When you buy a house in California, you’re not just buying that beautiful master suite or spectacular fireplace, you’re also buying any problems lurking in the walls, the foundation, the crawl space or the attic. The home inspection is your chance to avoid those problems, or at least, use the results to negotiate with the seller.
A certified home inspector is a professional who will conduct an inspection of the general condition of the home. An inspection will assist you in understanding exactly what they are about to acquire. As a home buyer in California, you know that buying a house is a significant investment. It’s incredibly important to know what you are purchasing. Having a certified home inspector conduct an inspection should be compared to taking out an insurance policy against all potential operating costs.
There are different types of home inspection processes that you may want completed before the purchase of a home. First and most importantly, you want a general or residential inspection performed on the home. A home may look move in ready, but an inspector will cover features of the house such as the roofing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, ventilation, as well as structural features of the home and may unveil issues that are not readily noticeable. Once the inspection is completed, the home inspector will generally provide the buyer with a report suggesting any improvements or repairs deemed necessary to bring the home up to current standards. Home inspections may often reveal problems with a home that could be pricey to fix.
However, a home inspector’s standard practice typically does not usually include the following, for which a specific license to inspect and identify may be required:
- Radon, Methane, Radiation, and Formaldehyde
- Wood-Destroying Organisms(this requires a licensed pest control technician)
- Mold, Mildew, and Fungi
Home Inspection Checklist—Items Needing Service
Home inspection reports do not describe the condition of every component if it’s in excellent shape, but should note every item that is defective or needing service. The serious problems are:
- Health and safety issues (within reason)
- Roofs with a short life expectancy
- Furnace or A/C malfunctions
- Foundation deficiencies
- Moisture or drainage issues
Prepare for Professional Inspection
- Foundation: Look at the base of the walls and the ceilings in each room. Are there obvious cracks or apparent shifts in the foundation? Do the same around the outside. Are there any trees encroaching on the foundation?
- Lot: Does the drainage appear to be away from the house? Are there any obvious soggy areas?
- Roof: What is the overall condition? When was it last replaced?
- Exterior: Does the house look like it will need repairs or repainting soon? Are gutters and downspouts firmly attached? Are there loose boards or dangling wires? Is there asbestos in the exterior material, which would require added costs if it needed to be repaired or replaced?
- Attic: How does the interior of the roof structure look? Are there any signs of leaks?
- Interior evidence of leaks: Check ceilings and around windows in each room.
- Basement/Crawlspace: Is there dampness? Adequate insulation?
- Electrical: Do the switches work? Are there any obvious malfunctions? Have the outlets been grounded? Is the panel updated and expandable for additional appliances or a potential remodel?
- Plumbing: Any unusual noises or malfunctions? Has the sewer line been scoped to check for potential cracks?
- Appliances: If these are included, what is the age and condition of the stove, dishwasher or refrigerator?
- Heating/cooling system: Does it seem to do the job? How old is the furnace? If the system has been converted, are the old systems or tanks still in place?
- Odor: Does the home smell? Can you detect what it might be and whether it could be fixed? Beware of musty odors which could signal a hidden water leak.
Plan on being present for the inspection. Your agent should be right there with you the entire time. Chances are the seller’s agent will be there, too, to help get any quick answers the inspector might need. Block off the entire morning or afternoon. Home inspections take time and you don’t want to rush through it. During this time, follow along as much as you can. Take notes if needed. Ask questions you feel are necessary.
You’re not being bothersome. Inspectors will explain your home’s systems and give you maintenance tips. Those should also be in the final report, along with pictures, but hearing and seeing as the inspection is in progress is helpful. The day of inspection will probably feel like a whirlwind of activity.
After you receive the detailed findings, you should evaluate and decide if any issues are deal-breakers, such as serious structural defects. You may choose to repair minor fixes yourself to avoid nitpicking with the seller. For intermediate issues, such as water-damaged carpet, discuss with your agent. You can make terms with the seller to pay for repairs or give credit at closing so that you can choose the contractors and materials you prefer. An inspection will make you fully aware of exactly what your dollars are buying you and is just as much an investment as the property itself.
At Golden State Mortgage, we are a California based mortgage company, and specialize in FHA home loans for first time home buyers. FHA loans are a great option for first time home buyers and if this is your first home purchase then a California FHA home loans are probably your best option due to the low down payment and easier credit standards. Your down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price, and closing costs and fees can be covered by the seller. Call Lone Star Financing today at 1-800-585-6886 or fill out the quick contact form to speak with a California FHA loan consultant and get a free good faith estimate.