Once you’ve made an offer on a home in California, the next step is to appraise and inspect the property. A home inspection uncovers any defects in the property or safety hazards that a resident may face.
The most common issues found in California homes are water damage or leaky roofs. According to one study, 86% of people who conducted a home inspection found at least one issue.
Why do you need a home inspection?
- It identifies structural issues and defects: You identify material defects in the property’s roof, or walls, and basement. You can also uncover pest infestations or problems in mechanical and electrical systems.
- You avoid making a bad investment: Identifying such defects early on can save you from buying a damaged property.
- It helps you reduce the asking price: In multiple cases where issues were found after a home inspection, buyers were able to negotiate down the sale price.
- The inspection report can get you a good deal: As per a study by Porch.com, homebuyers saved $14,000 on their purchase by leveraging the home inspection report!
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an examination of a property’s material condition. You can hire a home inspector to perform the property inspection and draw up a report.
The home inspection report informs you about any defects or safety hazards present on the property. Depending on the inspection report, you can negotiate and bring down the sale price. Likewise, you can back out of the deal if the severity of the defects is high.
Sometimes, buyers tend to confuse a house inspection with an appraisal. But both are done for different reasons. In fact, you can skip an inspection but not an appraisal when buying a house in California.
House Inspection vs. Appraisal
While a home inspection detects any material issues in a property, a home appraisal will find the property’s fair market value. Although both are different examinations related to a property, a home inspection’s result can affect the appraised dollar amount.
For instance, if the inspection report finds a major issue in the foundation of the property which cannot be easily fixed, it can affect the home’s value negatively.
What Does a Home Inspection Cover in California?
There are 2 types of real estate inspections, general and specialized. While a general inspection includes an overall examination of the property, a specialized inspection will look at a single aspect in detail.
Here’s what both types of inspection cover:
General Home Inspection
A general house inspection will find any defects that can be identified visually. It primarily covers:
- Foundation Inspection: An inspection of the home’s foundation for cracks, mildew, damaged floorboards, and more.
- Garage Inspection: Involves examination of garage walls and foundation, doors, fire safety, etc.
- Wall Inspection: Identifies cracks, mold, and damage caused by water, air, or heat.
- Roof Inspection: It is an examination of the home’s roof for mold, water leakage, structural issues, wear and tear by natural elements, or more.
- Grading Inspection: This inspection concerns the slope of the ground surrounding the house. It is performed to ensure that the rainwater or floodwater flows away from the house or towards a drain.
- Electrical Inspection: It identifies faulty electrical wiring, overloaded circuits, or lack of earthing.
- HVAC Inspection: A testing of HVAC appliances to check their electrical components, failures, airflow, maintenance, etc.
- Plumbing Inspection: It is an inspection of the home’s sinks and toilets, and its water pipelines for leakages, water or chemical corrosion, damaged fitting, etc.
- Kitchen Inspection: It includes an inspection of cooking equipment, electrical kitchen appliances, a general hygiene and safety check, and more.
If a home inspector finds out that a certain aspect of the property needs a thorough examination by an expert, they may recommend one or a few of the following inspections:
- Asbestos inspection: It is an examination to identify the presence of asbestos materials on a property. The inspector may use special tools or analyzers to find traces of asbestos.
- Radon inspection: The inspection covers the levels of radon in the water, air, or soil surrounding the property. If found beyond a certain level, radon can become a safety hazard.
- Lead-based paint inspection: It is a risk assessment where an inspector performs a visual check of the property for the presence of lead-based paint. If found, the toxic levels of lead are examined to ensure that it does not pose a safety hazard.
- Termite inspection: This inspection involves an examination of the interior and exterior areas of the home for visible signs of termite infestation. These signs include pest droppings, broken and damaged wood, and more.
- Mold inspection: It identifies the presence of mold in the home, including what type of mold is present in the house. Too much exposure to mold can cause respiratory problems and infections, that can sometimes be life-threatening.
- Chimney inspection: A basic chimney inspection involves a visual examination of the fireplace and chimney for any obstructions, soot, or buildup. The inspector can suggest you sweep the chimney if required.
- Septic tank inspection: This inspection involves a check of the septic tank, leach field, and distribution box. The inspector will also check the grading and whether the effluent enters and leaves the tank properly.
- 4-Point Inspection: This inspection primarily examines the HVAC, roofing, plumbing, and electrical systems.
Why Get a Home Inspection in California?
A real estate home inspection report allows you to invoke the inspection contingency. An inspection contingency is a clause mentioned in your purchase agreement or California FSBO contract.
An inspection contingency gives you the right to negotiate the terms of the sale depending on the house inspection’s outcome. This includes negotiating down the selling price or compensating for repair costs. You can also back out of the deal entirely within 7 to 10 days, as cited in the contract.
If you waive your right to get an inspection, you also waive your right to cancel the contract based on your home inspection report.
That’s why, getting an inspection is an essential step when buying a house. It will protect you from investing in a house that would otherwise cost you thousands in repairs.
Lastly, most lenders recommend a property inspection report before sanctioning your loan. The only instance when a home inspection is not required is when selling a house as is in California.
What do Home Inspectors Look for in California?
In a general home inspection, an inspector checks the following to assess the overall physical condition of a property:
- Home’s Exterior: Involves examination of foundation, walls, garage, roof, grading, drainage, stairways, driveways, walkways, doors, windows, patio, deck, balconies, and fence.
- Home’s Interior: Involves inspection of the plumbing system, electrical system, HVAC, basement, ceiling, floor, kitchen, and attic.
Questions to Ask a California Home Inspector
Most real estate agents and mortgage lenders recommend you be present for the house inspection. Further, you should also keep a home inspection checklist ready, to ensure that all the necessary aspects you wish to be examined are covered.
During the California real estate home inspection, a buyer can walk around with the inspector and ask any questions about the property’s condition. Here’s a list of 10 essential questions you must ask a home inspector:
- How many inspections have you done in the past?
- How much does a house inspection cost in California?
- Do the foundation and walls of this house need repairs?
- Are the plumbing and sewage systems working in their ideal condition?
- Are the HVAC and other electrical systems maintained properly?
- Do you think there are some concerning defects in the property that could be a safety hazard?
- What do you think would need immediate repairs, and how much would it cost?
- Does this house need any specialized inspection?
- Do you have any tips on maintaining the home’s systems?
- Does the inspection report come with pictures?
- 📝 A Home Inspector isn’t Your Buying Advisor: A California house inspector can only provide you with information about the property’s defects and suggestions to repair them. They cannot tell you whether to buy the property or not.
What Happens After a Home Inspection in California?
Once the home inspection is complete, four possible scenarios could unfold:
- You close on the sale: You may end up buying the property as agreed upon, without making any changes to the asking price.
- The seller makes the necessary repairs: Sometimes, sellers can fix some issues found in the inspection report before closing.
- The final sale price is reduced: You can negotiate with the seller to reduce the asking price by the amount that would go into repairs.
- You cancel the deal: If an issue is discovered that is a safety hazard, you can walk out on the deal.
A real estate inspection report can identify multiple issues, even trivial ones like a broken tap or a cracked tile. Reconsider your purchase based on the severity of the issues, and not on the number in the inspection report.
Bottom Line: Do I Need a Home Inspection in California?
Yes, performing a home inspection on the property that you’ll be buying is not just a clever choice, but also a need. In order to make an informed decision as to what you’re investing your money in, you need a property inspection.
Also, you can lower the asking price by leveraging the defects found in the real estate inspection report. By doing this, homeowners have saved almost $14,000!
» Need a Home Inspection? Check out California Home Inspectors Near Me
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long does a home inspection take in California?
A home inspection generally takes about 2 to 4 hours in California, depending on the size of the property.
» How Long Does a Home Inspection Take: Understand what happens during the time it takes to inspect a house
2. Does home inspection affect appraisal in California?
Yes, a home inspection can affect the appraisal, but only if the home inspector finds some major defects that affect the property's value negatively.
3. Who pays for home inspection in California, buyer or seller?
Buyers pay for home inspections if they perform one after making an offer. Sellers can also pay for an inspection if they conduct it before listing a home on MLS.