Answer: We hear this quite a bit. Some people would have you thinking that only a professional engineer should perform a home inspection. It's not uncommon for some consumers to think that a home inspection involves engineering analysis that can only be done by professional engineers.
Visual home inspections do not involve engineering analysis, even when performed by PE's. In fact, engineering is an entirely different type of investigation, which entails detailed scientific measurements, tests, calculations, and/or analysis. Such a technically exhaustive analysis involves considerable time and expense, and is only approprate when visual evidence exists to indicate a problem that warrants further sepcialized investigation.
What are the qualifications of the PE turned home inspector?
In most states a Professional Engineer can simply that he/she is a PE, regardless whether the degree was obtained in mechanical, electrical, civil, sanitary, structural or any other discipline of engineerig.
It's fortunate for all consumers that the state does not practice giving out Professional Real Estate Inspectors licensed to just any engineer anymore. However, there are still many PE's out there that have a Professional Real Estate License that have little or no real life, real time experience in the home industry. Before hiring an engineer, find out which field his degree came from!!
A good questions to ask anyone, PE's alike, is if they do Phase home inspections. Many consumers will be surprised to find that many PE's do not perform Phase inspections. Why? Wouldn't you like to know the PE you paid extra for actually knows how a home goes together? You would think a Phase framing inspection would be a cake walk for a PE. Many lack of practical experience in the building industry, even though they have a PE degree. Also, when you pay extra for the services of a PE, which hat is he wearing for you? A prudent consumer will make sure that a PE will put his engineer's stamp plus his TREC Inspectors license on the final report. Many do not like putting their engineers degree on the line for just a 'home inspection', but have no problem putting their TREC license on the report while advertising their PE degree. Ask which hat your PE will be wearing! Ask if he does Phase inspections, if not then why? Even if your buying a pre-existing home, you want to make sure he/she knows how the home is suppose to be put together!
What do you want to learn about the home you're planning to purchase?
If you're like most home buyers, you want to know the condition of the house and its components, questions like: Is the roof leaking? Is the heating system working properly? Does the plumbing function properly? Are there any electrical hazards? Are there items in the house that will need repair or replacing and when? Does the wood framing have any damage? Do the doors and windows function properly?
Answering these, and other similar questions is precisely the job of the professional home inspector during a complete visual examination of the property. A qualified Home Inspector, through specific training and experience, understands not only how a ome's systems and components should work, but also how they interact with each other, and how they stand the test of time.
A good home inspector will, however, recommend either the services of an engineer, disciplined in a particular field, or other specialist when the need for further investigations is warranted.
Using the services of a Professional Real Estate Inspector rather than an engineer for a basic home inspection would be like visiting your family doctor/physician rather than a specialist for a general checkup. You don't visit a brain surgeon or heart specialist for a yearly physical. If the geneeral practitioner finds something unusual or something that warrants further analysiss, he/she will refer you to the appropriate specialisit.
I've had some PE's just get all bent out of shape over this page, saying I'm anti PE. Nothing could be further from the truth! I recommend specialist when I find it warranted. Yes, PE's are specialist that have valuable roles in the home industry, but only if they have the practical experience in the building industry that gives them the insight they need to provide outstanding service.