Has your Home Inspector offered you a free alarm system inspection?

Are you getting ready to, or have you, selected your Home Inspector because of all of the supposedly free services the Home Inspector is offering as part of their fee, including that free alarm system inspection?  Well maybe you should think twice about using that Home Inspector as you are getting ready to be duped into a marketing program for alarm system companies!

[tab: What It Is And Is Not]

I will never cease to be amazed at the Home Inspectors out there offering these free services that are literally useless to you as a homeowner.  One of these supposedly free services is an inspection on the alarm system for the home you are getting ready to buy.  Lately I have been subjected to the trash mailings of the “New Kid On The Block” (I’ll call them “XYZ Security”) that is trying to sign me up to offer consumers this useless service.  I asked for copies of all of the materials to be used in this program from XYZ Security so that I can evaluate exactly what the program is and if it has any value to my clients.  XYZ Security would not provide me the full information package unless I signed up for their program first.  To sign up for their program I had to sign a lengthy secret agreement complete with the promise to use the secret handshake, never tell anyone else about the terms I just signed, accept and agree to use a specially issued decoder ring, and follow all of the secret procedures for the program.

Well I don’t really need all of their material to tell you what it actually is.  These programs are nothing more than a marketing program to get your contact information.  Afterward you will be badgered to no end by some company trying to sell you an alarm system or sell you the services of an alarm monitoring company.  In this particular program the company running the show does not even appear to be a Texas licensed alarm company, alarm system installer, alarm system consulting company, and appears to be nothing more than a marketing company that is brokering leads to other alarm installation and monitoring companies.  The chances are very high that once you give them your contact information they might even sell it to all manner of various other companies trying to sell you all types of junk services and products.

So how do they get your attention and literally sucker you into this?  Very easily by offering you other free things along with the free alarm inspection.  For example they might offer you some worthless 90 day warranty on the home you’re buying.  Of course the 90 day clock on that warranty most likely starts the day of your inspection, even though you are not even in the house yet and might not close for 30 – 60 days later.  They might also offer you some other supposedly valuable report.  They might even offer you some type of discount on the security system replacement or monitoring services.  Of course many security system companies are already offering free equipment and other discounts on monitoring services.  In effect they are not really offering you anything you can’t get yourself very easily or anything of real value!

One of the things that they are not going to tell you is what the Home Inspector is getting out of this program.  XYZ Security is offering Home Inspectors hundreds of dollars for clients that they refer to XYZ Security.  Your Home Inspector should be telling you specifically what they are receiving as a referral fee for you giving up your personal contact information.  Another important thing you need to understand is XYZ Security is requiring the Home Inspector to place special wording in their pre-inspection agreement contract that would force you to allow the Home Inspector to give your information away to a “Third Party Service Provider” and don’t even want their name in the contract.  XYZ Security also wants a copy of that pre-inspection agreement that will contain not only their required wording but any and all other private contract dealings between you and the Home Inspector.  That in itself is a major “NO NO” by the Texas State laws for Home Inspectors.  What is important though is that the extra wording they want you to agree to in the Home Inspectors contract literally gives them the right to sell your contact information to anyone in the world that will pay XYZ Security for it!

So now you know what it is, and in a nutshell it is nothing more than a marketing scheme to get your personal contact information.  So what is it not?  What it isn’t is that it is not an “Inspection”.  That is unless you call an inventory of the system in the home an inspection?  So what would constitute a proper “Inspection” of an alarm system?  A proper inspection of an alarm system should include:

  1. An inventory of the system to identify where all sensors are located, where the alarm panel is located, where the controlling keypads are, and if any other system in the home is connected to the alarm system i.e. any special alarms for say a heating and cooling system failure.
  2. Each sensor should be tested to ensure they are recognized at the alarm panel when the sensor is tripped and that the sensors themselves actually function.
  3. The alarm panel itself should be checked for proper operation to include:
    1. Primary and back-up power to the panel.
    2. Proper control of the panel from the keypads to arm and disarm the system, ensure that individual zones can be activated/deactivated as needed, and that any other special functions available at the keypad are identified and properly function.
    3. Proper communication from the alarm panel to its primary and secondary communications points, which is typically to the alarm monitoring company.  Since many systems possibly won’t be connected to a monitoring station then specialty test equipment will be needed to check this function.  If the systems are armed then the Home Inspector will need the codes and will need to coordinate with the alarm company.  That’s not about to happen as the homeowner won’t be giving those up to a Home Inspector!
  4. The installation and condition of all components of the system should be reviewed to ensure there is no damage or incorrect installation having occurred.
  5. The system as a whole should be evaluated to ensure that sufficient sensors are provided for a complete coverage of the home and that all blind spots or potential entry points are covered.

Now why do I say that what you are being offered is not a true “Inspection” of the system?  That is because the State of Texas requires that any person that performs maintenance, testing, or consultation on the condition and operation of an alarm system be licensed.  The license is controlled by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Private Security Bureau (PSB) division.  The laws and rules for who can perform what actions, as well as what licenses are required, can be found HERE.  The document you should view is  Chapter 1702 of the Occupations Code.  If you read these rules/laws you will see that anything beyond item 1 of the list above will require a license issued by the DPS/PSB.

So unless that Home Inspector also has a DPS/PSB controlled license then they certainly are not doing anything more than an inventory of your security system.  So let’s see what it is that that free security system inspection is providing as far as information to XYZ Security.  Remember this is just an inventory of marketing data for XYZ Security to use.

  • The address of the home which can be used to obtain a lot of detail about the home such as size, number of floors, value of the home, etc., etc.
  • Possibly number of exterior doors and windows.
  • What type of system is currently installed.
  • How many and what type of sensors are installed.
  • Obviously your name and contact information.

Without a doubt the that inventory is being provided to XYZ Security so they can use it to try and sell you more, or even an entire new system.  So if you run into a Home Inspector hawking this “Free security system inspection” what should you do?  Read on!

[tab: What You Should Do]

Well it is just my opinion but if you encounter one of these Home Inspectors offering this supposed “Free alarm system inspection” I have one significant piece of advice.  RUN, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN FROM THAT HOME INSPECTOR!! Any Home Inspector that is trying to entice you with such junk offerings as this certainly either does not have your best interest in mind or is plainly ignorant!  Any good Home Inspector would advise you that most alarm companies will be happy to come out and perform a proper system inspection for free.  They will also provide you with options to use what is there or provide estimates or free systems to replace what is there.  The alarm company can also provide a complete cost estimate for any work as well as the costs for the monitoring services.

What would be nice for consumers to do as well is to report that Home Inspector to the DPS/PSB for advertising and attempting to perform alarm system inspections without a license!  You can find a license look-up function, and links to complaint emails, at the DPS/PSB site HERE.  The only way that people without proper licenses can be stopped is if the consumers make their voices heard.  It would be nice if the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), who licenses Home Inspectors, would also take complaints via email.  Unfortunately they only take written complaints and you can read about it HERE.  If you are inclined to file one that is great because the Home Inspector laws prohibit an Inspector from performing a true alarm inspection unless they have a license.

So don’t get ripped off by these claims of a “Free alarm system inspection” with those other supposed free gifts to do it.  All you will get from it is grief in the form of one telemarketing call after another.  On top of that you won’t really know the condition of the system!

[tab: Links and References]

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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