There are some things in life that shouldn’t be done as a favor by a relative or family friend. As you can see below, wedding photography is at the top of that list. Other things on that list include, but are not limited to: haircuts, tattoos, and home inspections.
A home is the largest investment most of us will ever make. It’s unlike any other purchase. When you buy a car for instance, there is a certain comfort in buying it from a dealership; if anything goes wrong you have some recourse. But when you buy a home, it’s normally from the previous owner and there really isn’t much you can do if you find that you’ve been duped. Of course, you can always call your lawyer, but in those cases, the lawyer is the only one that comes out ahead.
Having your home inspected is a worthwhile investment and it should be done by a professional. So what should you look for in a home inspector?
Did you know that the State of California does not require any sort of certification for home inspectors? That means that anybody and I mean anybody could be poking around your crawlspace.
Luckily, San Diego has several home inspection companies who advertise certifications from respected trade associations. Be careful through, the company owner may hold impressive certifications, but that doesn’t mean the person they are sending does. Ask the inspection company for the name and credentials of the person they plan to send. The larger, more respected home inspector associations will have an easily accessable online data base for just this reason.
Any numbers of general contractors offer home inspections as a side business. Although GC’s have the education and experience to perform the inspection, I don’t recommend using them. Why? There are two reasons: 1. It is unlikely that they hold the appropriate insurance, again leaving you with little recourse if things go sideways. 2. They have skin in the game. In other words, they stand to benefit from “necessary” repairs. Unwittingly you could end up paying $2000 for a new electrical panel when simply changing out a $50 breaker would have been sufficient.
Some real estate brokerages have an in-house inspector who will perform the inspection at a very reasonable price or even included in their over-all service. Promise me you won’t fall for this. As honest and as ethical as your agent might be, having the agency’s employee do the inspection does all but ensure that serious defects are likely to be either ignored or glossed over. No one at the agency gets paid unless you buy the house – how likely is it that the inspector will be objective? Feel free to get referrals from your real estate agent, but hire an independant inspection company that will be objective and loyal to you and only you.
What Is Included
Find out what is actually included in your home inspection. Too many home inspectors have fallen in love with technology and the use of drones has become all too common. Although a drone can be useful tool, they should only be used when the roof is inaccessible or walking on it is likely to cause damage. Physically walking on a roof can expose problems or potential problems that simply viewing it cannot. For instance, in cathedral ceilings the space between the drywall and the roof sheathing is often less than 4 inches and if not properly designed and engineered moisture can get trapped in between causing the roof sheathing to become brittle. Only walking on that roof can expose that defect.
Home inspectors will confess that the worst part of the inspection is examining the crawlspace. We are regularly battling snakes, raccoons, black widows and any number of other creatures in order to get a good look at the underside of your house. Like the drone for the roof, RC cars fitted with a camera are used more and more for the crawlspace. Again, viewing the subfloor through a camera lens is not the same as being there. An RC car can’t tell the difference between ten year old water stains from a leak long since addressed and an active leak. You could end up passing on the perfect house because your home inspector was too lazy to get under that house where they can test that water stain with a moisture meter and a screw driver.
Every home buyer wants a house that is structurally sound, resistant to the elements, and safe for their family. Having your home inspected by a qualified, professional inspector can help to ensure that the home you’re buying can meet those expectations. The money you’ll spend on a professional home inspector will be forgotten in a few short months, but a serious defect gone undetected can taint every minute spent in that home for years to come.