Buying a home is a monumental investment and often one of the most important purchases a person can make in their lifetime. It stands to reason then, that a buyer should investigate the exact condition of the property being purchased. Therefore the buyer's second most important purchase is to have the property thoroughly inspected by a qualified property inspector.
And the standards are set forth your national or local association such as the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) as well as legislative Business and Practices Codes.
As an association's certified inspector I must do a survey and basic operation of the systems and components of a building. The purpose of the inspection is to provide the client with information regarding the general condition of the structure(s). Cosmetic and aesthetic conditions are not considered.
Inspectors also have to provide written documentation of major defects discovered in the inspected building's systems and components. If, in my opinion, there are safety hazards, systems are not functioning properly or appear to be at the ends of their service lives, then I am responsible to report it and make recommendations for correction or further evaluation.
Of course, the issue for homebuyers is to find a "qualified" property inspector. There are several ways to go about this.
First of all, know that any professional inspector will be a member of one of the major inspection associations and will have professional liability insurance. Only hire a inspector with at least those qualifications.
Then, get recommendations. You can ask friends or other real estate professionals who have had first-hand experience with a thorough inspector or you can ask your broker to recommend inspectors they know to be thorough and competent. If you are a home buyer and you feel that there is a potential conflict of interest ask a different agent who hasn't any vested interest in your transaction for their recommendation of qualified inspectors.
Property inspections are not technically exhaustive; so discuss the limitations, exceptions and exclusions prior to hiring an inspector.
Ultimately, the responsibility to be informed falls on the shoulders of the buyer. And, to be truly informed the inspector may recommend hiring additional specialists to further investigate one or more of the building's major systems such as the chimney, roof or heater, or to check for the presence of mold.
Here is an example for the need of an additional specialist. A family of six moved into a home and a couple of days later the sewage was backing up into the house. A video inspection revealed a blockage in the line that let just enough sewage through so that the elderly couple that had sold the house never knew of the issue. That repairs cost $2,000. Since the sewer line is hidden completely underground it is always smart to have this system inspected by a specialist with a video camera.
With the situations I've seen as a home inspector I definitely feel that the money spent on home inspections and other specialty inspections are worth the investment.
Buildings are complicated structures with many systems and components that can be very costly to repair. You can reduce the risk of unwanted and expensive surprises by doing investigations with professionals.
For more information, call LaRocca at (818) 951-1795 or www.LaRoccaInspect.com.