As a home buyer it’s essential to do your due diligence thoroughly, which can and should include a general home inspection at a minimum. The standard due diligence period is 17 days here in the California Residential Purchase Agreement (but negotiable in the contract), and there are a number of things a prudent buyer should consider in doing their property investigation.
General Home Inspection
I think this is mandatory. Anyone not doing a complete home inspection before they buy is taking a huge risk. You want to know about any defects, repairs that have been done or need to be done, and in general become familiar with what you are buying.
This is often a good idea especially if the roof is older and/or the home inspector identifies potential problems (leaks, crack tiles, missing shingles). Home inspectors are NOT roofing experts. Roof repairs, and worse a new roof, can be expensive.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning)
An HVAC inspection is also a good idea if the furnace and/or AC have not been serviced recently or are older. And of course if the inspector identifies potential problems (e.g., incorrect installation of a furnace, a questionable furnace model like the Premier, an AC unit that does not cool sufficiently) hiring an HVAC professional to get the low down on any problems and the costs of repairs or replacement is essential. HVAC components are expensive and you want to know up front if repairs or replacement is needed.
Plumbing and Electrical
It’s not unusual for there to be minor defects noted by the home inspector, but serious concerns regarding leaks, cracks in pipes, poorly or incorrectly installed wiring and electrical boxes all warrant further investigation by a licensed electrician or plumber. These can be major safety issues.
Well and Septic Systems
Homes with wells and septic systems in our area are rare but if the home you want to buy has either or both, you need to get the appropriate inspections done and know that the systems are functioning correctly. Problems with these can be costly (a new septic system could be $12,000 or more) and lenders may require verification that systems have been inspected and are in good working order.
Pools and Spas
If you are buying a home with either or both you need to have a qualified professional evaluate them. Problems with either, but especially a pool, can be expensive, whether it’s a crack, leaking pipes, or a faulty filtration system.
It’s common in our area for buyers to ask the seller to do the termite inspection as part of the contract, but if for some reason they won’t, you will want to do one during the inspection period. Termites are very common and can cause major problems. And some lenders will require a termite clearance. You may need to check for other pests, too, like bees, ants, and rodents.
While not common, there may be concerns raised about structural or foundation issues (e.g., cracked slab, settlement in different areas of the house, cracked walls) and these should be checked out by a structural engineer. These issues can impact the integrity of the entire home and a cracked slab can be very expensive to repair, and may preclude any sort of loan.
While the home inspector may provide some information about the fireplace and any issues noted, having the fireplace checked by a professional makes sense.
The choices of inspections are, of course, yours, and should be based on a prudent consideration of potential defects and needed repairs that can be costly, and which might result in a decision to move on, rather than to purchase the home. Be aware that some of these inspections will cost additional money, depending on the vendor
That said, you should expect that ANY home inspection will likely reveal of number of deferred maintenance issues and/or defects – it happens with every house. And that’s the information you want to know as a prudent home buyer.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the home buying process and inspections, or about the housing market in general. Please feel free to give me a call at (760) 840-1360 to discuss any questions or for assistance with your home search and purchase.