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Questions to Ask When Hiring an Inspector for Real Estate Transactions

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Questions to ask when hiring a septic inspector for real estate transactions

Whether you are buying or selling a home, there are plenty of reasons to get the septic system inspected. A faulty septic system can ruin a deal, so it’s important to have the system inspected by a professional.

There are no state standards for septic inspections in Texas, and there is no requirement for state licensing or certification of the septic inspector. So how do you know you are hiring a qualified professional? Here are some questions to ask that will guide you to choosing an inspector.

Certifications, licensing, and experience

Is the inspector certified by the National Association of Wastewater Transporters (NAWT)?

While there are no state licenses or certifications for septic inspectors, NAWT offers a certification course; a NAWT inspector will be more familiar with how to test a system.

Note that your inspection will vary slightly depending on your inspector, as well as the system type. Some home inspectors are NAWT certified, but only perform a “visual” inspection. Be sure you know up front what kind of inspection the professional offers.

Does the inspector hold a valid Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) license to install the type of system they are inspecting?

A licensed installer will be more familiar with regulations.

How long has the inspector been in business?

Generally speaking the more experience they have with inspections, the better.

Real estate and septic requirements

Is the inspector knowledgeable of local real estate inspection requirements for each county and entity?

While the state sets minimum regulations, each local authority can have more stringent requirements. Hiring an inspector who knows these requirements will be a better use of your money than hiring one who doesn’t.

Will the inspection report be accepted by your mortgage company?

Each loan varies with their requirements for a septic inspection. Be sure you are ordering the right inspection the first time.

Septic system knowledge

Is the inspector knowledgeable about the type of system they are inspecting?

There are many types of septic systems. Someone may have lots of experience with conventional septic systems, but may not have much experience with aerobic systems.

Be sure they are familiar with the type of system at the property you want inspected. This may take some research on your part if the inspector does not look into it before he is scheduled.

If repairs are recommended, is the inspector knowledgeable about repair requirements in each local area? Can he or she provide an estimate for repairs?

As mentioned, each local entity may have different regulations. For example, you may be able to replace only the tank in one county, but have to upgrade to a whole new system in the next county.

Septic inspection process

Does the inspector obtain the records on the system prior to the inspection and provide them with the report?

This is helpful in determining the system’s location, and — just as importantly — if the system was permitted. If there have been changes made to the system without a permit, this could indicate a non-compliant system.

What are the inspection procedures?

This varies by the type of the inspection and other factors related to the history of the system and your particular transaction.

Does the inspector have different procedures for different types of systems?

A good inspection should differ depending on the system being inspected.

How does the inspector locate the tank?

If a tank is buried, how will they verify the tank location? In rocky areas, the tank location may be hard to verify until it is exposed.

Does the inspector look inside the tank or pump the tank during the inspection?

This is usually the key difference if you want to really know what you are buying.

There are two kinds of septic inspections: visual and full. Only full inspections involve opening and pumping the tank.

Caution: not all septic inspections are the same

Are all septic inspections created equal? Not even close! Because there are many variations of septic systems and special circumstances for every transaction, the septic inspection process will vary from property to property.

We are septic inspection experts

If you live in the San Antonio or Boerne, Texas area and need a septic inspection for a real estate transaction, consider Van Delden Wastewater Systems.

Our inspectors are NAWT Certified as well as TCEQ licensed installers, inspecting over 400 septic system per year. Our team also teaches continuing education classes for NAWT inspectors and others in the industry.

Please call us at 210.698.2000 (San Antonio) or 830.249.4000 (Boerne) or contact us online to ask questions or schedule an inspection.


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