Whether you’re buying an older home or new construction in the Torrance or the South Bay, a home inspection is an absolute necessity. A home inspection will assess the building code conformity as well as all the systems and structural components that make up the building, such as:
- Structural elements, foundation, framing etc
- Plumbing systems
- Electrical systems
- Heating and Cooling systems
- Cosmetic condition, paint, siding, etc.
- General Environmental Issues.
When you’ve decided upon the South Bay home you want to buy and you’re about to sign the Offer To Purchase real estate contract, make sure there is an inspection contingency in that contract allowing you to get your own professional Home Inspection. “Pre-Selling” or “Pre-Listing” inspections are not common, however, in some cases, a savvy seller may have had their own structural inspection done which they usually will provide to a prospective home buyer. If they are wise, they will have arranged to have any discovered problems corrected.
However, I still insist that my buyer clients have his or her own independent inspection done. Normally, upon acceptance of the Offer To Purchase, you will have 17 days to have the inspection completed, analyze the report and respond to the seller. We will be your eyes and ears at the structural inspection should it not be possible for you to be present yourself.
In the event that hidden problems are revealed through the structural inspection process, you may do one of two things:
- If the inspection reveals conditions that change your desire to buy the home, you may terminate the purchase agreement by notifying the seller in writing and provide a copy of the inspection report disclosing the problems.
- You may submit a list of the problems discovered in the inspection report, known as a request for repair, to the seller and request that the seller make the necessary corrections and repairs before the deal is closed, or adjust the price accordingly.
The Inspection Report
When you interview a home inspector, ask him what type of report format he provides. There are several types of reports used by inspectors, such as computer generated reports, the checklist format and the narrative style report. Some reports are completed and generated on site and some may take up to a week to complete. There are good and bad points to all of these formats.
Make sure that the inspector will take pictures that explain their descriptions and potential problems.
Hire an inspector that gives detailed descriptions of the home and potential problems instead of vauge and easily missinterpreted descriptions.
“Bathroom Shower Enclosure: Condition – Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rust stains, or chips in enamel finish. Recommend sealing drain and pan at base of tile.”
As you can see, this narrative description includes a recommendation for repair. Narrative reports without recommendations for repairing deficient items may be difficult to interpret, should your knowledge of construction be limited.
Make sure, if you do not understand something, that you ask questions. Items in the inspection report that are not serious quite often can be interpreted by a nonprofessional to be a major factor. A good home inspector should be able to put things into perspective and answer all your questions. If for some reason a question cannot be answered at the time of the inspection, the inspector should research the question and obtain the answer for you.
Take the time to become familiar with your home inspection report. If the report has a legend, key, symbols or icons, read and understand them thoroughly. The more information provided to you about the property, the easier it will be to understand the overall condition. If possible, try to be present when the inspector is doing the inspection. You do not have to be there during the entire process, but if you can walk through with the inspector at the end so he can show you the findings of the structural inspection, you will learn a great deal about the home you are about to purchase.