Common Home Inspection Issues in Houston

Did someone say termites?!

Inspection is a time when a buyer gets to really “look under the hood” of the home and gain a better understanding of the overall condition of the home. Inspection can also be a stressful time for a buyer (or Realtor), as certain issues can come as surprise to many buyers . Travis Kepp, a TREC licensed home inspector with Southern Star Inspections, visited ULR today to discuss common home inspection issues, as well as some initial things to keep an eye out for when initially viewing a home for purchase, to help limit the surprises during the formal home inspection. We had a great time, drank way too much coffee, and most importantly, learned a lot.

ULR Agents and Travis Kepp, Southern Star Inspections

Common Home Inspection Issues:

Check 1: First things first: On the initial viewing of the home, don’t forget to take a walk around the exterior of the home, this way you will make sure you don’t need an exterminator coming to your home. Make sure you are able to see the foundation (Travis says about 6 inches should be visible above the grade). Look for any large cracks along the foundation, or running along the exterior walls of the property. Scan the building for signs of termites or other insects. Termites typically leave a tunnel of dirt, so if you spot one of these (see below) you may need to have a termite inspector come take a look and prescribe treatment. Given Houston’s climates, termites are a common issue, so keep that in mind.

Visible termite tube on brick wall

Check #2: Take a glance at the A/C condenser unit (for those of us less than knowledgeable–the big metal box outside that is always making noise..). Check to see if it looks damaged, aged, or is obstructed by plants or shrubs as this could indicate less than optimum functionality. If the condenser isn’t outside on your initial walk around the home, it is most likely on the roof!

Check #3: If the roof is easily visible, eyeball it for buckling or waving in the shingles and roof line. This could indicate that a new roof is needed, but your home inspector will give you more information on that as well during the inspection.

Check #4: Once you walk into the interior of the home, look for large cracks on the walls, doors that won’t close property (misaligned) or windows that won’t shut/open, or wood/tile pops along the floor. This could mean that the house has shifted, and there could be foundation issues that need to be addressed. Hairline cracks are common, but larger cracks, or cracks that “step up” along the wall are red flags. What is a hairline crack you may ask? If you can ‘t fit a nickel into the crack, it is probably a hairline (cosmetic) issue. Also, look on the ceiling, walls and floors for evidence of moisture penetration (brown spots or warped wood or flooring).

Hairline crack in concrete

After your initial viewing of the home, if you decide to purchase, you will have time to have a full home inspection within your option period. During this inspection, a state-licensed home inspector like Southern Star, will come to the home and meticulously check everything from the foundation to the roof (and everything in between!) including appliances, water heaters, even light switches.

Water heaters can be very hard to repair, so if yours has been malfunctioning then make sure to get it serviced.

In preparation for your inspection, Travis recommends:

-Allow 3-4 hours for the inspection to occur.

-Try to schedule during optimal conditions (not extremely hot/cold or raining)

-At least be present for the final walkthrough so the inspector can point out his findings

-Don’t assume the worst! Most issues can be fixed, and all homes minor things (Travis has never seen a 100% perfect home inspection)
These are the top 3 issues that Travis encounters on any given inspection:
1. Exterior gaps and cracks need to be sealed (prevents moisture and insects from getting IN–keeps A/C and heat from getting OUT!).
2. High grading, mulch near foundation (could cause water penetration)
3. Electrical not to code (which doesn’t necessarily mean it is unsafe, but he will point this out)
Typically, you will get a full report (sometimes 30= pages!!) of the property and the inspection with pictures, and any/all issues clearly marked the same evening. Travis, and a lot of similar inspectors, are always available to ask specific questions based on the report in case you get confused!

Need a home inspector? Contact Travis at Southern Star Inspections

TREC #20608
Southern Star Inspections, LLC
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