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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Western Montana
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    Default Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Wondering if this is happening anywhere else?
    And, if so, are there any home inspectors considering jumping into the Energy Audit business?

    Austin, TX:
    The city of Austin, Texas, has instituted a new law requiring an energy audit at the time of closing. This went into effect June 1. The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance requires the seller of a home that is more than 10 years old, to provide an energy audit to the buyer at closing. The person doing the audit must be Resnet (HERS) or BPI certified. Those doing the audits currently charge $200-$300 dollars for an 1,800-sq-ft home with one HVAC unit - and say that it takes them about 1 hour per 1,000 square feet to complete an audit. At the end of the first week of the program there had already been 310 homes audited.

    At this time, any energy efficiency upgrades are considered to be voluntary.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Thank goodness this is only in Austin at this time!

    I use to do full blown energy audits with a blower door and all of the bells and whistles. I would say on a average 3 bedroom, 2 bath home under 2,000 sf it will take about 2-3 hours on site if everything goes right (setting up, performing the audit, then tearing it all down and packing up). Then depending on how you are reporting your findings you will have another hour or so. I could do a home inspection during the same time period and make twice as much money....!

    So I would say that you should figure about 4 hours per home. One of the reasons I stopped had to with the fees that folks were willing pay. $200-$300 just did not pay for my time, equipment and training. I did energy audits from 1993 till 1999 and our fees were about the same as what they are now. Folks are just not willing to pay much over $300 for an energy audit.

    Hopefully the powers to be in Austin will get so much flack from this that they will repeal it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
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    4,519

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Just another thing to hurt the already suffering real estate market.

    rick


  4. #4
    Bob Spermo's Avatar
    Bob Spermo Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Terry,

    I am RESNET certfied and I do Energy Star certifications for new construction and energy audits. The Austin energy audit program requires a duct blaster test and the completion of a specific energy audit checklist. I am on the Austin list but have not done one. I think it will take less than 2 hours. New construction Energy Star certs take 3 visits, a blower door test, a duct blaster test and the completion of a computer generated (RemRate for example) report. Total time invested approximately 7 hours _ price $.25 - $.30 sq/ft 3000 sq ft house = $900 or $128/hr. Basic energy audits are not big in my area because the cost of electricity is $.075 k/hr. Audits for FHA Energy Efficient Mortgages are picking up and they take about 2 hours.


  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    Wondering if this is happening anywhere else?
    And, if so, are there any home inspectors considering jumping into the Energy Audit business?

    Austin, TX:
    The city of Austin, Texas, has instituted a new law requiring an energy audit at the time of closing. This went into effect June 1. The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance requires the seller of a home that is more than 10 years old, to provide an energy audit to the buyer at closing. The person doing the audit must be Resnet (HERS) or BPI certified. Those doing the audits currently charge $200-$300 dollars for an 1,800-sq-ft home with one HVAC unit - and say that it takes them about 1 hour per 1,000 square feet to complete an audit. At the end of the first week of the program there had already been 310 homes audited.

    At this time, any energy efficiency upgrades are considered to be voluntary.
    I have some questions.

    What becomes of these energy audits.?

    I assume that the seller is paying for this audit?

    Do any corrections or upgrades have to be done after this audit is performed?

    And the resoan for these audits is???

    I do know what an energy audit involves but seriously, other than the duct test what exactly are you doing that a good home inspection does not already do?

    If you are inspecting a home for the means of a Real Estate transaction then by state law and TREC standards why do you not have to do a complete home inspection on the TREC format following the SOPs?


  6. #6
    Bob Spermo's Avatar
    Bob Spermo Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Ted,

    Let me try to answer some of your questions:

    Seller pays for the audit - house has to be 10 years old - be in Austin city limits and electricity supplied by Austin energy

    Report is given to buyer - no corrections have to be made by seller

    Supposed to give buyer enough info to make "repairs" thus saving energy bills and reducing energy required

    A good energy audit will measure walls and windows (and direction), computer BTUs coming in and going out, document HVAC efficiency numbers (SEER/HSPF), tests the ducts where they cannot be seen, document past energy costs (bills), etc

    It is not a home inspection. It does not look at the items required by TREC. You do have to be RESNET or BPI certified to conduct an Austin energy audit.


  7. #7
    Kenneth Altes's Avatar
    Kenneth Altes Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    This ordinance is a tentative step towards a mandatory law to require the most basic energy improvements, but it is unlikely that this step will be taken by the City Council for a number or reasons.
    As a home inspector in Austin, the audit is almost never available to me during my home inspection but it could be useful information. In fact, the seller does not need to provide the audit report until closing, a bit late to affect the buyer and his negotiation.
    I do believe that mandatory retrofits should be required for apartment buildings for lower income residents. I have inspected many multifamily buildings for buyers in Austin that have unsafe gas furnaces, clogged evaporator coils, leaky ducts and very little insulation, dripping faucets, etc.
    Incidentally, violation of this audit ordinance is a criminal offense.
    Ken Altes, Architectural Inspections of Austin
    Real Estate Inspector in Austin Texas


  8. #8
    Sam Sloane's Avatar
    Sam Sloane Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    The power company should do the energy audits. Many do them free of charge.

    But in the real estate business its always about money.


  9. #9
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sloane View Post
    The power company should do the energy audits. Many do them free of charge.

    But in the real estate business its always about money.

    The power companies usually have someone else do the audit. The only way they get paid is if they have a substantial savings on their power bill.

    I know a guy that does audits for one of the power companies. He gets paid based on how much he saves the folks with their energy costs. Spring, summer and fall (mostly spring and summer) he rakes in a good bit of money. It is always slow in the late fall and winter.

    Blower door, duct blaster and of course the rest of the inspection. Mostly caulking, HVAC and duct work, ventilation, is where the big savings comes in.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Utah
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    389

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Just another thing to hurt the already suffering real estate market.

    rick

    Perfect summary.


  11. #11
    George Russell's Avatar
    George Russell Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sloane View Post
    The power company should do the energy audits. Many do them free of charge.
    But in the real estate business its always about money.
    The real bitch is that HVAC companies may do the audit (most are doing them for free) and then sell the client their services/repairs.
    I myself see this as a conflict of interest on the part of the HVAC company...the same way it would be a conflict if I offered repairs along with my inspection reports.


  12. #12
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Quote Originally Posted by George Russell View Post
    The real bitch is that HVAC companies may do the audit (most are doing them for free) and then sell the client their services/repairs.
    I myself see this as a conflict of interest on the part of the HVAC company...the same way it would be a conflict if I offered repairs along with my inspection reports.
    I have been back and forth with this for all time.

    Any company can go out and inspect a home that is going on the market and then do the work. Whether it be a simple water heater replacement or if a contractor comes in and inspects the homes for repairs needed and then gives a proposal for the work and then does the work. In your case you say the HVAC company can come in and do the audit and then the work.

    Personally I know that I would never screw anyone over if I were to give them a price to do the work for concerns I found, How about you?

    I think it is a joke that home inspection companies cannot give a proposal on concerns they find. Home inspectors have so many checks and balances between them and actually doing the work like the biggest one, it is not your clients home yet. The next checks are, The seller will more than likely get quotes, the Realtor will more than likely get quotes for the client.

    Are there folks out there, including inspectors, that will screw someone over, yes. Is it likely that it will be one in thousands upon thousands of inspections where that would happen, yes.

    Everyone says that it is a conflict of interest, why. The HVAC contractor, building contractor, handyman, plumber, electrician, roofer, all have a hand in the till that is counting on the home being sold and them getting the work What they price on is what they find and propose to do the work. No on e comes in behind us and takes our word for what the concern is and what it will take to repair/replace. In essence they are still doing an inspection and finding concerns and pricing the work out.

    No, I do not price concern repairs out for any client or do the work. I am just saying that this whole conflict of interest thing is asinine. The only reason it exists is because that is the way home inspections first got sold. They sold the inspection as a third party that they could trust to look out for them that did not have an interest or money to be made from repairs.

    Times have gone by the dark ages of inspection. Home inspectors bank on referrals for future work. almost all inspectors all the time will not find make believe items of concern just to price them out to make a few bucks because in fact the home is not your clients home 90 percent of the time. And not just for that reason. The number one reason is because unlike many professions, Home Inspectors as a whole are pretty honest and upright humans. Also even if they were not honest they know that there will more than likely be someone behind them that will either agree or disagree or find out the home inspector was being a scammer.

    This is 2011. It is time to look upon home inspectors, as most clients do, as honest individuals and not someone that could easily become a crook if someone lets them.

    There would be no conflict of interest. Are there crooks in every trade and profession, absolutely. Are most honest upright individuals, absolutely.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    3,473

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    I'm in complete agreement with you Ted. Why is it there this impression that homebuyers need to be protected from us? There are cheats and crooked people in every line of work and every profession. That doesn't prohbit all other people within those professions from performing work on issues they find. Why are we different? I have absolutely no interest in getting involved with making bids and performing repairs. But I have no problem with an HI who is allowed to do so and does to supplement his income.

    I find it laughable that it is considered a conflict of interest for an HI to perform work or repairs on a house that he inspects but most within our profession and HI organizations have no problem with inspectors soliciting referrals from realtors, dropping food off their offices, etc. Talk about worrying about the little white mouse but ignoring the 800 lb. gorilla sitting in the corner.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  14. #14
    George Russell's Avatar
    George Russell Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    I should have been clearer with my complaint. How can a home inspector offer these audits when the HVAC guys are giving them away for free?


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts
    3,473

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    Quote Originally Posted by George Russell View Post
    I should have been clearer with my complaint. How can a home inspector offer these audits when the HVAC guys are giving them away for free?
    George, I see some roofing companies around here advertise free estimates but that is with an installation only. Maybe some of the HVAC companies do the same thing.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  16. #16
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
    Nolan Kienitz Guest

    Default Re: Energy Audit Required in Austin TX

    GR - Simple ... you can offer them all you want ... just can't charge for them


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