Selecting An Engineer

For real estate agents: selecting an engineer

Selecting an engineer to assess the performance of a slab-on-ground foundation is not something the typical homeowner does every day. Virtually all buyers and sellers could use some help with this. Your broker may want you to handle this in some specific way, such as: giving no advice at all, providing and office list, telling them to search on the Internet, and others. Whatever you choose to do in a specific situation with a specific buyer or seller, make sure it complies with any instructions you get from your broker. It should also comply with any requirements in your liability insurance policy.

Some things real estate agents keep in mind

If your client is the buyer

I assume you are using the standard TREC approved sales contract. That contract very clearly restricts who the buyer can retain to inspect any part of the house and that includes the foundation. The buyer can retain the inspector of his or her choice, so long as the inspector is licensed by TREC or is otherwise permitted by law to make such inspections. Here is a direct quote:

Buyer may have the Property inspected by inspectors selected by Buyer and licensed by TREC or otherwise permitted by law to make inspections.

So what is the big deal here? First, the only professionals authorized or permitted by law to make foundation performance assessments that I am aware of Licensed Texas Architects and Licensed Texas Professional Engineers. Of these professionals, the one that carries the most credibility with a seller is a Licensed Texas Professional Engineer. If your buyer insists on bringing in a foundation repair contractor, I recommend that you remind them that only licensed people can be used by the buyer. You can always verbally ask the seller to bring in a foundation repair contractor or allow the buyer t0 do so. Don’t be surprised if the seller says no.

Second, the licensed person that you retain needs to be someone who has the credentials and reputation to be persuasive to the seller and the seller’s agent. The best shot you have is a Texas Professional Engineer who has experience making independent evaluations of slab foundation performance.

Third, the person you retain should be able to explain the procedure he or she uses to make foundation performance evaluations. In fact, some description of the process they use should be on their website. That description should be understandable. If you cannot make heads or tails of what they are talking about, you will probably not be able to understand the report. Neither will the seller and, if the seller cannot understand it, he or she may not consider it credible.

If your client is the seller

 

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