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What really matters in a home inspection? Buying a home?

What is a home inspection?

Do I really need to have a home inspection?

How can I be sure a home inspector is qualified?

At what point in the real estate transaction should I schedule my home inspection?

What do I do with the information revealed by the home inspection?

What really matters in a home inspection? Buying a home?


The process can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, a checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this, combined with the seller's disclosure and what you notice yourself, makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?


Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies for various systems and components, and minor imperfections. These are useful to know about. However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:

Health & Safety: Items that require immediate attention or repair for Health & Safety reasons

Repair:   Items in need of repair or replacement.

Maintenance: Items in need of maintenance repair.

Upgrades: Recommended discretionary upgrades.


Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property.


Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure, or nit-picky items.

What is a home inspection?


A home inspection is a visual examination of the home's major structure, systems, and components that are visible and safely accessible.  Properly qualified certified home inspectors will substantially adhere to standards of practice that outline what should be covered during a general home inspection, as well as what is excluded. Some inspectors may strictly follow the standards of practice, while others may exceed the standards and inspect other items, or perform a more detailed inspection. Whatever the inspector includes in his or her inspection should be discussed prior to the inspection – this is known as the scope of work. The inspector should be able to provide you with a copy or online link to the standards of practice they follow.  The inspector should provide you with a written report, which may include photos and/or recommendations, of his or her findings of the inspection. 

Do I really need to have a home inspection?


Buying a home is most likely the biggest investment you will ever make.  It's important to get a home inspection because your home inspector should be able to discover and document defects that may or may not be obvious to you as a prospective buyer or seller.  Such defects can range from simple replacements or repairs to severe damage or health and safety concerns. Buyers check out Investopedia's Reasons You Shouldn't Skip a Home Inspection. Sellers may wish to read through Trulia's Should Sellers Get a Home Inspection?

How can I be sure a home inspector is qualified?


Because there is no state licensing of home inspectors in California, locating a qualified professional is imperative.  Asking the following questions can help in your search:


What are your qualifications as a home inspector? 

Stacey Tjarks, owner/operator of ProSpect, is a CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association) Certified Inspector, CCI, and an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector, CPI, with over 30 years experience in construction, city building, and home inspection.


Are you covered by professional liability insurance for home inspections? 

ProSpect is covered by Errors and Omissions and General Liability policies.


How long will the home inspection take? 

On average, we spend 1 ½ to 2 hours on-site and several more hours in the office perfecting your home inspection report. If we believe the inspection will require more or less time on-site because of square footage, outbuildings, etc. we will advise you when you schedule your appointment. Of course, we do not place an absolute time limit for your on-site service, if you (our home buyer or home seller) have questions that require more time, we will spend as much time as you need to ensure you have your answers!


Do you produce a narrative or checklist type home inspection report?

ProSpect home inspection provides a comprehensive narrative home inspection report professionally produced to meet your ongoing requirements for your investment. This means each comment is identified as a health and safety concern, an item that is broken and in need of repair, something that needs or is going to need maintenance or items that are recommended to be upgraded at your discretion. Photos are also included as needed to further clarify the location and nature of certain conditions.


Will I receive my report quickly? 

Our home inspection reports are delivered by email or on-line download within 24 hours of the on-site home inspection service. We do not prepare inspection reports on-site because we believe in giving 100% of our attention to the home and to your questions while at the residence. We will then go back to our office to give 100% of our attention to the preparation of your report without distractions. While some inspection companies advertise on-site report delivery, keep in mind that on-site preparation requires everyone to lose an additional 2 or more hours of their day watching the home inspector type into their phone or computer!


Does the home inspection company offer to do repairs or improvements to the home? 

No, this is a clear conflict of interest, a violation of California’s Business & Professions Code as well as the Code of Ethics of both CREIA and InterNACHI. For example, the InterNACHI Code of Ethics states "The InterNACHI member shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or associated services to the structure for which the member or member's company has prepared a home inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in the InterNACHI Standards of Practice."


Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? 

Yes we do! In fact, we strongly recommend you attend and accompany the inspector during your home inspection. This is a valuable opportunity for you to learn about how things work, and to see and ask about conditions found during the home inspection first hand.


Can I contact you for questions after the inspection? 

Yes, ProSpect Home Diagnostics encourages you to call us any time before or after the home inspection. You can even call  us in the future with questions you have about the house. There is no charge for phone consultations.


How much will the home inspection cost?

Costs vary depending on the size of the house, age, and scope of services. We will quote you the price for your home inspection immediately. ProSpect is neither the least expensive nor the most expensive company available. Price should be the last determining factor in selecting a home inspector — remember, you usually get what you pay for.

At what point in the real estate transaction should I schedule my home inspection?


A home inspection is usually scheduled after an offer has been made and accepted, but before the closing date. That way, the inspector can rule out any major defects that could be dangerous or costly.

What do I do with the information revealed by the home inspection?


If your home inspection reveals conditions in the home, it is important to understand the severity of the defect. For example, a missing shingle or dirty air filter can be easily fixed at a low cost. However, if the defect is more serious, such as a major foundation crack, a cut truss in the attic or the possibility of mold, you should find out how these challenges can be addressed. As the buyer, you may be able to negotiate the repair cost with the seller. If you are the seller who has invested in a sellers/listing inspection you can take the time to get estimates for repair and determine whether you want to have the condition fixed before you put the home on the market, or work with your agent to adjust the asking price taking the needed repair into consideration.

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