What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of a property’s physical structure and systems by an impartial inspector. The inspection results in a thorough report of the condition of the property and any significant concerns or defects.
What is covered?
An inspection includes a visual examination of the attic, grading, foundation, exterior surfaces, roofing, garage, chimney, living areas, electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and water heater. The inspector operates components and systems using normal controls as conditions permit. The inspection is limited to the systems, structures, and components that are present and accessible.
What does the report describe?
The report describes the findings and any material defects. A material defect is a condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability or safety of the home. Style and aesthetics are not considered in determining whether a specific system, structure, or component is defective.
Not all items mentioned in the report need immediate attention. Every house has some blemish or problem. The important thing for a homebuyer to understand is that the report is a list of recommendations and concerns, not "must dos." Homebuyers can prioritize items requiring further attention according to their own needs to ensure that they feel secure and comfortable in their new home.
Should I attend the inspection?
While attending an inspection is not mandatory, being present will give you the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about your new house. The inspector can describe systems and make suggestions regarding maintenance and areas to monitor. Attending at least part of the inspection is highly recommended.
The average inspection takes 2 - 4 hours, depending upon the size, condition, and age of the house. If you aren’t able to attend the entire inspection, it is a good idea to be present for the summary at the end.
Who receives a copy of the report?
The report will be hosted on our website. Access to the report will be emailed to the client and the client’s real estate agent. The client and their agent will have the means to distribute electronic copies to any third parties necessary.
Why a home inspection?
While a home inspection results in a report detailing areas of the property that need further attention, we believe that it serves a much more important purpose. The report is an important tool to help you learn what you need to know to feel comfortable and safe in your new home.
Preparing For the Inspection
To facilitate the home inspection process we have suggestions for both the buyer and seller.
- If the property is vacant verify that the utility services are on. Utilities that are not on will affect the inspection. Return visits will incur additional charges.
- Verify the home inspector has the correct address.
- Ensure the seller or their agent has been notified and full access to the house is available.
- Make sure you or your agent has the means to enter the house.
- Make sure the utilities are on, including water, gas and electricity.
- If there are tenants living on the property, have they been given the proper notice that an inspection has been scheduled?
- Have all locked areas been opened or the keys available and labeled?
- Are the pets contained somewhere? Make sure the agents and home inspector know there are pets on the property.
- Make sure the pilot lights are on at all gas appliances.
- Is the kitchen sink empty? We will be testing the water flow.
- Is the dishwasher empty or can be turned on without causing problems?
- Make sure access is available to all electric panels, heating units, air conditioning units, water heaters, crawlspace doors, attic doors and fireplaces.
If an area is inaccessible or appliance turned off, the condition will be noted in the report, usually with the recommendation that the area or appliance be examined once access is gained.
Choosing an Inspector
It is imperative for all involved in the real estate transaction to know that there is no licensing of home inspectors in California. This non-licensing element has allowed online marketers an inroad to offer “certifications” to any individual wanting to appear credentialed as a home inspector. Be wary of such “online approved” home inspectors. The real estate inspection profession is a demanding profession that requires a broad base of knowledge in all areas of home construction, maintenance and safety issues. It is imperative that consumers and real estate professionals ask for information as to what type of organization is providing the claimed “certification”.
Since California inspectors are not required to register themselves with the state, an individual with marginal qualifications may perform an inspection. REALTORS© and consumers should do some homework before recommending a professional inspector.
The following tips can help:
- Seek/offer several qualified references to buyers. Take the time to verify those you reference by finding out if the inspector does a thorough and professional job.
- Contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints on file.
- Ask the inspector for a sample of past inspection reports. Most professional inspectors provide a detailed report that offers a comprehensive explanation of the home's condition as well as recommendations and upgrade suggestions.
- A professional inspector will usually want you and the buyer to be present during the inspection to familiarize all with the home's systems and point out specific conditions outlined in the report.
- Do not let price be a determining factor in selecting a home inspector. Remember, you usually pay for what you get. Depending on the size of the home among other factors, a professional inspection can range from $300 to over $500 and take up to three or more hours.
- Be wary of home inspectors who offer to repair items outlined in their report. This is an obvious conflict of interest; they may not offer an objective opinion and it is in violation of California's Business & Professions Code (Chapter 9.3, Section 7197(a)).
- Ask the inspector to show proof of his or her qualifications and experience.
- If you find the property requires an inspection from a specialist such as a geologist of structural engineer, be sure to ask for proof of license, certification and experience.
- It is best to select home inspectors who will stand behind their work and covered by proper liability and professional insurance. Errors and Omissions (“E&O”) insurance protects the home inspector and you against disputes arising from any oversights made by the inspector.
- Another important factor is membership in a professional trade organization such as CREIA or ASHI.
These suggestions for finding a home inspector are taken from an article on the CREIA website, with modifications to the last paragraph. The original article can be viewed at https://www.creia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3435. ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) has a similar article on their website at: https://www.homeinspector.org/Buyers-And-Owners/Homebuyers-Guide/Choosing-the-Right-Inspector.
Having a home inspector perform a pre-purchase inspection is a wise way to become better informed about the condition of your new home. The more informed you are, the more confident you will feel about your purchasing decision.
Our inspection report was drafted by local home inspectors for local homes. The reports are clear and unbiased. They are written to help you understand the systems in your house, areas of maintenance and possible upgrade considerations.
Find out what the buyer’s inspectors will discover about your house before listing it. With building standards changing every three years, it’s almost guaranteed that every house will have defects or recommended upgrades.
Your pre-listing inspection will supply you with the information other inspectors will find, allowing you to decide in advance what repairs or upgrades you are willing to make or negotiate. This understanding of your property will expedite the real estate transaction process.
Home Inspection Associations
Product Safety and Recall Information
Consumer Product Safety Commission: CPSC.GOV
EPA Information on Asbestos: www.epa.gov/asbestos/
EPA Information on Lead: www.epa.gov/lead
EPA Information on Mold and Indoor Air Quality: www.epa.gov/mold
California Association of Realtors®: www.car.org
California Water Heater Bracing Guidelines
(Your local building department may have different guidelines): waterheaterbracing_08-11-04.pdf
Bay Area Specific
Association of Bay Area Governments. (Information on seismic concerns, planning projects, and other services.): https://abag.ca.gov/
Bay East Association of Realtors®: bayeast.org
Federal Pacific Panels: inspectapedia.com
Aluminum Wiring: inspectapedia.com
Defective ABS Pipe: https://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/ABS_Piping.php
Defective Prefabricated Masonry fireplaces: fireplaceinspections.com
New Pressure Treated Wood
Corrosion of Deck Fasteners: Simpson StrongTie
Moisture Problems: Home Water and Moisture Problems: prevention and solutions
Gary Branson © 2003 Firefly Books