A/C condensation leaking onto the ceiling
Experiencing a problem that you just can’t get a handle on? Is the tile contractor blaming the plumber while the plumber says it’s a tile problem? Can’t figure out the source of those mysterious stains or the reason for the warped hardwood floors? Accurate diagnosis of the cause and assessment of the extent of the problem is essential in order to determine the most effective method of correction.
We have the tools and know-how to assess and diagnose many complex building problems and can bring in other specialists (e.g., Stucco and Indoor Air Quality experts), as appropriate, to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your problem. It is best to be armed with detailed root cause information before contacting repair contractors. We provide this service to both builders an homeowners.
Wood Destroying Insects
In Texas, only those business and individuals who hold the proper structural pest control Licenses issued by the Structural Pest Control Service under the Texas Department of Agriculture can perform structural pest inspections or identify infestations. We do not perform termite inspections, however, we will be happy to schedule one for you at the same time we are performing your home inspection.
You should be aware that any structure containing wood or cellulose material provides a natural food source for subterranean termites. Even structures that are mostly steel and concrete are vulnerable to termite attack. Some general conditions which are considered conducive to termite infestation include:
Subterranean termite colony
High soil levels at the foundation;
Firewood stacked against foundation;
Wood debris in crawl space;
Wood mulch [within 3 ft. of foundation];
Moisture in and around the home.
We strongly recommend to our home buying clients that even newer homes be inspected for wood destroying insects during the option period.
A wood destroying insect inspection involves the following. A licensed person will conduct a careful inspection to determine the presence or absence of visible evidence of infestation from wood destroying insects. The inspection will be made in those areas which are readily accessible and where an infestation is most likely to occur. No inspection is made in areas that require the breaking apart, or dismantling/removal of any objects. Therefore, it is not a warranty as to the absence of wood destroying insects. It is not a structural damage report. A wood destroying insect inspector is not ordinarily a construction or building trade expert, and therefore, is not expected to possess any special qualifications, which enable him to detect the extent of structural damage. Evidence of wood destroying insects is noted in the report.
Stucco, EIFS and Surface Adhered Finish Assessment
Detailed stucco work
Moisture penetration can be a major problem with conventional hardcoat stucco, surface applied stone & thin brick and EIFS (synthetic stucco) installations, especially in the Houston area with our subtropical climate, high humidity and rainfall levels. Moisture penetration in stucco finished wood frame construction can lead to wood rot of the substrate and framing members and can contribute to termite infestation, mold and indoor air quality issues.
Common areas of moisture penetration issues include flashings (especially where roof edges terminate next to a wall), penetrations, window/door openings, chimneys, deck and pergola attachments, accent attachments, soil contact and cracks.
Failed stucco at cantilever due to lack of moisture management
Our regular home inspections include visual examination of vulnerable areas for deficiencies or signs of water penetration in stucco homes. However, often times a more aggressive inspection process is called for. In these cases, it may be appropriate to utilize specialized methods and equipment such as infrared thermography and deep wall moisture detection probes.
While we generally don’t perform stand-alone stucco inspections, if you know or suspect that you may have a stucco moisture penetration issue in the home you own or are contemplating purchasing, we can set up an appointment or refer you to a trusted stucco inspection specialist for your visual or invasive (i.e., drill and probe) inspection needs.
Swimming Pool Inspections
A pool or spa can be a great enhancement to a home and can provide many hours of family fun and memories, especially in Texas where we have long pool friendly seasons. However, along with a pool or spa comes a great deal of responsibility. A pool or spa presents the homeowner with significant safety challenges, requires constant maintenance and can present costly repairs if maintenance is not kept up-to-date.
If you are purchasing a home with a pool or spa, we strongly recommend that you have it thoroughly inspected to ensure that it complies with required safety standards, that the pool finish, decking, plumbing, pumps, filters and controls are all in good condition and serviceable.
HomeCert, LLC does not perform pool and spa inspections, however, we will be happy to coordinate your pool inspection with a qualified, trusted provider so that your pool inspection will be performed at the same time as your home inspection.
Lawn irrigation Sprinkler Systems
In-ground lawn sprinkler systems consisting of a single controller and nine or fewer stations/zones can be inspected with your home inspection for no additional fee. Larger, more complex systems can also be inspected for a reasonable fee.
Guest House / Apartment Inspections
If your prospective home has a guest house or garage apartment, we are happy to inspect those for you in the same manner that we inspect the primary home (our observations will be incorporated into your inspection report). This is an optional, added cost service, so be sure to let us know at the time we quote your fee.
If your prospective home has one or more outbuildings, we can perform a basic inspection of the structure. We can also inspect any electrical, HVAC or plumbing systems associated with it. This is an optional, added cost service, so be sure to let us know at the time we quote your fee.
On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems
Approximately 25% of Texas homes are currently served by on-site wastewater treatment systems (i.e., septic systems). The percentage of new homes serviced by these systems is projected to be 37% as more residential housing is built in less densely populated areas. The vast majority of tank type systems (at least in this part of Texas) fall into one of two design categories: “conventional” or standard systems consisting of a tank with an underground pipe and gravel drain-field; Alternative Treatment Systems, which are typically Aerobic Treatment Units which utilize oxygen consuming bacteria for treatment and discharge effluent on the surface of the ground, usually via spray heads.
Regardless of the type of system used, on-site wastewater treatment systems do require regular maintenance to perform properly; they can and will fail if abused or not maintained. Unfortunately, a high percentage of systems are not well maintained, which can expose the owners to both health and financial risks.
If you are purchasing a home with an on-site wastewater treatment system, we strongly urge you to have the system thoroughly inspected by a qualified inspector during your option period. Although Texas does not require on-site wastewater treatment system inspections by law, it is in your best interest to have an experienced on-site professional perform the inspection. While any licensed Home Inspector can “inspect” your system there are only 2 National Certification programs for on-site wastewater system inspectors: the National Association of Wastewater Professionals (NAWT) and the Natl. Sanitation Foundation (NSF).
We generally don’t perform wastewater treatment system inspections (with certain exceptions), however, we can coordinate for you or refer you to a qualified, trusted, Texas Registered Professional Sanitarian.
Domestic Water Well Systems
Approximately 15 percent of Americans (8% of Texas homes) rely on their own private water wells for drinking water supplies, and these supplies are not subject to EPA standards, although some state and local governments do set rules to protect users of these wells. Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies.
If you are considering purchasing a home served by a private water well, we strongly suggest that you have the system thoroughly inspected and tested during your option period.
A basic water well system inspection should include:
Location and proximity to potential sources of contamination;
Identification of well and component types;
Examination of the condition of the accessible equipment;
Check for adequate pressure and flow;
Testing of water for biological, chemical and other contaminants.
HomeCert, LLC does not perform water well inspections, but we can help arrange to have a qualified inspector perform that service for you.
Sewer Scope & Hydro-Static Testing
Ancient Roman sewer
Underground plumbing systems obviously cannot be visually inspected during a regular home inspection. While the inspector runs a significant amount of water down the drains and watches closely for abnormal behavior, there is no way to actually verify the integrity or condition of the system from above. That’s where sewer scoping and hydro-static testing come in.
Sewer scoping, as you would imagine, involves running specialized camera gear through the sewer system of the house to “visually” inspect for defect from the inside. Hydrostatic testing involves placing a test ball in the line to stop the flow of water, then filling the drain line and monitoring for loss of water which would indicate a leak in the line. These two methods are often used in concert with each other.
Not every house warrants this kind of invasive inspection and testing, unless a problem is suspected, based on other indicators. However, many older Houston homes have cast iron or clay tile sewers, which are brittle and can wear and fail with age. We typically recommend this testing for these older homes as the cost of replacing the under-slab / under-ground plumbing can be quit prohibitive.
HomeCert inspections does not perform this service, however we can refer you to a trusted investigative plumber who specializes in this testing.