Arlington Board of Realtors

By Barbara Landers, President, Arlington Board of Realtors.
By Barbara Landers, President, Arlington Board of Realtors.

Take a closer look at what you are about to buy

You have finally found a house that’s just right for you and your family. But before you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in that “perfect” home, find out what is not so perfect about it.

Houses include many complicated components, such as heating and cooling systems, electrical wiring, plumbing, a roof, siding, windows … you get the idea. No matter how observant you are, you’re probably not qualified to perform an assessment of all those items before you commit to the purchase.

However, a licensed home inspector can give you a pretty good picture of the overall condition of the house and its parts. Armed with a report from a qualified inspector, you can make a better-informed decision about your purchase of a home. You can proceed with the transaction as planned, ask the seller to make some repairs or concessions, or terminate the sales contract.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visual examination of the structure and systems of your home. A typical inspection covers the electrical, heating, and air-conditioning systems; plumbing; roof; interior walls and ceilings; insulation; windows; doors; fireplace and chimney; appliances; and foundation. It may include septic systems, swimming pools, and hot tubs, but you’ll want to verify that before you hire an inspector. Keep in mind that if an inspector cannot access an area, such as a very steep roof, he will not be able to inspect it.

Timing is everything

You will want to contact a home inspector right after you sign a purchase contract. That way, you can schedule the inspection before the contract’s termination option period expires. This approach enables you to follow up on any problems uncovered by the inspector. And if you find something you can’t live with, you’re within your rights to terminate the contract without penalty.

The time to find an inspector, though, is before you sign a contract on a house. Make sure you identify at least two inspectors in case one is unavailable. Ask friends and family and your Texas Realtor for their inspector recommendations and follow up with some research of your own.

Ask questions

Once you settle on some potential inspectors, ask them questions about their services. Here are some suggestions: What is your fee?

What will the inspection include? (Ask for a list of items that are included and excluded.) How long will the inspection take, and can I attend it? (Be wary of an inspector who does not want you around.) What type of training and licenses do you hold? (Make sure he is licensed in Texas.) Will you provide a written inspection report? How do you inspect the roof? Will you provide a list of references? If repairs are made based on your initial inspection, is there an additional fee to have you re-inspect the house?

Talk to a specialist

A home inspector’s job is to find problems, not fix them. If your inspector finds a problem with a house’s wiring, call an electrician. You can get an estimate of the cost and severity of the repair and decide how to proceed with your purchase. Watch out for any inspector who finds a plumbing problem and immediately tells you that he’s a licensed plumber.

You may want a specialist to further inspect a questionable item. For instance, if your inspector notes problems with the foundation, you’d be wise to get an opinion from a structural engineer.

Speaking of specialists, your Texas Realtor can advise you on the timing of your home inspection and answer any questions you have about the termination option in your contract.

It is unlikely that you will find a home without any problems, even newly constructed ones typically have flaws, but a home inspection can make you a better-informed homebuyer. Once you know the condition of your dream house, you and your Texas Realtor can discuss how to proceed.

For more information or to find a Texas Realtor, visit ArlingtonRealtor.Com or