Ask the Home Inspectors: Frequently asked questions

By Gabe Semenza and Joe Hanselka
June 6, 2012 at 1:06 a.m.

Buying a home can be an exciting, rewarding and hectic time, no doubt.

By the time you get to the home inspection, your head likely is filled with paint color schemes, images of paperwork and ever-looming deadlines.

On top of that, you will have plenty of questions about the home you want to buy. This month, we answer a few of the questions we most regularly receive.

1) Did the house pass the inspection?

It's important to remember that real estate inspectors do not offer "pass" or "fail" grades following a home inspection. A home inspection is simply an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors.

We examine the home in its current condition so you can make an informed decision, better negotiate with the seller and understand the components and systems that might need repair or replacement. You are not required to act in any way based on our findings.

Remember, though, a few lenders require certain deficiencies to be fixed before you can close on the home.

2) When do I check the .

Because a home has so many systems and components, we regularly receive questions about the frequency of certain maintenance. Here's a good rule of thumb: Twice a year when you change your clocks - whether it's to spring forward or fall back - check or replace key components. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Clean your gutters and any other debris on your roof. Check to make sure GFCI-protected receptacles work properly.

Also, turn off and on shutoff valves under kitchen sinks, bathroom vanities, toilets and at your water heater. This helps to ensure the valves do not become stuck in the "on" position. Shutoff valves that are not regularly rotated can become jammed by sediment and corrosion, and thus not work when you need to turn the water supply off to certain outlets in the home.

Keep in mind that if you have not done this regularly, turning a valve off and on can create a drip or leak at the valve stem.

3) Are home inspection standards less strict for homes in the country?

No. When you hire a real estate inspector, he or she must inspect the home based on standards set by the Texas Real Estate Commission - regardless if the home is in the countryside or city. Oftentimes, building permits are not required for country-built homes, and municipal inspectors are not onsite for each phase of construction.

Still, if you buy or sell a country home, know the inspector you hire will examine it the same as any other.Gabe Semenza, TREC Lic. No. 20,326, is owner of Semenza Inspections. Joe Hanselka, TREC Lic. No. 1,166, is owner of Crossroads Inspection Services, and Semenza's professional sponsor. If you have questions about inspections, contact the real estate inspectors at 361-676-1480 or 361-576-6429 respectively.



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