California home inspections are critical for home buyers to uncover key issues that may affect the quality of their homeownership.
Home inspectors identified issues that needed to be fixed in 86% of home inspections. In addition to providing peace of mind, a good home inspector will also walk you through the key aspects of the property that you need to watch out for maintenance.
Even for new homes, but surely for not-so-new homes, an inspection can help identify some key issues. Some common home inspection red flags are:
- Wear and tear of mechanical systems
- Cracked shingles on the roof
- Leaks or cracks in walls
- Improperly wired switches or faulty outlets
- Cracks in windows or doors
- Termite or rodent infestation
Do I Need a Home Inspection?
- If You Are a Home Buyer: Yes, absolutely! A home inspection reveals the flaws of a property, and can save you from buying a poorly maintainted home.
- If You Are a Home Seller: Not really. But, a pre-listing inspection report can be used as a home improvement guide. You can fix identified issues and stage the property to get maximum cash for your house.
What is a Home Inspection?
Inspections are non-invasive visual examinations of homes. Home inspections can reveal significant defects in the property that a homebuyer may miss.
A home inspector performs a home inspection, and the report carries an inspector’s objective assessment of the house. Qualified home inspectors will highlight material defects that could pose a significant financial or physical injury risk to the next homeowner.
The inspector will create an inspection report summarizing their observations and comment on whether the issue is a safety risk, a repair recommendation, or a minor issue.
A thorough home inspection can uncover issues like mold infestation or faulty electrical systems. As a home buyer, this will give you an estimate of the maintenance required on the property.
🤌 How do Home Inspections Work: Learn what are home inspections and the home inspection process
Types of Home Inspections
1. General Home Inspection
In a general home inspection, a home inspector will examine all the mechanical systems and physical structures of the property. Inspectors assess the interior parts of a house and the exterior grounds to find flaws.
Here’s what a home inspector does during a general home inspection:
- Foundation Inspection: Inspection of the house perimeter to check for large cracks in walls, uneven flooring structure, sink holes, loosened or cracked windows, etc.
- Garage: Inspector will check if garage doors open and close as expected, whether the garage is ventilated enough, and if the garage framing is visible.
- Exterior Walls: Inspector inspects the walls of the property to check the damage caused by wood-loving organisms, a possible infestation of termites, etc.
- Roof Inspection: Home inspector will check for loose or improperly secured shingles on the roof, signs of water damage, and the condition of the gutters.
- Grading: House inspector will inspect property to check grading around the structure of the house to verify if the level of the ground around the home is positive, as in, water flows away from the house.
- Electrical Inspection: Inspector will examine the electrical connections and wiring of the house to find potential shock points or possible surges.
- HVAC Inspection: Done by a home inspector to assess the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems of the house.
- Plumbing Inspection: Thorough examination of the plumbing system, including sewers, supply and sewage lines, etc., done by an inspector.
- Kitchen Appliances: Inspector will inspect household appliances like installed ovens, dishwashing machines, grinders, blenders, surface cooking appliances, etc.
2. Specialized Inspections
A home inspector may recommend an additional inspection for a house, depending on their initial assessment.
A trained real estate professional will evaluate a specific aspect of the property in a specialized home inspection. Specialized home inspections are also called ancillary inspections.
The areas flagged as “defects” during the general home inspection are scrutinized to find the root cause. After this specific reexamination, you get a complete view of the anomalies that exist in that aspect of the property.
- Asbestos Inspection: The property is assessed for the suspected presence of ACM (Asbestos-containing material), which is a carcinogenic
- Radon Inspection: Radon gas is a highly toxic material, and homes should be devoid of its presence
- Lead-based Paint Inspection: Required for homes built before 1978 to check the type of paint used
- Termites Inspection: Check the house for wood-destroying organisms like termites, pests, rodents, etc.
- Mold Inspection: Mold or moisture can destroy the structure of the property & needs to be under control
- Chimney Inspection: Evaluation of the chimney to determine if the fireplace & chimney is usable or not
- Septic Tank Inspection: The disposal system of the septic tank is examined for defects or flaws
Is a Home Inspection Required?
NO! A home inspection is not required.
However, it is rare that a home buyer or buyer agent may not insist on scheduling one.
How Does a Home Inspection Work in California?
A home inspector will perform a general home inspection. Note that a home inspection doesn’t deal with aesthetic aspects like the color of the walls. Usually, a home buyer or their realtor schedules the inspection.
Depending on the condition of the house and the severity of the problem, the home inspector may recommend a specialized home inspection.
Buyer’s Home Inspection
A buyer’s home inspection is also called a pre-purchase home inspection. A buyer or their realtor schedules this inspection.
Why do Home Buyers Need a Home Inspection in California?
Home buyers need a house inspection so that they can estimate the maintenance cost of the property. You can anticipate the repair costs based on the replacements or repairs identified in the house inspection report.
Buying a house without inspection can be a bad idea. You could end up with a house that costs thousands of dollars in repairs. A real estate home inspection reveals the property’s defects, so for your protection, get a home inspection.
✅ Home Inspection Tips for Buyers
- Make sure you include the home inspection contingency in your contract
- Be present for the home inspection
- Take a look at the seller disclosure statement
- Identify fixes you can make yourself and ones you will negotiate with the seller
🤌 What do Home Inspectors Look for: Check out a sample home inspections checklist
Do Home Buyers Have to Be There?
Yes! Buyers shouldn’t skip the home inspection.
As a home buyer, you can benefit immensely from attending house inspections. However, being present doesn’t mean interrupting the home inspector while they do their work.
Buying a house as-is with inspection rarely occurs because every house has some cosmetic flaws and minor repairs required. If your home inspector identifies a health or safety-related issue, you can negotiate it with the seller & save on future expenses.
» Buying a Home in California: Everything you need to know about buying a house in California
What is a Home Inspection Contingency?
The inspection contingency is also called a due-diligence contingency. A home inspection contingency clause guarantees that the sale of the house depends on the result of the home inspection.
This contingency allows the buyer a specific timeline called as the inspection period, and it’s about 7 to 10 days. This is the period after the house inspection, where the buyer decides if they still want to purchase the house.
A home inspection contingency back out also helps you recover the earnest money deposit if you walk away from the deal.
Inspection contingency regulations vary statewide. It is best to consult with your mortgage lender and agent while making the contingent offer.
A seller’s inspection is also called the pre-listing inspection. The seller will schedule this inspection for their house before they list on MLS.
The primary motivation for home sellers to do a pre-sale home inspection is to identify the flaws in their property. A seller can plan home improvements based on the issues flagged in the inspection report.
Sellers can sell their homes quickly by making minor repairs and investing some dollars in home staging.
» Home Staging Companies in California: Check out the best home staging companies in California.
What Should Sellers Expect From a California Home Inspection?
Sellers can expect every area and system of the house to be scrutinized. There will be wariness because a home inspector usually checks EVERYTHING during a home inspection. A seller is also not welcome in the house during the seller home inspection.
In a general home inspection, home inspection professionals will look for anomalies in the roof, ceilings, drywall, structure, floors, windows & doors, attics, crawlspaces & basements, electrical systems, heating & cooling systems, and even the plumbing systems.
In a specialized home inspection like a rodent inspection, the inspector will only investigate specific areas where rodent infestation could have occurred.
✅ Home Inspection Tips for Sellers
- Facilitate easy access to all areas of the property
- Ensure all systems are on and enabled
- Vacate appliances like washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, etc.
- Disclose known issues in the property disclosure statement
- Go away before the inspector arrives. If you have pets, make sure you take them with you.
The number of defects flagged in the report doesn’t necessarily mean your house will not sell.
You can ignore minor repairs like garden faucet replacement or a tiny crack in the window. Issues with relatively higher severity, like a rodent infestation or the presence of mold, can cause the deal to fall through, so they should be fixed.
» Seller Disclosures California: Check out what a sellers disclosure statement looks like
Is the Seller Responsible for Any Repairs After Closing?
Technically, no. A seller isn’t responsible for any repairs. But it is important for the seller and buyer to arrive at a mutual decision for closing the sale. 17% of contingent contracts fall through in this phase.
As a seller, you are supposed to disclose known defects to the next homeowner. Not doing so can cause the sale to go astray.
Repairs identified by a home inspector can either be mandatory or non-essential.
|Mandatory Repairs||Non-Essential Repairs|
|1. Meaning||Safety and health-related defects that aren’t negotiable.||Cosmetic issues that don’t compromise the safety of the residents who shall occupy the house.|
|2. Example||Leaking roofs, outdated electrical systems, or rodent infestations||Poor aesthetics, damaged countertops, or tiny cracks in the bathroom floor|
|3. Can You Skip These Repairs?||No. Several U.S. states will require the sellers to make amends before closing. Even lenders or mortgage brokers that finance the home buyer’s transaction will expect the house to be devoid of these issues.||Yes, partially. You can negotiate these minor repairs with the home buyer. This entails either splitting the repair costs or reducing the sale price.|
💰 Sell Your House Without Repairs: If the mandatory repairs cost more than the profit you’ll make from selling the property, you can sell your house as-is to cash home buyers in California.
When Does a Home Inspection Happen?
A home inspection occurs when a property officially goes under contract. The full inspection happens after the buyer has made an offer on the house and the seller has accepted it.
⛔ You Can’t Inspect a Distressed Property: Home inspection is NOT performed when you are buying a distressed property via a foreclosure, short sale, or auction.
» House Under Contract Meaning: When a buyer and seller agree to close the deal, the house is said to be under contract.
How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
The average home inspection time is 2 to 3 hours.
The time is lesser in the case of smaller properties like a condo or if the number of defects is less. It also depends on the thoroughness of the home inspector.
» How Long do Home Inspections Take: Find out how long does an inspection take in CA
How Much is a California Home Inspection?
The average home inspection cost is normally around $260 – $630 in California, with an average cost of $430.
Several factors, such as the size, condition, age, and location of your property, will contribute to this cost.
🤌 Home Inspection Cost California: Get a breakdown of how much to inspect a house in California
Who Pays for Home Inspection When Buying a House in California?
The home buyer will pay the home inspection fee. Home inspectors will typically expect the payment at the time of the service or before the home inspection.
Although the buyer incurs this cost, it is not considered under the buyer’s closing costs.
» Closing Costs for Buyer in California: Find how much are closing costs for a home buyer in California
Will There be Follow-up Costs?
A thorough inspection is usually enough unless the inspector suspects the need for a specialized inspection. Then you need to spend on specialized inspections.
If your property passes the inspection in the first round, you will not incur additional costs. The follow-up costs also depend on the repairs identified & which ones you wish to pay for as a home buyer.
» Buyer Closing Costs California Calculator: Calculate closing costs you incur as a buyer
California Home Inspection Checklist
Home inspectors look for visual cues of major flaws that could compromise overall safety. There are different home inspection checklists based on the type of inspection.
Here’s a sample of a house inspection checklist that you can refer to when preparing for home inspection:
- Electrical Systems
- Heating & Cooling Systems
- Insulation & Ventilation
🤌 Home Buying Inspection Checklist: Check out 2022’s checklist for home inspection
Home Inspection Report
A house inspection report is also called a property inspection report. The home inspector documents their findings in this report. Home inspection reports contain photographs and notes of the observations made by the home inspector.
A thorough, detailed, and diligently written report with lots of home inspection pictures will expose the true condition of the property.
Such a report helps home buyers make an informed decision about buying the house.
» Home Inspection Report Example: Check out this sample inspection report for the house & how to read it
How Long Does a Home Inspection Report Take?
The time to get back the inspection report depends on the thoroughness and meticulousness of the home inspector.
Typically, a home inspection report is available within 24 hours. It may take several days if an ancillary inspection is performed.
Do Appraisers Look at Inspection Reports?
No! A home appraiser has nothing to do with the home inspection report.
A home appraiser’s goal is to determine the home’s market value based on the recent sales in the vicinity. Appraisers don’t need to look at the inspection reports because these reports depict the physical condition of the property.
» Home Appraisers Near Me: Check out our rankings of the best home appraisers in 2022
Hiring a Home Inspector in California
Hiring a credible home inspector is critical for knowing the true condition of the property. Before scheduling a home inspection, you should check out:
- Customer Reviews: Review the home inspector’s reviews on popular review sites like Google & TrustPilot
- Home Inspector’s Credentials: Check if your home inspector is licensed and a member of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors)
- Training and Experience: How many homes were inspected in their tenure? Do they perform specialized home inspections?
- Pricing: Verify if the home inspector is charging as per the average house inspection costs in your area.
- Quality of home inspection reports: Is the inspection report detailed and specific? How meticulously has the home been inspected?
- Access to technology tools: An inspector with new-age home inspection tools and drones will have a higher chance of detecting issues hidden in plain sight.
👌 Best Home Inspection Company in California: Pillar to Post Home Inspectors
Custom Inspection Packages
Pillar to Post Home Inspectors is a popular choice amongst home buyers looking for customized home inspections. They offer exclusive home inspection packages, Plus, Premium & Prestige, and the pricing varies nationwide. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors™ undergo rigorous training and adhere to official and proven procedural guidelines.
- “Plus” Package: General home inspections for existing homes and new construction inspections cover all the major areas in the interior and exterior of the home. The fee varies by state and franchise and can be higher for larger or older properties.
- “Premium” Package: Includes everything in the Plus package with an infrared scan, a digital owners’ manual, rodent inspection, 15 percent discount on added inspection services, and a lifetime maintenance advisory service.
- “Prestige” Package: Includes everything in the previous tiers along with the Healthy Home Package and 30 percent off added inspection services
- Specialized Inspections: Your local Pillar To Post franchise may offer other specialized inspections like radon, mold, infrared, sewer and septic systems, roof, foundations, stucco, pool and spa & more. Prices vary. Specialized home inspections aren’t available in all areas.
👉 Our Take: Pillar to Post Inspection’s custom packages vary by state, and some franchisees have questionable service quality. Furthermore, specialized home inspections aren’t available in all areas, so we recommend you connect with the local Pillar To Post inspector first and then schedule an appointment.
What You Need to Know about Pillartopost:
- How to Schedule an Inspection via Pillartopost.com: You can schedule online via pillartopost.com.
- How Long Does it Take to Get My Inspection Report: Up to a few hours after the home inspection is complete. Typically, a general home inspection requires two to three hours. After that, the Pillar to Post inspection report is available online within minutes. The period may vary for specialized inspections.
- Your Experience May Vary: Pillar to Post is available in 44 states & Canada. Because you will be matched with a local inspector, your experience depends highly on the expertise and professionalism of that inspector.
Pillar to Post Home Inspectors has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Yelp with 27 reviews for one of its California franchisees and a 4.9 out of 5 stars (208 reviews) on Google for its Fayetteville branch.
👉 Check customer reviews before scheduling a home inspection: Pillartopost reviews differ drastically by state, so always check the customer reviews of your local Pillartopost branch.
Near-Nationwide Coverage: Pillar to Post Home Inspectors is one of America’s largest home inspection service companies, with offices in 44 states in the U.S and a few in Canada.
» Home Inspector California: Find out the best home inspector in your area
What’s Not Covered in a Home Inspection?
A home inspector can only do a visual assessment of the house. The aspects of the property that aren’t easily accessible will not be covered.
Some examples would of what a home inspection doesn’t cover are:
- Tearing down walls to inspect the insulation system
- Roof critters
- Floor creaks
- Warped floors and leveling
- Local code compliance
An inspection will only tell you about the physical attributes of the property. You need a real estate appraiser California to find the property’s fair market value.
Home Appraisal vs. Inspection
A home appraisal will tell you the property’s value, while a home inspection will determine the property’s condition. A home inspection and appraisal aim at finding different things and shouldn’t be considered similar.
In a home appraisal, a licensed professional appraiser will assess the property based on similar, comparable properties in the neighborhood to find its value.
The appraiser will visit the house, but only to estimate the market value of the house. Lenders always schedule a home appraisal, so you can’t avoid it.
The reason is simple—a mortgage lender doesn’t want to finance a loan that’s more than fair market value. This is also helpful for you as a buyer because no buyer wants to overpay for a house.
You can skip a home appraisal if you don’t need a loan and can buy houses for cash.
» Appraisal Cost in California: A breakdown of CA home appraisal costs
A qualified home inspector will examine the property to evaluate its physical condition in a home inspection.
The inspector will look for defects that can affect the quality of life of the next homeowner and report issues accordingly.
A home buyer or a buyer agent will schedule the inspection, but it’s not mandatory. You reserve the right to say no to an inspection as a seller.
However, this could result in more days on the market, and selling your house will become difficult.
» How to Sell a House in California: Check out our detailed guide to selling your home in California.
What Should Be Done After an Inspection?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a new construction or a pre-existing home; an inspection is bound to reveal some problems.
The next step for buyers and sellers depends on the severity of the identified issues.
Next Step for Home Buyers After a California Home Inspection
If the inspector has highlighted issues that pose a financial or physical injury risk for the new occupants of the house, then a buyer has 3 options.
1. Negotiate With the Seller
As the next homeowner, negotiating after home inspection is important because not responding may mean you don’t want any repairs done.
Review the items flagged as issues in the inspection report and decide which repairs you’d want the seller to fix before closing.
While negotiating, you can also ask the seller for a concession on the sale price. Be careful with the price you quote in the counteroffer; it shouldn’t be more than the average price reduction after home inspection, which is typically 2% to 3%.
Unreasonable buyer requests after inspection can make the seller uncomfortable and may cause the transaction to fall through. Discuss with your real estate agent because they will know how to negotiate the deal better than you.
It is also important to re-inspect the house and verify if the seller made the repairs as expected. The home seller may use cheap materials as they have nothing to do with the property anymore.
» Top Real Estate Agents: Choose from top real estate agents to negotiate the deal better.
2. Pay for Repairs
If it is a hot seller’s market and the seller is not willing to negotiate after inspection, then you should consider repairing the property with your money. Review the severity of the issues and decide which repairs are mandatory.
You can skip the non-essential fixes, like replacing the backyard’s broken faucet or a poorly maintained dishwasher.
Since the house is eventually your asset, you’d be spending this money to improve the livability of the property. As you incur the repair cost, you can initiate the discussion with the seller for a reduced home sale price.
3. Terminate the Contract
This should be the last resort. Say the home inspection revealed serious issues in the house, like a faulty electrical system and rodent infestation on the hardwood floor.
Moving into such a house can be difficult. You can back out & cancel the contract. There are thousands of properties on the MLS. High-tech For Sale By Owner websites like Houzeo.com can help you find your perfect property.
» Homes for Sale in California: Find your dream home on Houzeo Marketplace
Next Steps for Home Sellers After a California Home Inspection
Typically, the next step for home sellers is either declining the buyer’s request for repairs or fixing the house. It also depends on the complexity of the problem discovered in the inspection.
Is it an old staircase that could collapse any minute? Or is the insulation of your inherited property defective?
Addressing Serious Issues
Issues that pose a health or physical injury risks should be fixed on priority. A bad roof or the presence of wood-destroying organisms like termites is a serious issue.
Your willingness to fix serious issues will make the home buyer feel confident about purchasing the house. If it’s a competitive buyer’s market, this also ensures that your house sale doesn’t fall through.
When the estimated repair cost is not reasonable, or you don’t feel like making the fixes, you can consider selling your home as-is.
Can You Sell a House As Is in California Without Inspection?
Yes! You can sell your home as-is without a house inspection.
House flippers in California and cash home buyers always scour for distressed properties on the MLS. You can market your property to such investors with a Flat Fee MLS listing on Houzeo.com.
» Flat Fee MLS California: Start your listing on Houzeo & market to buyers within 24 hours!
Using the Home Inspection as a Home Improvement Guide
As the current resident of the property, you could use the valuable information from the inspection report to improve your house. If the AC is a few years old, it is probably time to estimate the replacement cost & plan it.
A home inspection report reveals the true state of your property. After fixing the major issues highlighted in the report, you can consider staging your home to sell the property faster. Real estate photography can also improve the aesthetic appeal of your listing photos.
Repairs of severe nature can be costly and significantly increase the overall closing costs. However, such issues are worth fixing because they pose a risk to you too.
Investing in repairs, staging, and photography may help you get more than the asking price of your house. And that’s how you can recover these expenses.
🤌 Seller Closing Costs Calculator California: Calculate how much you pay at closing as a home seller
Follow-up Visit from a CA Home Inspector
A follow-up inspection or a re-inspection is scheduled after the seller makes the requested repairs of issues identified during the first inspection. An inspector is the one who verifies repairs after home inspection.
During this follow-up visit, the home inspector will look at the effectiveness of the repairs. They will only re-inspect specific aspects of the property that have been repaired or replaced.
Bottomline: Are California Home Inspections Worth It?
Yes, absolutely. A home inspection in California is worth the investment.
☑️ If You Are a Home Buyer: Home inspections save you from purchasing a damaged property & making a bad investment. As the next homeowner of the property, you will get a good idea of how much maintenance the house needs.
☑️ If You Are a Home Seller: A pre-listing home inspection can help you find the flaws of your house. This information is valuable because it will help you plan the response to potential objections from reluctant home buyers or brokers.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Do You Write a Counter Offer After a Home Inspection?
The buyer or their realtor usually writes the counteroffer based on the repairs identified in the home inspection report. Buyers can also request repair credit if the seller doesn't have enough cash for prompt repairs. A seller can also come up with a counteroffer if their home reveals defects. This can be a credit or financial concession on the home sale price.
2. How Long After California Home Inspection is Closing?
Once the buyer and seller agree on the repair costs, they will modify the California real estate contract or sale agreement and the sale will move towards closing. This takes 10 days usually. A home appraisal will also happen during this period if the buyer has a lender financing them. Closing typically involves a title search and mortgage underwriting.
3. What Does a California Home Inspection Consist of?
A California home inspection is a thorough examination of the property to assess dampness, leakage, and moisture, among other items that can compromise the health or safety of the next occupant. Anything that can be impacted by water inside or outside the property is inspected. Structural components like the foundation, exterior walls, pre-drywall, windows and doors, cabinets, etc, are examined.
4. How Long Does a Buyer Have to Back Out After an Inspection?
The buyer has the inspection contingency period to back out of the deal. It is important to know that the buyer can back out after the contingency period as well, but they will end up losing their earnest money or other penalties & that's not a risk every home buyer takes.
5. What Inspections are Needed When Buying a House?
Usually, a general home inspection is done when buying a house. Depending on the condition of the property and the severity of the issues, your home inspector may recommend an ancillary inspection like radon, asbestos, or roof inspection.
6. Who Pays for a Home Inspection During a Sale in California, and am I Required to Get One?
The home buyer will pay for the California home inspection. And although home inspections are optional, it is a good idea to get one done. Inspections can save you from buying a house that costs thousands of dollars in repairs!
7. How Often Do Buyers Back Out After Inspection?
Rarely. In the competitive real estate market, buyers are motivated to close the deal. NAR says only 5% of deals are terminated just before closing. If you arrive at a mutual decision for repairs, it is unlikely for the home buyer to back out after an inspection.
8. Does a House Have to Pass Inspection to be Sold?
No. If a house fails the inspection, it simply means it is not in its best condition. Real estate investors like cash buyers, home flippers, and those doing wholesaling in California are always looking for such distressed properties on the MLS. So, it's not the end if your home doesn't pass the inspection. You can still sell it as-is on the open market!
Eager to Know How Houzeo Works?
We’ve got you covered. Check out the following video to understand how Houzeo works and why it is one of the best For Sale By Owner websites in the U.S.
What is Houzeo?
An overview of what the platform is all about
» NEED MORE CLARITY? Read these exclusive Houzeo reviews and learn why it is one of the best FSBO sites in America.
- Things That Fail a Home Inspection: What are the things that can lead to a bad home inspection?
- How Long Does a Home Inspection Take: Inspections reveal defects, but how much time does it take?
- Home Inspection Checklist for Buyers: Inspectors will look at these areas to find flaws. Check out the full home inspection check list
- Four-Point Inspection: Find out why you need to do a 4-point inspection when you are buying an old property
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