This inspection is governed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) Standards of Practice (SOPs), which dictates the minimum requirements for a real estate inspection.
The inspector IS required to:
- use this Property Inspection Report form for the inspection;
- inspect only those components and conditions that are present, visible, and accessible at the time of the inspection;
- indicate whether each item was inspected, not inspected, or not present;
- indicate an item as Deficient (D) if a condition exists that adversely and materially affects the performance of a system or component OR constitutes a hazard to life, limb or property as specified by the SOPs; and explain the inspector’s findings in the corresponding section in the body of the report form.
The inspector IS NOT required to:
- identify all potential hazards;
- turn on decommissioned equipment, systems, utilities, or apply an open flame or light a pilot to operate any appliance;
- climb over obstacles, move furnishings or stored items;
- prioritize or emphasize the importance of one deficiency over another;
- provide follow-up services to verify that proper repairs have been made; or inspect system or component listed under the optional section of the SOPs (22 TAC 535.233).
The responsibilities of the inspector can briefly be described as follows:
The entire home inspection process is regulated by the TREC. Education, professional conduct & ethics, licensing, insurance requirements, enforcement, advertising, the property inspection report form, and the Standards of Practice all fall under the purview of the Texas Real Estate Commission. The Commission’s programs and industry regulation ensure that real estate service providers are honest, trustworthy, and competent.
The inspector is required to use the TREC promulgated for REI 7-6. The required form (REI 7-6) follows a very specific format and has its own set of rules. This is done for consistency across the board to both consumers and licensees.
Only present, visible, accessible items will be addressed. Home inspections are non-invasive in that inspectors do not make holes in walls, lift carpet, climb over obstacles, move personal belongings etc.
The inspector will indicate the status of each item by checking the appropriate boxes in the form, as to whether each item was inspected, not inspected, or not present.
The inspector must check the Deficient (D) box if a condition exists as described in the responsibilities. General deficiencies include inoperability, material distress, water penetration, damage, deterioration, missing components, and unsuitable installation.
The inspector will also explain his findings in the corresponding section in the body of the report form. Informational comments may be provided by the inspector even if an item is not deemed deficient.
The inspector IS NOT required to identify all potential hazards. While the report may address certain safety concerns it is an important reminder that it is not a safety/code inspection, and no action is required on any findings.
The inspector IS NOT required to make any item ready for inspection. Lighting pilot lights, turning on water or gas at the meter, operating certain valves, etc. as there may be unknown safety/liability reasons that these items have been decommissioned.
The inspector IS NOT required to climb over obstacles or move any personal items. Inspector safety is an important issue but more importantly we are uninvited guests at the property and must respect the personal property of the owner.
The inspector IS NOT required to notate any deficiency as better or worse than another. However, some inspectors like ourselves may provide a Summary Report which highlights potential health, safety, or major expense items.
The inspector IS NOT required to perform follow-up services. However, while there is no requirement for inspectors to provide services to verify that any negotiated repairs were properly completed, most inspectors offer re-inspection services (for a fee) to verify repairs or inspect items that were not accessible at the time of the original inspection. At minimum, it is a good idea to obtain any receipts for repairs should the need arise to speak to any of the repairpersons in the future. These receipts will also be crucial should a claim ever be filed with a home warranty provider as they will want proof that any deficiencies noted in the inspection report were addressed or they may view the claim as a “known” pre-existing condition and deny the claim.
The inspector IS NOT required to inspect any item listed under Optional Systems in the report form. These items include sprinkler systems, swimming pools/spas/hot tubs, outbuildings, private water wells, private sewage disposal systems, and other built-in appliances. If an inspector chooses to inspect these items, they must do so in accordance with the Standards. Be sure to inquire if there is an additional fee for the inspection of any of these items.
You may have noticed the wording “IS NOT” has appeared quite a few times and I think that it’s important to put this in perspective. The TREC exists to “protect and serve the citizens of Texas,” and as such, the Standards create a balance between providing the client with enough information regarding the general condition of the property to minimize the risk in their buying decision with the limitations that are in place that help maintain the integrity of the Seller’s personal property and/or the safety of the Inspector as well as setting the proper expectations as to the limitations of the inspection process.
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