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What to Ask Before Hiring a Home Inspector: An Interview with James Barfield of Barfield Home Inspections

By James Barfield

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

My company is Barfield Home Inspections and Pest Control, PLLC. We provide home inspections to people buying or selling homes or businesses buying commercial property. I am licensed as a Professional Real Estate Inspector and provide services for real estate inspections, Texas Real Estate Commission License #4935, residential building inspections in new construction and remodeling, International Code Council Residential Building Inspector license #5309208, Residential Property Inspections, Texas Department Of Insurance license #3610905963, On Site Septic Facility Inspections, National Wastewater Association of Transporters, License #112529, Water Well Inspections and Sampling, FHA, VA, and HUD Compliance Fee Inspections, ID #G788, and Energy Efficiency Audits, RESNET HERS Rater.

We also provide pest control services against all forms of household pests including termites. Texas Pest Control License #12734, Certified Applicator #43311.

What are the qualifications that home inspectors inTexas are required to have?

Professional Real Estate Inspectors in Texas are required to attend specialized classes in inspection and construction methods and perform inspections as an apprentice under sponsors approved by the TREC. Once the required amount of clases and experience is obtained, a test must be passed in order to be licensed. Once the license is obtained, the inspector must take 32 hours of continuing education classes every 2 years.

Are there any additional qualifications that home buyers/sellers should look for in a potential home inspector?

The things to look for in a home inspector are: 1. Experience. Home inspectors are licensed in Texas with a certification number. The lower the number, the longer the inspector has been licensed and should have more experience. Most full time inspectors will perform 2 to 3 hundred inspections per year. If the inspector is only working part time or has another unrelated line of work, this may not be enough to keep the inspector up to date or practiced on the inspection items.(My license number is 4935) 2. Insurance. Make sure the inspection company you choose carries liability and errors and omissions insurance. Ask for the type of insurance and the amounts of coverage. If you do this and the inspector is reluctant to share, it may be a bad sign. In Texas, inspectors are required to have a certain type and amount of coverage. 3. Active. Make sure the inspector carries an active inspection license by the TREC and has not been suspended or in on disciplinary action. 4. Price. Make sure the inspector is charging a fee that is comparable to other companies performing inspections. Call and get prices from several companies. 5. Recommendations. Ask the inspector for references from other inspections he has performed and from Realtors and lenders they have dealt with. 6. Availability. Choose an inspector that can perform the inspection on your schedule and not theirs. Most inspectors will work after normal business hours to do your inspection. 7. Time. Make sure to ask the inspector how long the inspection will take. Most inspections on an average sized home will take 2 or more hours depending on the age and size of the house. If you ask the inspector and they claim they can have you out of there in 30 minutes to an hour, you may want to stay clear of this one. 8. Accompany. A good inspector will ask that the clients accompany them during the inspection. Mainly because they want you to see first hand what they are seeing on the home and also to add an extra set of eyes to assist him during the inspection. Plus they will not have to explain the inspection but once if the clients are present when he presents his findings verbally at the conclusion of the inspection. 9. Additional Inspections. I recommend using an inspector that is licensed in multiple inspection types such as home inspections, swimming pools, septic systems, water wells, and termite or Wood Destroying Insect inspections. This proves the inspector is serious about their craft and provides the client with the convenience of paying one company for the inspections and may combine the different inspections into one report. 10. Report. Use an inspector that takes clear precise photographs of each item and is capable of adding the photos to the report. Also the report should be written in a manner that is easily understandable and doesn't fill the comments with engineering jargon that the average client will have a hard time understanding. The turn around time on delivery of the report should be considered also. If an inspector guarantees the report at the time of the inspection or within a few hours of the inspection, the comments will be items that are generalized and will not go into detail about locations or specific items. On the other hand, the delivery of the report should not take more than 3 days. If 72 hours has gone by without any word from the inspector, I would call to find out why you have not received the report. It is always a good idea to research the inspector by looking at their website and if possible a sample of the report.

Do all home inspections come with thermal imaging? Can you briefly explain why that's important?

Thermal imaging is a type of specialized inspection but can be used in a basic home inspection to locate areas of potential water leaks or cold spots in a house. However, most home inspectors do not use thermal imaging in a basic home inspection but choose to charge extra because of the cost of the equipment and the specialized training needed to operate the equipment correctly. Thermal imaging is a valuable tool when trying to locate leaks.

What should be included in a high-quality, thorough home inspection report?

The most important items to look at in an inspection report are the comments by the inspector. The description of the defects should be easy to understand and should be explained in a way that the client could take the report to the house unassisted and be able to locate and understand each item. Be wary of the inspector that makes one general comment about an item then states this is consistent throughout the house. Then recommends another inspection by someone else such as a roofer or plumber.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

My name is James R. (Rusty) Barfield. I have been licensed as a home inspector in Texas since 1998 and I have performed over 15,000 different types of inspections on residential homes in 16 years. My office phone number is 409-745-5016. Fax: 409-745-0895. Mobile 409-313-2802. email is jrbar38@gmail.com.

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