Is your inspection performed by a “Visual Only” Inspector?

I continually read in BB and other Blog posts that Inspectors are “Visual Only” in nature with reference to how they inspect. These comments generally come as a result of consumers’ bad experiences with Inspectors, or from other real estate professionals with a limited knowledge of inspections.  Most of this is derived by the various Standards of Practice (SOP) in use today, and are worth a review.  Each of the major SOP’s define the “Minimum” standards that an Inspector is to use on their inspections.  Each is listed here, with a link if you wish to read the entire SOP.

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) SOP required for use by licensed Texas Inspectors defines a real estate inspection as:

“A real estate inspection is a limited visual survey and basic operation of the systems and components of a building using normal controls and does not require the use of specialized tools or procedures.”

The two major National Inspection associations have similar wording.  The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) SOP does not carry a definition of inspect or inspection but does define the requirements that an Inspector shall:

“inspect readily accessible, visually observable, installed systems and components listed in these Standards of Practice.”

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (INACHI) SOP does provide a definition of a home inspection as:

“A Home Inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of a residential dwelling, performed for a fee, which is designed to identify observed material defects within specific components of said dwelling.”

If you read these three SOP’s you will also note that they also spell out many “limitations” and “disclaimers”.  These SOP’s do not require the Inspector to poke or prod for that potentially damaged wood (potentially considered destructive inspection techniques), and give them great latitude in determining what they will and won’t inspect and how they inspect it.  They are all written to allow an Inspector to come on site with nothing more than a screwdriver, flashlight, and small ladder to perform the inspection.  I suppose you are not going to get more “Visual Only” than that?

It should be noted though that none of these SOP’s disallow an Inspector to exceed these “Minimum” standards.  Inspectors may exceed these SOP’s to whatever degree they choose.  However many Inspectors will hide behind them in an effort to reduce their workload and time on site by performing only these “Minimum” requirements.  This translates to the many bad experiences consumers have with Inspectors, and the mistaken understanding by other real estate professionals as to what an inspection is, and what an Inspector’s responsibilities are.

So when you interview Inspectors for your real estate purchase or sale maybe one of the most important questions to ask is “Are you a visual only Inspector?”.

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!

PS Inspection & Property Services LLC is a full service home inspection and light commercial inspection company servicing the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  We strive to for the satisfaction of our customers in everything we do.  Our services offerings include:

Buyer home inspections
New Home Warranty Inspections
New Home Draw Inspections
Home Maintenance Inspections
Home Remodeling Inspections
Investor Inspections
Rental And Renter Inspections
Infrared Thermal Imaging Inspections
Energy Audit Inspections
Whole Inspections Or Inspections Customized To Your Needs

If you have an inspection need we can customize an inspection for it.  Please visit our main site at PS Inspection & Property Service LLC.

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4 Responses to Is your inspection performed by a “Visual Only” Inspector?

  1. Barry Adair says:

    Admin: You know “neither of us hides behind SOP” but I do have to manage client expectations, back down to reality.
    A property inspection is not a “cradle to grave” insurance policy for all that can go wrong with ownership. Stuff breaks down or wears out and does require maintenance. Inspections are only valid during the time onsite after that anything can and will happen over time and be directly reflected by how one maintains a property and the associated components.

    Also many of the Home Warranties are limited in their coverage and have numerous clauses, read the fine print.

    I’ll identify and report the “Big Ticket Items” as well as numerous other deficiencies or defects but obviously I won’t be able to identify all the things that may be wrong during the limited hours I’m onsite doing an inspection, especially in an occupied property.

    That’s why all of my clients are advised to do a final walk-through after all the owners’ possessions have been removed. Lots of things can or may impede visual or physical access the day of the inspection.

    What I do hope all consumers understand is that a “Quality Inspection” costs more than the few hundred dollars most read or hear about and yes interviewing inspectors that can furnish consumer protection and buyer due diligence should be the main concerns of every real estate transaction.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Barry,

    I’ve certainly worked enough inspections with you to say that you ARE NOT a visual only Inspector! 

    Yes client expectations can be a handful to manage.  One of the hardest is to help them to understand fully not only the service they purchase from us but how to measure its value with respect to other Inspector’s offerings and fees.  The current Texas Standards of Practice (SOP) do little to help this and more to make this task difficult.  Many consumers do not take the time to read the SOP, and for those that do most are confused by its wording, disconnected requirements, and overall lack of consistency.  Unfortunately for the consumer this makes it easy for the minimalist Inspectors to present their “Smoke and Mirrors” presentation.

    Given the present direction of our industry (direction as in regulation and leadership) all we can do is educate consumers and hope the word spreads among them.  It really is only through the passing of information from us to consumers, as well as consumer to consumer, that these issues can be solved.

  3. admin says:

    Hello Ron,

    Thanks for stopping by.  Your more than welcome to any information I can provide.  Sharing information is the key to a better place for all of us.

  4. admin says:

    Hello Gennie,

    This is the new WordPress Twenty Ten theme.  Check it out on the Word Press site.  I have made some changes to it though.