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Buying or selling, and the ownership and maintenance of real estate, involves many aspects beyond sale/purchase physical inspection of the property. Information and internet resources on some frequently asked questions and commonly requested needs for home or other property owners are provided here on a variety of subjects and some common areas of concern.
Are real estate inspections a requirement?
Why do buyers need a property inspection?
What if the property has already been inspected?
Why should sellers engage an inspector?
Should a leased or rented property be inspected?
How can a home or other building "fail" inspection?
What if the inspection reveals problems?
Are inspectors qualified to make repairs?
How can an inspector's license or bond be verified?
What is the best way to select an inspector?
When is the best time to hire an inspector?








Inspection reports are prepared for an individual named client, and not transferable to another prospective buyer of the same property. The existence of any previous reports should be disclosed, however a buyer is best advised to rely on their own chosen inspector for an independent opinion of the property, and any changes since the prior inspection. Back to FAQ's.   

How can an inspector's license and bond be verified?

What if the inspection reveals problems?
Can an inspector tell if a property is a good buy?
Can an inspector tell if a building is built to code?
Can inspectors tell if a building is structurally sound?
What about earthquake damage or termites?
What are the most common defects inspectors find?
Will inspectors give advice on how to make repairs?
Do inspectors know how much repairs should cost?
What are some of the more serious safety concerns?
Will an inspector know if there are health hazards?
What are the most common health hazards?
Which specialists might be needed, and why?

Are real estate inspections a requirement?
FAQ's and Useful Links
Nothing in California state law requires that a buyer or seller have a home or any real property inspected in connection       with a sale/purchse transaction. However, in the mid-1980's California case law affecting disclosure issues moved the real estate community to strongly recommend and defer to professional inspection of homes and other properties. Back to FAQ's.  
The purchase of a home, or any real estate, is typically the largest single investment people make and becomes their most valuable asset. Conventional wisdom dictates buyers protect themselves in their investment with a professional inspection on the condition of the property by a qualified inspector prior to closing on their financial commitment. Back to FAQ's.  

Why do buyers need a property inspection?

What if the property has already been inspected?

Inspection homes or other buildings by private sector inspectors are to render an opinion on the general condition of the property and not for building or zoning code compliance per se. Negative inspection findings do not "fail" a property, however a report may include recommendations for necessary repairs, corrections or safety upgrades. Back to FAQ's.   

Why should sellers engage an inspector?
Caliifornia case law from the mid-1980's firmly placed on the sellers of homes the obligation of disclosure of known conditions to prospective buyers. Although not a substitute for disclosure statements required by law, an independent professional inspection can provide buyers further information, and may help facilitate the sale. Back to FAQ's.   
Inspection of a property to be occupied either under a lease or rental agreement will establish the condition of a home or other property prior to occupancy and can help in any potential dispute with respect to monies held by the owner as security against the return of the property in the condition upon it was first occupied by the lessee or tenant. Back to FAQ's.   

Should a leased or rented propery be inspected?

How can a building "fail" inspection?

Are inspectors qualified to make repairs?
Although an experienced inspector is likely to possess the necessary knowledge and expertise, California adminstrative law precludes a home inspector from offering to make repairs or corrections on any discovered "material defects" on a property of one to four dwelling units within one year of the date the inspection was conducted. Back to FAQ's.
The State of California has yet to license or register home inspectors, and minimally regulates the inspection profession. A well qualified, experienced inspector may be state licensed as a general or other contractor, however the Contractors State License Board does not enforce inspection standards and will not hear complaints against inspectors. Back to FAQ's.
As with the selection of any professional service provider, reviewing and comparing background, education, traning and experience is recommended. In an essentially unregulated profession, inspection services, credentials and depth of experience vary widely and are typically reflected in fees quoted. Click Here for a Helpul Basic Checklist. Back to FAQ's.

What is the best way to select an inspector?
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In the case of a sale/purchse transaction, for the buyer an inspection is best scheduled immediately upon acceptance of the offer which should provide time to secure an inspection, and review the inspection report. For sellers, inspection of the property prior to listing for sale will allow adequate time to prepare the property for the market. Back to FAQ's.

When is the best time to hire an inspector?

Can an inspector tell if a property is a good buy?
Inspectors are not qualified to determine the fair market value of a property, and Standards of Practice preclude an inspector from commenting on advisability of purchase. Should an appraisal be in question, a second opinion is best advised. To find a licensed appraiser: Click Here for The California Office of Real Estate Appraisers. Back to FAQ's.

Can an inspector tell if a building is built to code?
Private sector inspectors do not inspect for code compliance. A qualified inspector, certified by either CREIA or ASHI will have passed a test of inspection knowledge largely based on construction trades practices, building codes and more importantly code history. To verify code compliance, the local building and safety department or zoning commission records would need to be verified. Inspection Standards of Practice exclude such third party research. Local permit search service providers are typically available. Inspectors may be able to refer to appropriate resources. Back to FAQ's.

What are the most common defects inspectors find?
Although a very important aspect of an inspection report and key to a building having "good bones", negative conditions with respect to a building foundation or structure number among the least discovered common defects in a building. Inspection findings more likely to prove costly in corrections, repairs or replacement occur in other building systems or compnents. Click here for the most common defects found in residential inspections. Back to FAQ's.
A comprehensive report from a qualified inspector should identify any "material defects" or areas of concern about safety or serviceability of the building. Empowered with this information, with the help of the real estate agent closing negotiations may result in any necessary repairs, corrections or safety upgrades being made or a credit to off-set costs. Back to FAQ's.

Will inspectors give advice on how to make repairs?
They may, although would likely be reluctant to do so where the outcome might well not be what the inspector had recommended, and in most instances there will be more than one way to make a repair. Where repairs may total less than $500 in labor and materials a qualified handyman is probably the best bet. Proposals on repair options and costs more than this dollar amount should come from a state licensed contractor in an appropriate specialty. For information on specialty license categories, and license verification contact: The Contractors State License Board. Back to FAQ's.

Do inspectors know how much repairs should cost?
Experienced inspectors of homes or other buildings, particulary those with construction background knowledge generally will know typical or average repair or replacement costs. State of California adminstrative law precludes inspectors from bidding on repairs to "material defects" discovered. Whether or not attached to negotiations in closing on a property, estimates should come from qualified persons ready, willing and able to perform and guarantee such work. Back to FAQ's.

What are some of the the more serious safety concerns?
Although not an exhaustive list, and in no specific order of seriousness, among the most common safety concerns found by inspectors would be conditions related to: Unsafe electrical panels, Knob-and-tube wiring, Aluminum wiring, Unsafe Horizontal furnaces, Security bars and Formaldehyde Inspectors check these and many other life and health safety concerns in the systems and components of a building, which often require repair or replacement. Back to FAQ's.

Will an inspector know if there are health hazards?
Inspection of a property to recognized standards of practice by a qualified inspector should include reporting on any actual or evidence of conditions posing potential health hazards to the occupants of a building. The inspection report should reference any condition that may result in contamination of soil, water, air, or the building itself. Back to FAQ's.

Can inspectors tell if a building is structurally sound?
Inspection standards of practice do not include engineering analysis of a building. Unless specifically credentialed with appropriate licensure as a professional engineer, architect or other qualified design professional, an inspector should not comment on structural design issues. Similarly, unless appropriately qualified an inspector should not comment upon the size or boundaries, easements or other issues affecting a property or neighboring parcels. To find a licensed engineer or land surveyor contact: The California Board for Professional Engineers and Land SurveyorsBack to FAQ's.

What about earthquake damage or termites?
Properly qualified, experienced inspectors will discover and report on actual or evidence of damage to a structure which may be related to earth movement. Unless specifically credentialed with appropriate licensure as a qualified design professional, an inspector should not comment on apparent earthquake related structural damage causes or remedies. For more information on earthquake preparedness or safety contact: The California Seismic Safety Commission.
Similarly, unless specifically credentialed with appropriate licensure as a structural pest control operator an inspector should not comment upon the sources, causes, extent of any damage or other issues which may be related to insects, any organic such as mold, fungus or any microbiological or any other form of animal infestation. To find a licensed structural pest control operator contact: The California Structural Pest Control Board
Back to FAQ's.

What are the most common health hazards?
More recently toxic mold and radon gas have become the subject of media attention with respect to indoor air quality and related potential health effects. These were preceded by asbestos and also lead contained in various building products affecting either air or potable water quality in a building. Experienced inspectors will be knowledgeable in these matters, and able to identify conditions that would deem it prudent to engage appropriate specialists. Back to FAQ's.

Which specialists might be needed, and why?
Only persons with appropriate qualifications can determine the levels of any contaminant in either soil, water, indoor air, or any building product or material and offer an opinion as to any potential adverse health effects upon building occupants. Some inspection firms offer added services to collect air or other samples, however definitive opinion of any health hazard would come from an appropriately credentialed microbiologist or industrial hygenist. Back to FAQ's.
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