Buying a home in California? Here is what most people do for home inspections…

<strong>Buying a home in California? Here is what most people do for home inspections…</strong>

Overall

Most home sellers provide the buyer with a full set of disclosures and these two inspection reports before or after the buyer tours the home: (1) general home inspection report, and (2) pest inspection report.  

For real estate agent-assisted sales, normally the seller provides these two reports upfront (at the time of the home tour). FSBOs are the same, except many FSBO sellers often find/know the buyer first, so the buyer simply hires his own home inspection contractors of choice, and therefore the buyer pays for the reports directly. 

When

Inspections can be completed anytime before close of escrow, but the two main inspections (home inspection and pest inspection) are usually completed before the purchase contract is signed. And then any additional inspections are completed during the inspection contingency period (typical is up to 17-days after the purchase contract is signed).

Cost

On a $600,000 home, a home inspection report costs about $400, and a pest inspection $250. The more expensive the home, the more expensive the reports, but a home inspection tends to cap off around $900 and pest inspection around $500, except for large multimillion dollar homes.

Find Inspectors on Yelp

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you can easily find good inspectors using Yelp.com, because Yelp shows customer reviews (and keeps contractors accountable for good service). For a home inspection report, type “home inspection” and add your city/area. And for a pest inspection report, type “pest inspection” and add your city/area. Notably, a pest inspection is often called, Wood Destroying Pests and Organisms Report. 

Local Inspections

Here’s another article that I wrote on inspections, which also goes into some additional required inspections by certain local governments (such as San Francisco requires a water and energy inspection; and some cities require a sewer lateral inspection):

https://norcalfsbo.com/2017/08/01/presale-inspections-for-california-home-buyers/

Other Inspection Options

The standard CAR form “Buyer’s Investigation Elections” (BIE) identifies 39 separate inspection reports that a buyer is invited to consider before closing escrow! Most buyers ignore this list for good reason, because it’s ridiculously long — you can read the list at the end of this post if you like. As stated above, most buyers only do two inspections: home inspection and pest inspection. However, here is my short list of additional situations where it’s wise to consider paying for additional inspections:

  • Water well: if the property has its own water well, it’s a good idea to test the productivity (i.e., gallons per minute) and also the water quality (i.e., bacteria). This report costs about $500. You can hire any local well contractor to provide the report.
  • Survey: if the property has a disputed boundary line (i.e., if you suspect the fences don’t match the property line) it’s a good idea to hire a local surveyor to measure the property boundaries, and verify those measurements against the title records. This report costs about $400.
  • Square footage: if the home has a disputed square footage (i.e., if you suspect the MLS square footage doesn’t match reality because of an unpermitted addition), consider hiring a professional appraiser (or measurement company) to take measurements. This report costs about $400.
  • Roof: replacing a roof is a costly item (upwards of $50,000), and many general home inspection contractors don’t go up on the roof to inspect it in detail to look for evidence of leaks. So if you want a thorough roof report, you need to hire a roof contractor to give you those details. This report costs about $400.
  • Pool/spa: fixing a pool or spa is an inconvenient item. Some buyers like to have the peace of mind that the pool and spa are in good condition. Because pools are built by specialty contractors, you might want to hire one of those pros to give you details on your pool’s condition. This report costs about $300.
  • Environmental: If you have a specific reason to suspect something is wrong with the air quality in the home, or the soil quality in the yard, you can hire an environmental inspection. The cost of these reports vary even into the thousands of dollars, depending on what you’re looking for. 

Here is the full ridiculously long list of 39 available inspections:

1. GENERAL HOME INSPECTION

2. WOOD DESTROYING PESTS

3. CHIMNEY

4. ELECTRICAL

5. HEATING/AIR CONDITIONING

6. LEAD PAINT

7. PLUMBING

8. SQUARE FOOTAGE

9. STRUCTURAL

10. EASEMENTS/ENCROACHMENTS

11. FOUNDATION/SLAB

12. LOT SIZE

13. BOUNDARIES

14. POOL/SPA

15. ROOF

16. SEWER

17. SEPTIC SYSTEM

18. SOIL STABILITY

19. SURVEY

20. TREE/ARBORIST

21. WELL

22. WATER SYSTEMS AND COMPONENTS

23. RADON GAS

24. FORMALDEHYDE

25. ASBESTOS

26. METHANE GAS

27. MOLD

28. PERMITS

29. PUBLIC RECORDS

30. ZONING

31. GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENTS

32. VACANT LAND/CONSTRUCTION FINANCING

33. CONSTRUCTION COSTS

34. AVAILABILITY OF UTILITIES

35. ENVIRONMENTAL SURVEY

36. NATURAL HAZARDS REPORTS

37. SUBDIVISION OF PROPERTY

38. USAGE (INCLUDING ADUs)

39. INSURABILITY

Greg Glaser, Attorney at Law
I help home buyers & sellers throughout California
209-785-8998 — [email protected]
Flat Fee Packages Available (no commission) for Buyers and Sellers Without a Realtor
http://www.GregGlaser.com

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