Podcast: Season 4 Episode 5 – Beyond The Basics: Why You Should Consider a Specialty Inspection

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Season 4, EP. 5 – Podcast Transcript: Beyond The Basics: Why You Should Consider a Specialty Inspection


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 (Transcribed by TurboScribe.ai – Go Unlimited to remove this message) [Brian] Hello, and welcome to the House Fluent Inspections Podcast. I’m Brian. And I’m Tony. And we’re here today to talk about the home inspection industry and provide you tips and tricks to maintain your home. Today we are going to talk about specialty inspections. [Tony] Awesome, one of my favorite topics. [Brian] Well, good. I’m glad. So, Tony, what are specialty inspections? [Tony] Well, specialty inspections are for different components that might be at a home that aren’t a part of your basic home inspection necessarily. It could be anything from a sewer camera inspection, a pool and spa inspection, possibly a chimney inspection. [Brian] Septic systems. [Tony] Septic systems, water wells. So those are things that we cover, that we inspect. [Brian] Yeah, well, some of that we inspect. But in Texas, you might also hear these sometimes called optional inspections or optional systems, right? Amazingly, or surprisingly, I should say, your landscape irrigation system is actually considered an optional inspection. That’s true. So in Texas, right, the Real Estate Commission regulates our inspections and they sort of tell us what things are included in a standard home inspection and which things are extra. [Tony] Correct. [Brian] And the things we’re going to talk about today are all extra. [Tony] Right. And they still have standards according to TREC, right? [Brian] Yeah. [Tony] Once we get off into that, there’s a certain thing that we have to at a minimum do. Right. We often go beyond that, but we’re definitely going to cover those standards. [Brian] Yeah, for sure. And the first thing I think really to talk about with a specialty inspection is that whoever you get to do that inspection really needs to be competent in what they do, right? Whether that’s a specialty plumbing inspection or a pool and spa inspection, or even as you mentioned, a chimney inspection. [Tony] Yeah. [Brian] Make sure whoever you get has got the right level of experience. If they need a certification for that particular system, make sure that they have it, those types of things. Correct. So the first one I think I want to talk about, because we do these, and I would encourage anybody, especially if you’re buying an older home, to have this done, is a sewer camera inspection. Right. So Tony, you want to talk about that? Sure. [Tony] What is a sewer camera inspection? We’ll go in through your cleanouts, and we’ll locate those in your yard. We’ll have both a sewer lateral and a drain lateral, so that’s the main lateral that goes from your house to the sewer system for the city, or a septic system. Yes. So we will take our camera, and we’ll make a video, and we’ll go from one way as far as we can under your home to your drain in your master shower, say, and the other one will go from that cleanout all the way to the sewer. Along the way, we make a video, and we’ll stop and take snapshots to include in the report of anything we might see in that video. [Brian] Yep. So I get asked this a lot about sewer camera inspections. Is this going to check for leaks in my plumbing system? Oh no. So this is the system that keeps the stuff rolling downhill. Correct. It is not the stuff that supplies the water to your house. [Tony] Right. It’s different for sure, and if it’s not rolling downhill, you might want to have that checked out for sure. [Brian] I’m going to back you up for a second, too, because I do get asked this sometimes. Not always. A lot of people do know what cleanouts are, but maybe you could describe what a cleanout is and why we use those to actually put the camera in. [Tony] Well, yeah. The cleanouts are to get access to do exactly that, to inspect your drain system for your home. [Brian] And to clean it out if it gets clogged, right? [Tony] Or clean it out. Yeah, a plumber would do something like that. So preferably you have two cleanouts so you can go both directions, under the house and towards the sewer system. In older homes, sometimes that’s a bit of a challenge. They’re not always there or there’s just one. And it’s always good to… Or they’re under the house. Or they’re under the house, yeah, in a crawl space or a basement. And just even in newer homes, this is just something I run across, is where they plant that bush right in between two of them or right next to it, you know, and I’m spending time… [Brian] Please stop doing that, people. Try to locate… Especially the big spiky bushes. [Tony] Yeah. Not fun. [Brian] Not fun. [Tony] Yeah, I’ve been stabbed before for sure. But yeah, those are the cleanouts. Sometimes you can find them on the side of a home. [Brian] Can I make a suggestion? Sure. Instead of a bush. Fake rocks. [Tony] Yeah. Oh, yeah. So it’s like, oh, this is a fake rock. Let’s just pull this up. There they are. [Brian] There they are. [Tony] Yeah. That would be great. Definitely saves us time. So those are there. Sometimes they’re on the roof. But we access those, put the camera in, take a good look at everything. And we’re looking for different things, older pipes, breaks. Prior repairs. Yeah, prior repairs, root intrusions, blockages. Bellies. Bellies in the pipe. [Brian] So I get asked about bellies a lot. What exactly is a belly? [Tony] So that’s where there’s a lower spot in the pipe so water’s collecting there. You’ll see it in the video. It’s going to cover the camera. It’s like you’re underwater here. And so basically it’s not flowing out like you would like it to. [Brian] So it’s basically when your pipe develops a dad bot. Yeah. [Tony] Right. Absolutely. It’s got a belly on it. [Brian] Yeah. So when you have a belly, things can collect in there. So you’ve got a little whoop-de-doo, a dip. And because your sewer system does drain with gravity, if you have a dip, things will stay in the dip. It’s going to roll down. The water will roll down and up. But the solids may not have enough force to kind of get down and back up. [Tony] Yeah. And we’ve seen it before where we’ve talked to homeowners where they’ve had something of that belly going on. And under the right circumstances, it might be fine for a lot of times. But under certain circumstances, water is running upstairs in the kid’s bath and the kitchen and the dishwasher is going and somebody didn’t flush this toilet all the way or whatever. And then things start backing up because they’ve collected in the belly right there. [Brian] That’s right. Yeah. [Tony] And we’ve actually seen that. Yeah. So there’s that. Also, if you have an older home or you have large trees out in the front yard, another really good reason to look through your sewer pipes because roots will tend to go towards the water and they can do things to pipes that aren’t good. And a lot of times that’s at the seam where the pipes fit together. [Brian] Yeah. Oftentimes, right? More times than not. [Tony] Yeah. [Brian] We’ll see it coming in where the two pipes come together. And even though they are glued, eventually those tree roots can sort of work their way in. Oh, yeah. And some trees are actually worse than others when it comes to this. [Tony] Right. [Brian] Things like willows. Okay. Yeah. Certain types of pear trees, things like that tend to be more intrusive than other types of trees. Another type of sort of specialty inspection, at least that we do, is a pool and spa inspection. Yeah. So you want to talk about that for a minute? What is a pool and spa inspection? [Tony] Well, I mean, it’s just that. I mean, it’s more than just the pool and spa. It’s really the backyard, the enclosure, the safety, the electrical system for the pool equipment. Not only how is the pool and the spa functioning, but how is it cleaned? [Brian] You know, whether. [Tony] You don’t do that by just doing a cannonball? Right. That’s at the end. [Brian] Oh, that’s at the end. [Tony] Right before I go home. That would be a sight. Now, yeah. So, I mean, we really. It’s so much more that we do there for your safety, you know. [Brian] Yeah. [Tony] And there’s a lot of things you need to look at to make sure that pool is safe for little children. Electrically, no one’s going to get shocked. Drains, you want to make sure the drains are set up properly or be aware of what you’re getting into. Because older, I mean, just like everything, the pool used to be installed 30 years ago, you know, one way. And now today’s standards, there’s a lot. Yeah, we’ve learned a lot over the years. So, you know, you want to look at all those things. And additionally, the decking around the pool, you know, has that settled? Is water seeping underneath the decking? Are the drains working properly, you know? And the pool cleaning equipment, if you have a robot swimming around out in that pool, you know, what condition is that in? Because those can be quite costly if you have to, you know, buy a new pool cleaning system, right? [Brian] Yeah. And pools can be so widely varied in terms of how they’re set up, the types of controllers. The technology now is getting, you know, I would say better and better, but also more wirelessly engaged, right? Yeah. While you can, at least at this point, still run all of them manually, right? You can put it in service mode, which is how we inspect it. At some point, we may get to the place where, you know, it just all runs off your phone and you don’t worry about it. [Tony] We’ve seen that where somebody had to come home and run the pool for us. [Brian] Yeah, for sure. The other thing I was going to mention about pool inspections is that they are very detailed, and you really want somebody that’s certified as a swimming pool operator and inspector. And it’s really important that they understand how to operate the equipment and what they’re looking at. Sometimes pools can be really sophisticated and valves can move on their own and things like that as you’re moving, for example, from the pool mode to the spa mode or to the waterfall mode. And sometimes they’re as simple as you go outside and you literally flip a switch and you turn a valve to say, nope, I want it to drain or no, I don’t. Right? It’s really sometimes that simple and sort of everything in between. You’ve got salt cells, you’ve got bromine, chlorine, chlorine feeders, you’ve got manual chlorination, you’ve got ozone generators, right? All these things. And so having somebody that’s been certified that knows what they’re looking at, that can really inspect it in a way that needs to be inspected, not just from an equipment perspective, but looking at the pool shell, looking at the decking, looking at, as you mentioned, the electrical system, the lighting, all those things. Those are all key components of your pool. And then as you mentioned, there are also the barrier issues. And that’s probably one of the places we see a lot of problems. People just don’t think about it. [Tony] Right. You have to have the gates moving in the correct direction with springs on them. They should latch properly. The heights should be a standard of more than what, four feet? And then they can’t be climbable. So a lot of times the pickets need to be facing the correct direction, which would be towards the outside. A lot of people want the pickets on the inside because it looks maybe nicer, but that’s the incorrect way to build a fence. And that’s it. I think you just got to make sure that little children can’t get into your backyard easily and get trapped in there and then somehow get in the pool and something bad happens. [Brian] Yeah. So let’s move on to your favorite topic, Tony. The third type of specialty inspection we’re going to talk about today, wood destroying insects, insects, insects. [Tony] Yeah. Oh, I love that so much. Yeah. No, WDI are wood destroying insects. Then that’s, you know, really important to do, especially on much older homes or even homes more than five years old, possibly, you know, I think at some point in time, you know, there’s a point that you’re susceptible to termites entering your home. [Brian] Yeah. North, North Texas is pretty well known for termites. [Tony] Right. [Brian] I would say too, that it’s important to realize this is a wood destroying insect inspection. So it’s more than just termites. That’s what people think about, right? People think about that. It’s sort of the primary thing that, that comes to mind, but there are also carpenter bees, carpenter ants, wood boring beetles, all sorts of things to consider when you’re looking at a wood destroying insect inspection. I want to start though, because you mentioned it. Why, why wouldn’t it be important to get a termite or a WDI inspection on a brand new home? [Tony] Well, because it should be pre-treated during construction. [Brian] It should be. [Tony] Yeah, it should be. Now that might be hard to verify. Verify that. For sure. You know, yeah, I treated it. Often it’s done in different ways, but a lot of time it’s done, you know, before they put up the, the, the, the, the sidewalls in the, in the outside cladding and things like that, they’ll treat. [Brian] At some point though, just like anything else over time, that repellent wears off, right? Right. And then it is important to get a wood destroying insect inspection. Now in Texas, that’s a regulated inspection. And it’s not regulated by the real estate industry. It’s actually regulated or real estate commission, I should say. It’s actually regulated by the agriculture department. [Tony] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So you have to definitely pass the course, pass the test, you know, get your license, go through all the paperwork and the continuous training, continuing education with the state. [Brian] So because it’s, it’s regulated by the agriculture department and not the real estate commission, that means you don’t necessarily have to have this done by a home inspection company. Correct. But if you do have it done by a home inspection company, make sure they have that, that WDI license, right. Make sure that they have that. I think it’s called a technician license. If they have a company, a pest control company is holding their license or an applicator license, if they’re independent. Correct. [Tony] Yes. Yes. I was an applicator for a while, but then now I’m just a technician, which is the way I prefer it for sure. [Brian] Less paperwork. [Tony] Yeah. Yeah. So the, I mean the WDI primarily we see where we’re looking for termites. I think a lot of times they come from the ground here. We’re going around the outside of the home, but also the inside of the home and cabinets and areas where there’s penetrations through the foundation and whatnot are, are underneath the home and the crawl space looking around. Oftentimes I say oftentimes, well, there’s, there’s been times where I see previous termite damage in there, under there, under the home. [Brian] Yeah, it’s pretty common actually. [Tony] But one thing that we like to do is look around the outside, make sure that we can see all the wee poles around the foundation. So it’s always good to make sure that, you know, you’re, you’re, your soil’s not up over the brick line where the wee poles are located. Yeah. [Brian] So that’s a good point, right? So a good quality wood destroying insect inspection is going to look at a lot more than just, do I have bugs? It’s going to give you a good picture of something called conducive conditions. And those are conditions around your home that could attract a wood destroying insect or be an attractant for them. Or it could be a condition around your home that could hide them pretty easily, right? Or they’re difficult to see. The other thing with conducive conditions, or I should say the other thing with a good wood destroying insect inspection is it should give you a good sense of how to cure those. What, okay. The remedy. Yeah, it’s great that I have this condition, but what do I do about it, right? Like that’s just as important. You know, I think, you know, look for those things, ask questions of any inspection company that, that you’re considering having come out and do this and make sure it’s not just, Hey, I’m going to check and see if you have bugs and put a sticker under the sink. Right. Right. Make sure you’re getting a good quality inspection. Tony, maybe you could explain what conducive conditions are in a little more detail. Maybe describe a few of them. I get asked a lot. What, what does that mean? What are conducive conditions? [Tony] Well, I mean, it could be a damp, wet area where wood is going to rot. And so rotted, damp wood would be something that termites. [Brian] I don’t, I don’t want termite bait on my house. [Tony] Yes, there that’s what they’re looking for. [Brian] That’s a good meal. [Tony] Yeah, that’s a good meal for them. So, you know, you see those areas in, in, so there’s, there’s a wood board that they’ll put between the pads for your AC unit sometimes and the foundation of your home, you know, and over time that could definitely become termite bait, you know, for sure. You see those sometimes also at the garage where the driveway, the garage meet or your front porch or back porch. Those, those are definitely ones there that you need to be aware of. You can always correct that, you know, with some other material besides wood. [Brian] The easiest one to deal with as far as conducive conditions go is the shrubs around your home. So way more often than not people, I mean, let’s face it, we’re lazy creatures, right? We don’t like to work. You know, it’s hard enough to get out and mow the grass every day, much less trim the bushes back. But when they are growing into your house and they’re growing into the siding and things like that, those are places that insects can hide. They can get into, you know, actually into your wall that way without being seen. And they love to hide. They love those hidden places, those inside corners, places where they, you know, they can just be undisturbed and do their thing. And so make sure you’re trimming those bushes back. Keep them a good foot from the side of your house. Okay. [Tony] Yeah. And the other one that just briefly is everyone has a wooden fence just about that touches the side of their home. [Brian] Yeah, no, we don’t do it. [Tony] But that’s not something that you’re going to necessarily change or move. [Brian] No, probably not. But it’s definitely an area that you want to keep an eye on. And if the pickets are touching the ground and touching your house, that’s just an easy path for them to come up. So a lot of times we’ll see them actually, they’ll put a board, they’ll usually, you know, attach a board to the side of your house. Not always, sometimes they have a post, but many times they’ll attach a board to the side of your house. A lot of times what they’ll do is they get between that board and your wall. And unless you’re really looking, you won’t, you won’t see it. [Tony] There’ll be a tube, a termite tube between the two. So that’s a good place to watch and monitor. Just keep an eye on it because you’re not going to take your fence down. [Brian] And then, you know, getting, getting a good termite or WDI inspection every year or two is not a bad idea around here. Nope, not at all. And you can get those at housefluent.com. That’s right. We’ll come out and do that for you. [Tony] Stand alone. [Brian] That’s right. Yeah, we’ll be, we are an independent third party. So when we come out and do those types of inspections, we’re not trying to sell you a termite treatment. We’re not trying to, to do those things. We’re just going to give you an independent assessment and let you know, you know, kind of what, what we’re finding, what we’re seeing. Sure. [Tony] Okay. [Brian] So Tony, there are some other types of specialty inspections. In fact, you can get specialty inspections on just about anything you can think of. You can have a company come out and literally measure the elevation of every point on your floor, right? Oh, yeah. So those, those types of inspections can be done. Individual system inspections like roofing inspections, electrical inspections, plumbing inspections. You can have hydrostatic testing. You can have all these things that, that are sort of specialty inspections. We don’t necessarily do those things. If you are interested in those things, we’re happy to help you find professionals that can, they can help you with those. Some are more important than others, especially when you’re buying a home. And generally with most of these inspections, unless you’re buying a home that, you know, you already know it has a pool, for example, or you know you want to get a termite inspection when you’re buying the home. Generally, if there’s something else you need, that might be a specialty type inspection. Usually we, when we come out and do the general home inspection, we’ll tell you, hey, you know, you might want to consider having this other thing done, right? A good example of that is testing your backflow prevention valve. That’s not something we do. It would be considered a specialty inspection. Those are things, other things that, that sort of are available. If there’s something you think you need, you can always call us. We’re happy to just talk to you about it and see if it’s something that we can do, or maybe refer out to you. [Tony] We can do that right on, which is not very common, but I mean, some people have called wanting mold testing, or a backflow valve for, like you mentioned, for the sprinkler system, which that you have to have a special license just to do that. So, yeah. [Brian] So, Tony, how would you wrap this up? What would you say about specialty inspections? [Tony] That they’re important, and we can help guide you with our general inspection and say, look, you might need to have this looked at by a professional. We don’t do it. We can help you find the correct professional to do that properly. And so, they’re important in the home buying process, for sure, at times. [Brian] All right. Well, we want to thank everybody for listening today. We appreciate your time, as always, and we appreciate you. If you like what you’re hearing, subscribe, comment, share it. That’s sharing. It’s awesome. Share it. Hit that share button. Send it to somebody. You can find us at housefluent.com, all the social channels. We’re YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, all of them. Except, well, we’re not on TikTok, I don’t think. We’re not TikTokers yet. [Tony] Okay. All right. That’ll be fun. [Brian] Yeah. You can also find us at housefluent.com for all of your inspection needs. We’re pretty much accessible everywhere. So, Tony, it looks like maybe a rainstorm tonight. [Tony] I know. (Transcribed by TurboScribe.ai – Go Unlimited to remove this message)

Brian Botch

Brian Botch

Brian is the owner of House Fluent Inspections and is licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission as a professional real estate inspector (TX License # 22824 ). In addition, he is certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation as a Certified Pool Inspector.

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