Posted on July 11, 2017
Is It Necessary To Hire A Home Inspector Prior To Buying Or Selling A Home In California?
Home inspections should only be conducted by a qualified home inspector. There are many reputable home inspection services available throughout California. Professional Home Inspectors in Roseville, CA will carry credentials to prove that they have undergone special training for this task and to bring out their reliability for discovering any damaged, or in need of repair, areas inside or surrounding the house.
If you are looking into buying a home in California, or if you are considering putting up your property for sale, one of the most important things you need to do is to get a home inspection on the property. A home inspection is a non-invasive check into the condition of a property to highlight any areas which need repairing or which are badly damaged.
Inspectors will check every area of the home such as the roof, the basement, air conditioners, plumbing, electrical connections and any other area or fixture of the house which may be prone to breaking or failing. They will also examine the home from the point of view of improper building practices such as poor contracting services in the past, which could create problems after a purchase and show that the home may not be of good value for the asking price. Other important areas include looking into how well it is being maintained, regarding the age of the home, the life expectancy of fixtures, and finding out structural areas of the home which need extensive repairs.
After completing the inspection, the home inspector will issue an inspection report which details out all their findings. As a buyer, a home inspection report will tell you about the entire condition of the property that you wish to purchase. If you feel that some conditions need only nominal repairs, you can negotiate their repair fees with the seller.
On the other hand, if the conditions are pretty bad, the inspection could actually save you from buying a property which will require considerable expenditures for repairs after your purchase. As a seller, getting a home inspection done before you put your property for sale let's you know on what needs to be done to improve property condition. You will have a better chance of getting the price you want on the sale of the home, rather than have buyers point out errors and then haggle for a reduced price, or insist that the repairs be completed at your expense.
How Many Types of Home Inspectors Are Available?
Like most professions, the home inspection industry has its share of qualified and unqualified individuals calling themselves professionals.
For you, the trick is figuring out how to differentiate the good home inspector - the one who will use his or her knowledge, skill and experience to make sure you make an educated investment - from the inspector who may be out to simply collect fees from unsuspecting buyers.
Although qualifications vary from province to province, they are rather minimal. Which means any Joe or Jane Blow can print up business cards that identify the individual as a home inspector, and declare themselves home inspectors.
Well, it doesn't have to be - when you know what to look out for.
A home inspection is a non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. This is carried out by a home inspector, who should have special equipment and training to carry out such inspections. A home inspection report is then issued by the home inspector.
A home cannot "fail" an inspection, as there is no score or passing grade given. But a home inspector can fail to deliver a thorough unbiased evaluation of the home building you are looking at purchasing. Sometimes the home inspector lacks experience. Or could be that not enough time was taken to ensure a complete analysis.
The bottom line: when it comes down to selecting a home inspector for what could be the biggest investment you may ever make, you want to make sure you know how to tell the real deal from the pretender.
And that's the purpose behind this report.
The following questions will help you identify a home inspection professional who will make sure you get what you pay for - an honest, thorough evaluation of the house or building you are looking to buy.
1. What exactly does your inspection cover and how long will it take?
A professional home inspection should take between 3-4 hours. That's the amount of time needed to look at and report on all of the key elements that could have the most impact on your decision whether to buy or not.
Here is a list of items a true professional home inspector should be prepared and equipped to cover on a routine inspection that a newly minted inspector or "part-timer" might miss completely. Uninvestigated, any of these areas could have a tremendously damaging impact on the future value of the home as well as your overall enjoyment.
Hot spots in electrical panels - Could be caused by poor connections or circuit breakers that are failing. Easy to spot for a home inspector with an electronics background but could be missed by inspector with general experience.
Uninsulated suction lines on air conditioning units - Could make system expensive to operate. Telltale signs are oily film or dark area in area of where refrigerant components are located.
Floor above crawl space - How cold will it be in winter?
Size of the electrical service - Is it large enough for future additions such things as a hot tub? Again, a home inspector with experience as an electrician can determine in a snap.
Condition of a wooden deck - The expected life span of a wooden deck could be cut short if the cut edges of boards not are treated or wall flashings not installed correctly if they are there at all.
Rain water accumulation - Once it drips off the roof, will it accumulate and become a problem?
Return air for the heating cooling system - Is it on the floor? If so, how will that affect the efficiency and comfort of the system?
Additions to the original structure - Need to be inspected for possible major problems. Major remodeled homes - What deficiencies are covered?
Newly painted concrete - If there are concrete floors foundations, walls, and ceilings painted, you need to know why? There could be a good reason!
Receptacles installed Upside down - Sure sign of an amateur installation. Further investigation required.
Molding style variations - They don't match from one area to another. Why?
Leveling inconsistencies - Why are floors out of level? Or the floors are level and you look along supporting structure and it is crooked as a dog's hind leg....why is this so? Could be a sign of a bigger problem.
Proper appliance ventilation - Is that combustible appliance receiving proper take up air for combustion? Could be a possible health or safety risk!
Dryer exhaust vent actually installed correctly - Or, is the flow of air being hampered and possibly creating extra energy costs or a fire hazard?
Effective smoke detector testing - Was that smoke detector/alarm sensing circuit actually checked with canned test smoke (as a professional will do) or was the test button only pushed. Your life and those of your loved ones may depend on it!
Age of Carbon Dioxide/Smoke detector - Is it time to replace?
Hidden stains on underside of roof sheathing - Will your inspector actually enter into the far reaches of the attic to find out if they're present?
EIFS-drainage - This is an important concern. Will time be to perform a thorough inspection?
Hidden deficiencies - Sometimes, storage areas will be staged to hide deficiencies. Will the inspector move or highlight, if unable to move, in the report?
Discolouring of areas above combustion areas- Why is this visible around fuelled appliances?
Colour of furnace flame - When the furnace first fires, does the heat exchanger leak?
By presenting this list to someone who you are considering hiring to do your home inspection, two things will happen. First you will send a message that you know what you're doing. And second, you will get a sense of how thorough you can expect your home inspection to be.
2. What happens if I buy the house or building based on your inspection findings and, a few months later, I find myself faced with a costly repair?
Even top-notch inspectors are human and can make errors or overlook problems they probably should have noticed. That won't be very comforting to you if you find out 3 months after you've bought based on the inspector's recommendation that mentioned nothing about a potential costly repair. The key is to make sure you never put yourself in this position in the first place.
Here's how to do it:
Before you invest all kinds of time interviewing a particular home inspector, ask about the company's policy in such situations. Does the company or individual inspector stand behind the report? Many companies ask customers to sign a waiver limiting the company's liability to the cost of the inspection.
Here's an example of how this weasel clause reads in the contact:
"The expense to the client in regard to errors or omissions caused by the inspector is limited to not more than the price of the inspection."
How'd you like to find that out after you've just learned that the foundation of your house is shifting and will require about $75,000 worth of work to fix the condition?
To protect yourself, if an inspector carries Errors and Omissions insurance. If so, that's a sure sign that you're working with a professional who stands behind his report. Errors and Omissions insurance coverage is very expensive and an inspector who makes that investment is sending a clear signal that he conducts himself in a professional way.
3. Are you associated professionally with realtors and/or any firms connected with construction or repair of homes?
This is another biggie. And it happens way too often. You are working with a real estate agent. You find a house you want. Your financing's in place. The only thing standing between you and the home of your dreams is confirmation that the house is sound. You need a home inspection report done.
You have never had to hire a home inspector before so naturally, you ask your realtor for some recommendations. Most realtors typically have two or three inspectors he or she can recommend.
Now stop and think for a minute.
How objective can a home inspector be if he is getting his referrals from a realtor? If he tells it like it is and provides you, the prospective home buyer, with the complete story on the overall condition of the house, you may walk away. That means a lost sale for the realtor. And, for the home inspector, a dried up referral source.
So how does the inspector deal with this potential issue? Simple. His report is written in inspector-"ese" using vague, non-specific terms like 'possible' and 'may' that leave plenty of wiggle room for the Realtor to manoeuvre with the buyer.
Same thing with contractors. If a home inspector offers to direct you to a contractor to perform work, or offers to do it himself, I'd look for another inspector. Home inspectors are in the business of inspecting homes so they can provide you with a complete evaluation of the home so you can make a wise investment.
4. What qualifies you to be a home inspector and what certifications do you have? Inspectors should be able to provide references, certifications and work history upon request. Make sure the inspector has experience before you contract with them.
And don't make this mistake. Someone could have years of experience as a home inspector but that doesn't mean he or she can give you the understanding you need to make an educated decision on whether or not to buy a particular house or building.
You need to look at the whole picture. What is the home inspector's background? Has he walked the walk or is he simply parroting back stuff anyone could learn with a bit of study.
It's not unusual for Professional Engineers to take up home inspection as a second career. Sure, they will know plenty about the structural aspects of a home but how will this one-dimensional perspective produce an evaluation that effectively examines all the other elements of a thorough home inspection.
Here are some additional questions that will help you identify the true professional:
a. Is he or she a member of the recognized associations promoting excellence in the home inspection profession.
b. How much time annually does he devote to continuing education so he can stay current on changes in the industry, ensuring that you, as a client, receive the most informed counsel he is able to give.
c. What is his "life" experience as it relates to being around homes? Has he built and remodeled homes? Owned and operated rental properties? Supervised the maintenance of residential and commercial projects?
As you can see, there's more to hiring a home inspector who is truly equipped to provide you with the unbiased, complete information you need to make an informed decision regarding one of the biggest purchases you will make in a lifetime.
By using the insights in this report, you'll be able to scratch beneath the surface and put yourself in position to make a wise investment.
What Does A Home Inspector Look For?
There are thousands of home inspectors out there, so how does a person go about choosing just one? Referrals, associations and information directly from the home inspector can be used to make the right choice. Below is an elaboration of how each of those factors can be used to decide which inspector is the best fit for a specific client.
The home inspection business, like much of the service industry, is largely referral-based. Friends and family are a great source of referrals, since the accounts of their experiences with home inspectors can be trusted. Realtors are another good source, since they usually have had extensive dealings with a number of home inspectors. Some people worry that a real estate agent may send them to an inattentive inspector in order to guarantee that a sale goes through. However, most real estate agents actually want the buyer to be fully aware of the condition of the home at the time of the sale, since misleading a buyer will end up costing the real estate agent their own referrals in the future. If you are worried that your real estate agent may mislead you regarding what home inspector to select, then you should probably look at working with a different agent.
Another good way to distinguish between home inspectors is the home inspection associations to which they belong. Many inspectors will use their memberships as an advertising tool, because they know that clients respect the high standards these groups require of their members. In order to join, they usually has to demonstrate competence in the field by either providing a state license (if the state requires it), completing a number of mandatory inspection hours, and/or taking an exam given by the association. Once a member, the home inspector must adhere to the "Standards of Practice" for the organization. By providing clear guidelines to follow, these associations help protect the inspector, clients and the profession.
The last way to choose a home inspector is to take your questions directly to the home inspectors themselves. First, look over their websites (if they have one) or pamphlets for information. Then, discuss any remaining questions or concerns with the inspector in person or over the phone. Look for how much experience the inspector has and check on any credentials. Not every state requires licenses, so it may be up to the client to make sure that the inspector is qualified. See what services are offered and what comprises a typical home inspection. Find out how many inspections the inspector typically performs and how much time will be devoted. Ask how much an inspection will cost for a particular home's size, making sure to include the fees of any additional services desired. Keep in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best. Finally, see how the inspector creates and delivers their home inspection reports. Some inspectors will deliver a handwritten report at the time of the inspection, while others will create a computer generated report with home inspection software. With the computer generated report it may be emailed later that day, or possibly printed out on site. You will want to see a sample of the report they create to get an understanding of how the condition of the home is going to be presented to you.
After obtaining all of this information from referrals, associations and home inspectors themselves, an informed decision can be reached as to which inspector will be the best choice. Fortunately, there are many good home inspectors out there, so it should be easy to find one for the job.