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A home inspection is done by a qualified California inspector and provides information about items that the buyer canít see with the naked eye or isnít necessarily qualified to examine. Before buying a home, it's imperative to know the condition of the home and what, if any, work needs to be done. You don't want to run into surprises after you close escrow. In California, the buyer has 17 days to complete inspections; during the time, they can walk away from the purchase based on any problems determined by inspections.
Some of the areas of concern for the inspector are the exterior walls, windows, exterior home and garage doors, and drainage areas. Duct work, the foundation, chimney and fireplace are checked to see if additional inspections are necessary. The roofs as well as the attic, gutters, water heaters and air conditioning are all investigated. The plumbing is inspected, and the inspector looks for signs of aging, breaking and problems with the toilets, pipes, drains, sinks and faucets. Electrical panels and circuit breakers are checked as well as all appliances.
Itís always recommended that a physical inspection of the house be done. If itís a single family house rather than a condo, itís recommended that a sewer inspection also be completed. During a sewer inspection, the inspector runs a camera, through the pipe, extending from the house to the street, where the city takes over the maintenance. Through the eyes of the camera, one can see if any roots may be penetrating the pipe, and, more importantly, if there are any cracks in the pipe. If weeds or roots are expanding into the pipe, a good flush will take care of the problem. However, if the pipe is broken, costs could be $10,000 to $20,000 depending upon the labor involved.
Other inspections that may be necessary to uncover possible problems are inspections of wells, chimneys, roofs or foundation. If the house is on a hillside, youíll need a geological inspector and, perhaps, a surveyor.
And please, donít use your brother in lawís inspector or someone you found in the yellow pages. Find a reputable inspector that your agent has used. Ask for three references along with copies of their inspection reports. See, for yourself, the format, depth of examination and summary of conditions so itís clear and easy to understand.
In some cases, buyers ask for repairs to be done or credits back at escrow from the sellers. These are typically requested in cases of health or safety issues. Is the stove working properly? Is there mold present? Are leaks present? All of these should be considered for possible repair, and a Request for Repairs is sent by the buyersí agent to the listing agent with supporting documentation from the inspection as well as quotes for labor and materials received from a qualified contractor. This type of credit is for serious repair, only. A seller will not pay a buyerís request to have the kitchen upgraded.
To prepare for an inspection, read a report that has been recently completed, and while you review it, write down possible questions. Good luck.