O’Brien was working as a homebuilder in the early 2000s when he saw the writing on the wall about the impending housing market crash of 2008.
O’Brien joined the Army and soon became part of a squad protecting a general, including on deployments in Afghanistan.
“Just as with building houses, I wanted to do this to the max,” O’Brien said. “It’s kind of my personality. It’s kind of all of our personalities. That’s why I like hiring veterans. So I gave it 210%.”
After six years, O’Brien was ready to leave the military. By that time, the housing industry had changed. He decided to turn to home inspecting.
O’Brien created Inspect It Austin. The logo is a pentagon, representing the five main branches of the military. O’Brien only hires military veterans or former homebuilders and has hired someone from the five branches of the service except the Coast Guard—only because he has not had the opportunity.
The company inspects almost 500 hundred houses a month and has 13 employees. O’Brien’s wife and mother both work in the office. He has also recruited former builders from most of the largest area home companies. He said it is the employees’ combined knowledge and military training to work toward a shared goal sets the company apart.
O’Brien said his inspectors are trained to focus on attention to detail when inspecting homes. Reports will include structural issues and other items regulated by the Texas Real Estate Commission but will also point out cosmetic flaws and other issues.
Most of the time, his inspectors will file their reports immediately after the inspection, before even leaving the property. Inspect It Austin also often offers same-day inspections if the request is placed before noon.
“We’ve been at it for over 10 years of just a crazy market, and it hasn’t flattened out. ... It’s driving the market in a way that these builders have way too much power,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he does not have an issue with any home companies, but the demand on the market and strain placed on the building process by supply shortages means there are instances in which a building superintendent may try to cut corners.
He recommends that all buyers work with real estate agents and inspectors regardless if they are buying a new or existing home.
“We’re already familiar with the market and process, so we are empowering you, empowering our clients,” O’Brien said. “We will tell you, ‘No, this is normal.’ or, ‘No, this is not normal.’ ... it helps buyers manage their expectations.”
Inspect It Austin
Service area: Greater Austin area