This inspection is governed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) Standards of Practice (SOPs), which define the minimum requirements for a home inspection.
The inspector IS required to:
- Use the Property Inspection Report form – This form has a strict format and rules to ensure consistency for both clients and inspectors.
- Only inspect components and conditions that are present, visible, and accessible at the time of the inspection – Inspectors don’t perform invasive actions, like making holes in walls, lifting carpets, moving personal belongings, or climbing over obstacles.
- Indicate whether each item was inspected, not inspected, or not present – The inspector will use the checkboxes on the report form to indicate the status of each item – whether it was inspected, not inspected, not present, or deficient.
- Mark the Deficient (D) box if a condition affects the performance of a system or component or poses a hazard to life, limb, or property as specified by the SOPs – General deficiencies include inoperability, material distress, water penetration, deterioration, missing components, and unsuitable installation.
- Explain the findings in the corresponding section 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 – The report may mention safety concerns but it is important to remember that it is not a safety or code inspection.
- 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 shut off.
- Climb over obstacles or move any personal items – The inspector’s safety is an important issues but more importantly we are uninvited guests to the property and must respect the personal property of the owner.
- Prioritize or emphasize the importance of any deficiency as better or worse than another – Some inspectors, including ourselves, may offer a Summary Report that emphasizes issues related to health, safety, or expensive repairs.
- Provide follow-up services to verify proper repairs have been made – Inspectors are not required to verify if any negotiated repairs have been properly completed. However, they may offer re-inspection services (for a fee) to check the repairs or inspect inaccessible items from the initial inspection. It’s recommended to retain receipts for repairs as evidence in case you need to contact the repairpersons later. These receipts can also be valuable when filing a claim with a home warranty provider. The provider may require verification that any problems listed in the inspection report were resolved, or they may refuse the claim.
- Inspect any item listed under Optional Systems in the SOPs – These items include sprinkler systems, swimming pools/spas/hot tubs, outbuildings, private water wells, septic systems, and other built-in appliances. If an inspector chooses to inspect these items, they must do so in accordance with the SOPs. Be sure to inquire if there is an additional fee for the inspection of any of these items.
You may have noticed multiple instances of “IS NOT required to” in this discussion, and it’s important to understand why. The TREC’s purpose is to “protect and serve the citizens of Texas,” and the SOPs aim to strike a balance between providing clients with enough information about the property’s overall condition to reduce their risk, while respecting the limitations that protect the homeowner’s personal property and/or the inspector’s safety. It’s also essential to set realistic expectations about the inspection’s limitations.
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