Getting your future Austin home inspected is an integral part of the buying process. A home inspector may uncover issues that could make you ask for repairs, renegotiate the price, or back out of the contract. We'll help you understand what home inspections entail for resale and brand new homes.
Scheduling and Pricing
We encourage you to hire a professional Austin home inspector once you are under contract to purchase a home. On our Preferred Vendors page we have a list of inspectors we've worked well with in the past from which you can choose, or visit the Texas Real Estate Commissions' website for a more comprehensive list of professional Austin Home Inspectors.
Obtaining an inspection is part of your due diligence as a home buyer. We want you to be aware of problems before - rather than after - you own the home. Of course, you should be aware that a home inspection is not exhaustive - some issues may be left undiscovered - but having an inspection will certainly provide more information about the property than forgoing this step.
Inspections are ideally scheduled within the option period* to allow the buyer time to review the inspector's findings before committing to the purchase. Typically the home buyer is not on the property while the inspection is taking place, since most home inspections take several hours. Instead, the home buyer will meet the inspector and their Realtor on the property afterwards to review the inspector's findings. The inspector will prepare a formal report and submit it to the buyer within a day or two after the inspection meeting.
The price of a home inspection is based on the size and age of the home, as well as any special inspection items such as a pool, sprinkler system, termites, and septic system. We typically see clients paying between $450-$650 for a thorough home inspection.
Austin area home inspectors are trained to search for visual and structural problems in and around homes. In Texas, these professionals abide by the Standards of Practice and Rules Governing Inspectors held by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Listed below are most of the Commission’s minimum inspection requirements.
- Foundation: The inspector will look for cracks, differing grades, erosion, water pooling and the efficiency of the foundation's drainage.
- Roofing Materials: Skylights, evidence of water penetration and the roof's materials will all be noted.
- Roof Structure and Attic: The attic's ventilation, insulation, degree of completion and ease of access will be reported.
- Interior and Exterior Walls, Ceilings, Floors, and Doors: Here, the inspector wants to make sure there are efficient escape routes available to residents and that there is no water penetration.
- Porches, Balconies, Decks, and Carports: Generally, the home inspector makes sure that all porches, balconies, etc. have sure footing, guardrails and were constructed properly.
- Heating, Cooling and Electrical Equipment: Electrical panels should all be grounded, insulated and not placed in a hazardous location, e.g. the bathroom. The inspector will also make sure that your AC and heating equipment each have functioning units, valves, coils, and thermostats, and that they are not corroded in any way.
- Plumbing Systems: When it comes to plumbing, inspectors will look for deficiencies such as leaks and the lack of water pressure and water supply to showers and sinks. They will also check for drippy faucets and cranky commodes.
- Appliances: The appliance inspection is relatively thorough. Deficiencies from the home's stove, dishwasher, food waste disposal, range exhaust vent, oven and microwave oven, trash compactor, garage door operators, doorbell and dryer vents - just to name a few - will be included in the final report.
There are some features of a home that may not always be covered by a regular home inspection. When buying a home with a pool, septic system or potential termite damage, we strongly encourage our clients to have these special features checked by an independent, licensed inspector. Problems with these features can be hard to spot if you don't have a trained eye. Uncovering potential problems through special inspections before closing can save a buyer from expensive repairs in the future.
Termites are one of the most common household pests. Since these insects eat wood from the inside out, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of an infestation if you're not familiar with them. When buying a home, a termite inspection is almost always required. We always recommend that our clients hire a licensed termite inspector to inspect a home before buying. An inspector can identify current and past termite damage in a home as well as hazards that could encourage an infestation. Buyers can also ask the seller for a history of termite infestation in the home during the inspection process.
After the Inspection
Once the inspection is complete and the home buyer has a good understanding of the inspection report, the agent helps the buyer determine the significance of the inspector's findings and prepares a list of any necessary repairs. If the inspection report uncovers standard issues, we may advise that our client ask the seller to repair the items before closing. If more significant issues are uncovered, the buyer can either back out of the contract, ask for repairs to be made, or ask the agent to help them renegotiate the contract to reflect the home's deficiencies. Having a home inspection provides peace of mind to the buyer and helps uncover problems with the home that could result in costly repairs for the new owner.
We strongly encourage purchasers of newly constructed homes to get a licensed, objective professional to perform an inspection before purchase. Although the home's structure and materials may be brand new, the practice of builders using their own biased inspectors is not.
For those building a brand new home, your builder will have inspections along the way. These inspections include foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and heating systems (HVAC), insulation, and final inspections. We encourage clients who are building to have a Pre-Drywall Inspection, which provides a thorough, visual report of the "bones" of the home before the sheetrock goes up, an important step that's not available to inspectors for completed or resale homes. In addition, we encourage our clients to have an independent final inspection before closing so that any issues uncovered can be addressed before closing.
For our home buyers who choose not to have construction phase inspections, we encourage them to hire an independent inspector before the end of the home builder's warranty period. A homebuyer's builder's warranty will cover repairs needed within the first year (though some structural and foundation warranties are much longer on new homes). Our clients have found that this inspection typically generates a list of items for the builder to coordinate and repair, the cost and effort of which outweighs the cost of the inspection.
*Option Period: The amount of time negotiated in the contract in which the buyer can cancel the contract for any reason. Typically, the option period is 7 days, and the buyer pays a nominal fee (e.g. $200 or more) for the right to cancel.