new home builders make (big) mistakes with new homes that could have been corrected by the builder if detected before closing.
- 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 questions about that particular home. Among those questions, 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 addressed 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 a costly to
repair to either the seller or you. 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. 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.
- Building Code. One of the biggest problems and misconceptions for many 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 should have to bring a
home up to current building standards. 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"--by bringing it up to some of the current standards. But you should know that a new home
built today will not conform to the building standards of the coming
years. Because standards and codes constantly change, 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. It just means the building standard has changed. At the end of the day, each generation of homes
are built under different and changing building standards. 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.
- Cracking on the walls. Virtually 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 what may be a potentially "bad" crack from what may be a crack of little or no consequence.
Ask your inspector and your Realtor (before you make an offer on a house) to comment about any cracks that you notice.
- Surprises. The real reason you hire an inspector to inspect
your home is to find surprises. You already know that it has a broken window and a very old AC, but there are some things that you can't see when you walk a house. Is the HVAC system working properly? Are
there plumbing issues to be addressed? Are there major structural
concerns in the house? Are there any health and
safety concerns that can not been understood by casual observation? What did the inspector uncover that was a surprise to you and to your Realtor?
- Termites and Wood Destroying Insects (WDI). 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 WDI's, whether you find them or not. You are in Texas now. We have bugs. Big Bugs. Treat your home for bugs and critters each year and you will be much happier about what you don't find later.
- When to inspect a New Home. 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.
- Lipstick and Pigs. You may be buying a home that has been remodeled. Well, remodeling can be done to a range of levels. There are remodelers who take great pride in making a home as close to a new home as you can get without actually building a new from from the foundation up. And there are those who are simply painting the pig and making it look new on the outside and inside, when in fact it has a number of issues that you just can't see until it has been poked, prodded and measured by an experienced inspector (not all inspectors are are as good as the best inspectors). I would say, if you are buying a home that has been remodeled, you really need one of the best inspectors you can find to inspector your home. One that understands home construction (Sadly, this does not seem to be a requirement of the state licensing board for Inspectors).
- 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. Make sure your inspector tells you everything he can about the roof.
- Foundations. Same advice as the roof. Pay attention when you are looking for a house and when you have the house inspected. Because we have expansive soil, clay and embedded limestone in Texas, you should pay attention to the condition of the foundation, the interior and exterior wall and the soil surrounding the house. There are little things that your Realtor can do to red flag a possible foundation concern and even more things that the inspector should look for that may signal a problem or issue with the foundation. Pay attention.
I hope to hear from you, soon. Tim