What’s The Difference Between a Professional Engineer and a Professional Real Estate Inspector?

The main difference is education and experience.  There are many qualified Real Estate Inspectors in Texas, but they bring a different scope of work and a different skill set to the inspection.  Engineers bring a level of critical thinking to a inspection project that is not taught in courses required to obtain a real estate inspection license.

The biggest difference is the level of education and experience.  In most states including Texas you cannot hold yourself out an engineer without being licensed.  Obtaining a license requires a minimum of a 4-year degree, and normally 5 or more, engineering work experience after graduation, letters of recommendation for your peers, and extensive testing to get your engineering license.  The requirements for obtaining a TREC Professional Inspectors License is significantly less.

As a result, engineers bring to bear formal and professional training not only in technical knowledge but more importantly in problem solving or critical thinking skills not taught in real estate inspection courses.  As a result, you may find that an engineer can evaluate your concerns from ensuring that you are asking the right questions to define a problem and providing an opinion.  This is why most engineering firms provide a narrative engineering report that typically provides not only opinions of performance or condition as well as supporting information, rather than the typical checklist inspection form required by the Texas Reas Estate Commision for inspection of homes.

The Texas Society for Professional Engineers has developed an outstanding video which outlines the importance and difficulty in obtaining an engineering license. It answers the question we commonly get about the value of an engineer on an inspection project by discussing the steps required in obtaining a license.