What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a professional, complete visual examination of the all the systems and physical structural elements of a home. Our emphasis is on identifying existing or potential problems that would affect a purchasers buying decision.

Why do I need a Home Inspection?

A home is the largest purchase most people will ever make. It only makes sense to find out as much as you can about the house you are interested in before you buy. That way you can avoid costly surprise repairs and problems with your new home. Our report will also advise you of what maintenance is required to keep your home in top condition. A professional inspection will give you a clear picture of the many systems and structural elements that make up the property. If you are selling your home, a listing inspection will point out any potential problems that might be uncovered later by the buyers inspector. Finding them early will allow you to address them before listing your home, making for a faster and smoother sale.

What does a Home Inspection include?

Our standard inspection report covers all the major systems and structural elements of the house. This includes the condition of the homes heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, roof, foundation, attic and visible insulation, walls, doors, windows and all visible structures.

Do I need to be there during the Inspection?

No, you arent required to be there for the inspection. But we highly recommend that you be present. Its a valuable learning experience for most people and will help you get the most benefit from the inspection. By following the inspector you can ask questions directly and the inspector can explain maintenance tips for specific areas. We feel youll be able to best understand the finished report and get the most benefit from it by having been there during the inspection.

How long will the Inspection take?

The time will vary depending on both the size and condition of the home. For most homes, 2 hours is pretty typical. But for larger homes, or homes in poor condition, it may take longer.

Does a newly constructed home need an Inspection?

Absolutely. A professional inspection of a new home is important. We can spot potential problems early, while they are still easy to correct. Its especially valuable to arrange an inspection before the interior walls are finished. As building professionals, we may find problem areas where the builder has taken shortcuts or not done good work.

Why cant I do the Inspection myself?

Chances are that even if you are very familiar with home construction, you still dont have the knowledge, training and experience of a professional Home Inspector. Weve inspected thousands of homes. We are not only familiar with all the systems of a home, and how they work and need to be maintained, but we also know what to look for to tell us that they are getting ready to fail. But beyond the technical expertise and experience a professional inspector brings, it is important to remember that the inspector remains an impartial third party. If you are involved in buying or selling a house, its impossible for you to remain completely unemotional about the house, and this may cloud your judgment. The professional inspector will provide an objective outside reporting of the facts.

What if the Inspection uncovers problems?

Our report will tell you the condition of the house, including needed repairs and expenses. No house is going to be perfect. It is up to you to decide how any problems the inspection uncovers might affect your decision to purchase. If major problems are discovered, you may want to try negotiating with the seller to have them repaired before closing the deal. Or perhaps the seller will lower the price, or offer more favorable contract terms. In the end, the decision rests with you, but knowing about potential problems, before you buy, gives you the power to negotiate and make the best decisions.

Will you fix the problems you find during the Inspection?

No. The code of ethics of The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) prohibits its members from doing repair work on properties they inspect. This assures that there will never be any conflict of interest by the inspector. Our purpose is to provide an unbiased, objective third party report on the condition of the home.

Do I need an Engineer or a Home Inspector?

You need a home inspector. When you hire a home inspector, you are hiring an experienced professional who has training and experience in the building industry. It is the job of the home inspector to not only evaluate the condition of the house’s major systems and structural integrity, but also to evaluate how these systems are working together and identify areas that need to be watched, repaired or replaced.

Your home inspector gives you the Big Picture analysis of the house you are purchasing. If the home inspector identifies the need for a costly, detailed analysis of any of the houses’ systems or structures, the inspector will recommend the appropriate professional, which may be an experienced engineer with expertise analyzing that particular system or structure. The need for this kind of expensive, detailed analysis is rare.

Hiring a Professional Engineer on your own can be a disappointing experience. The term Professional Engineer does not mean that the individual has training or experience conducting home inspections. Additionally, a home inspection does not involve engineering analysis. Therefore, hiring a Professional Engineer to complete a home inspection undoubtedly costs more, but it may not give you the results you desire and deserve.

What is a manufactured home and how does it differ from a modular home?

A manufactured home (also known as a mobile home) is a single or multi-sectional home built on a permanent frame, like a steel undercarriage/chassis, with a removable transportation system (hitch and wheels). The unit is permanently attached to a site-built foundation and is subject to the 1976 federal standards established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

A modular home is constructed in a factory using conventional home floor joists and delivered to a site on a trailer or flat bed truck. The delivered home may be in the form of panels that are assembled at the site, may be pre-cut and assembled on site, or may be pre-built and delivered in one piece. The home, panels or pre-cut panels are lifted from the trailer and attached to a foundation. A modular home may be single or multi-storied. Modular homes are not subject to HUD standards, but must be built to state and local Uniform Building Codes.

Home and Property Owner Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I know the condition of my roof?

A: A noticeably worn out roof is an easy call to make, but a roof that is only starting to age is a more subtle defect that a professional home inspector can uncover. Because the resurfacing of a roof can costs thousands of dollars, eliminating problems before they start is smart. For a potential home buyer, a roof needing to be resurfaced in the foreseeable future may be a negotiable item to a sales transaction.

Tar and gravel roofs, also known as built-up roofs, are among the most common of all roof types. They are installed on countless homes and on the majority of commercial buildings. The most frequent concern with built-up gravel roofing is the need for periodic maintenance to retain gravel coverage on all surfaces. Sun exposure to bare spots can lead to deterioration and shortened longevity of the roof membrane.

Another common roof problem is ponding — standing water that results from inadequate pitch of the roof. This can be due to substandard framing at the time of construction or sagging of the roof structure. Ponding can also result from blocked roof drains; so it is important to keep the roof free of debris and foreign objects.

A detailed roof evaluation is a standard part of every competent home inspection. Home inspectors typically inspect a roof by walking on the surface, as this is the best way to observe and evaluate all pertinent conditions. There are some conditions that could keep an inspector off the roof (barring these circumstances, a competent inspector should include a walk on the roof):

The surface is too steep to provide safe footing
The surface is too high for access with a normal length ladder
The roofing is so deteriorated that foot traffic would cause further damage
Surface conditions such as snow, ice, moisture, or moss make the roof too slippery
The roofing consists of tiles that might break under foot pressure
The sellers have ordered the inspector to stay off the roof

Q: What are the earthquake strap requirements for water heaters?

A: Unfortunately, divergent methods and opinions abound among those who install, inspect, or approve various kinds of strapping. At the root of the problem is a lack of adequate notification by the state agency responsible for the advent of current seismic standards.

Since 1982, the Uniform Plumbing Code has mandated seismic safety straps for most water heaters. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent fire, explosion, or water damage if a water heater should topple during an earthquake. Originally, the code merely stated that water heaters “shall be anchored or strapped to resist horizontal displacement due to earthquake motion.” But no installation standards were included with this code. Types of hardware and methods of attachment were left to the discretion of the installer.

In the 1990’s, strapping requirements were upgraded. According to the newer code, “Strapping shall be at points within the upper one-third and lower one-third” of the water heater. To date, this is all the plumbing code has to offer on the subject. Two straps are required, but there are still no specifications as to techniques and materials to be employed.

Unknown to many, however, is the fact that the plumbing code, as it relates to water heater strapping, has been superceded by higher standards set forth by the California Health and Safety Code. In 1989, Assembly Bill 1890 was passed by the state legislature, establishing the following health and safety standards: (1) All water heaters sold in California shall be braced. (2) Manufacturers of water heaters must provide installation instructions for seismic straps with each fixture sold; (3) The Office of the State Architect must prepare generic installation instructions with standard details illustrating minimum standards for earthquake strapping.

The State Architect’s specifications, published in 1992, stand as the legal criteria for adequate strapping of water heaters in California.  Unfortunately, efficient communication is not the hallmark of common bureaucratic practice, and in keeping with this deficiency, individuals at the state level seemingly neglected to inform building departments, home inspectors, and plumbing contractors that new seismic standards had taken effect. Consequently, years have transpired since the inception of current state guidelines. Violations and misapplications remain commonplace, because professionals who should have been advised remain unaware that new statutes have been established.

Basically, the effective standards are these:

All water heaters must be strapped, whether gas or electric.
Two straps are needed, one in the upper one-third and one in the lower one-third of the fixture.
Straps may consist of either plumbers’ tape (at least 24 gauge) or half-inch diameter metal conduit.
Straps should wrap all the way around the body of the water heater. (Note: Many of the strapping kits available in hardware stores fail to comply with this requirement.)
Straps should be secured to adjacent walls and from opposing directions.
Straps should be secured to the wall studs using 1/4″ diameter by 3″ long lag bolts with washers.

Dissemination of the foregoing protocols is essential and long overdue. To obtain an illustrated copy of these standards, contact the Building Standards Commission at (916) 445-1230. Ask for a copy of “Earthquake Bracing of Water Heaters for Residential Use.”

Q: Should I get my fireplace inspected?

Both CREIA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend a yearly, professional inspection to include the checking of chimney, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by creosote and debris. Leakage through cracks or holes could cause black stains in the outside of the chimney and flue. These stains mean that pollutants are leaking into the house. Most people are not aware that a fireplace inadequately maintained and vented can produce more carbon monoxide infiltration into the home’s interior than several furnaces and water heater flue vents combined.

Several problems may occur at the chimney and firebox that the average homeowner is unaware, such as corroded or inoperable metal smoke damper, a damaged metal ash dump cover, eroded mortar joints at the rear and side interior hearth fire brick walls and base, inadequate hearth extension, improper clearance from combustible materials at the hearth opening or at the chimney within the attic space, a cracked flue liner or no flue liner at all especially at older chimneys, a damaged cement cap at the chimney top which can allow moisture intrusion into the chimney interior chase ultimately deteriorating the entire system. Also, there is the possibility that the ash dump pit is overfilled, the exterior clean-out cast iron cover is missing or below exterior grade or under the house within the foundation crawl space area (which is no longer an approved location as the spillage of hot ashes under a home presents a distinct fire hazard). The chimney top should be equipped with a weather capped spark arrestor to help prevent seasonal moisture intrusion into the chimney interior and the escape of hot embers when operating the fireplace. This is very important when the home has a wood shingle or shake roof covering.

Consider the following advice when looking to hire a fireplace specialist: check to see if the company or individual you call is a member of a state chimney guild or association; check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if there is a record of any complaints; and most important, do not allow the fireplace/chimney inspector perform corrective work for any defects that are reported (this is a conflict of interest). Get a written report from the inspection specialist, then hire and then hire a state licensed masonry contractor to do the actual repair work.

Q: What’s the best way to “winterize” my home?

A: The most destructive element to a home’s structural health is moisture infiltration through openings in the building envelope. Water is insidious in its efforts to find even the smallest crack and attack any and all cellulose materials, which includes the both exterior and interior coverings including the structural framing members — often resulting in “dry rot” (a misleading term because continual moisture contact with wood usually results in “wet rot” which is the breakdown of cellulose materials).

Another area of concern when dealing with moisture infiltration is pest infestation — the invasion of wood destroying insects, carpenter ants and wood eating beetles that thrive on cellulose materials. And of course, moisture problems can also lead to mold.

If your home has inadequate grade slope away from the perimeter foundation, there may be the possibility of water intrusion into the foundation’s crawl space area, which can be compounded if the home contains below grade rooms and storage areas.

The most common means of moisture intrusion noted by home inspectors in California are through the following avenues: gaining entry below the structure; worn roof coverings; deteriorated roof vent flashing serving both plumbing fixtures and mechanical equipment; improperly installed or worn chimney flashing; and doors and windows that have not been properly weather sealed.

Below is a simple list of maintenance tasks for the homeowner to perform to help prevent moisture infiltration both into and below their homes:

Clean all rain gutters, including downspouts, and make sure all gutter joints are properly sealed.
Insure that rain gutter downspouts are directed away from the perimeter foundation. This may take adding some corrugated plastic extension piping you can purchase at your local home store.
Check to see there are no low areas around the home’s perimeter foundation where water can collect after a rainstorm. Standing water will eventually work its way beneath the home and can lead to building settlement and foundation support failure.
Carefully check all of your exterior doors and windows and adjacent trim to see if they need any application of exterior type epoxy or sealants.
Immediately after the first heavy rain, check under your house to confirm that the ground is reasonably dry.
If you think the surface grade around the perimeter foundation is a source for concern and more than you can fix with a garden shovel, consult a state licensed drainage contractor for their recommendations – they will provide a cost estimate for corrective work which may include the installation of an underground drainage system.

Q: What is “toxic mold”?

A: While the existence of toxic molds in the environment has been documented for centuries, due to modern construction practices, poor quality control and a lack of proper maintenance, they are now linked to illnesses and other medical disorders that are affecting the lives of families across the continent. Most of the attention regarding toxic molds has been focused on the compromised health and shattered lives of the home’s occupants along with the inevitable litigation that follows. What has been missing throughout all this firestorm of media activity is discussion regarding the conditions contributing to toxic mold manifestation.

There are many factors leading to fungal development within a structure. The primary cause is water intrusion; a fungal contamination requires several conditions in order to survive and grow. There must be a moisture source, limited ventilation and a food source that is commonly any cellulose substrate on which the fungal contamination can grow on and become a colony. The typical gestation period for a mold colony is only 12 to 48 hours from the onset of spore exposure to the cellulose substrate.

When dealing with a possible toxic mold contamination inside a structure, the first course of action is to locate the moisture source and remediate it. There are several common areas of moisture intrusion to consider, such as;

Roof leaks
Plumbing leaks
Poorly maintained heating and cooling systems
Window and door leaks
Improperly adjusted landscape sprinklers as well as many other possible sources

Homes should be thoroughly reviewed, including an inspection of the roofing materials and penetrations, such as heating and plumbing vents. Other common leakage areas, such as chimney and/or skylight flashings should also be examined. Exterior wall penetrations, such as windows and door openings, electrical fixtures and receptacle boxes, should be examined for signs of water intrusion as well. Additionally, the plumbing system, including pipes in crawl spaces and attics should be thoroughly reviewed for signs of leakage. All heating and cooling equipment should be operated and inspected for signs of moisture intrusion, and or creation. Harper explained that residential air conditioning systems can produce two to three quarts of water per day when operated for extended periods of time. “If the air conditioning condensation line is not properly routed, you could put a bathtub full of water into the walls before you noticed it,” explained Harper.

Due to the complexities surrounding moisture intrusion sources, CREIA recommends consumers not attempt these investigations on their own, but rather hire a professional home inspector that is trained and equipped to perform such work. A qualified CREIA inspector is trained to identify conditions leading to and causing moisture intrusion. CREIA qualified inspectors are equipped to access roofing materials, attics, and crawl spaces. Although specific identification of fungal contamination is beyond the scope of a typical home inspection, some CREIA inspector members have received additional education and training in this discipline and offer this and other ancillary environmental services in addition to their usual inspection services.

Q: What is proper drainage for my home?

A: It’s an old industry adage that warns: “A lot of water in short period of time can cause major damage and a little water over a long period of time can cause major damage.” CREIA warns that amateur solutions to complex drainage problems often result in poor guesswork with no assurance that the money and effort invested will produce desired results. Causes and cures for excessive ground water conditions can be perplexing, even challenging the most knowledgeable of drainage professionals. Failure to properly diagnose and address such conditions can have significant long-term effects on the integrity of a home, including possible jeopardy to the foundation itself.

A nonprofessional’s recommendation, such as boring a drain hole in a foundation wall, may appear to resolve the problem but is actually little more than an uneducated guess. The problem with this approach is its reliance on the following poor assumptions that by simply draining a bore hole in the foundation: 1) all ground water in the sub-area will flow to that opening and that there are no other low areas where standing water could remain beneath the building; 2) the water flow beneath the building has not caused soil erosion at the piers and foundations (ongoing erosion could lead to eventual undermining of the structure) — it is important to prevent further water 3) there has been no moisture condensation on the wood framing. Condensation is a common cause of fungus and dry rot and can also lead to rust damage of structural hardware. If water damage is occurring, increased ventilation could be essential, and the addition of a plastic ground membrane may be an important consideration.

The California Real Estate Inspection Association recommends that you have your home’s foundation and drainage issues looked at by a qualified home inspection professional. After a careful professional inspection, your home inspector may recommend further evaluation by a qualified drainage specialist, such as a licensed geotechnical engineer to determine the source of water entry. A drainage system should then be installed to prevent further intrusion of ground water. Improvements could include installing a french drain near the building, adding gutters to the roof, regarding the ground surfaces around or below the building, installing a water pump beneath the structure, and possibly more. Only a drainage specialist is qualified to determine which methods of correction are appropriate.

Q: How does a home “shows its age”?

New Home. With the purchase of a new home, expecting a finished product free of major problems is justified. However, minor repair items often found in a new home may include incorrectly wired circuits, cracked roof shingles, missing miscellaneous hardware, binding doors, paint touch up, cracked window panes, dirty HVAC vents and filters, scratches in finished wood, and drywall nail pops. A new house should not show any signs of foundation settling, water intrusion, soil erosion, or improperly functioning appliances or mechanical components.

Two to Ten Years Old. A house that is 2-10 years old may begin to show routine wear and tear, but should be structurally and mechanically sound. Most foundation settling will occur by now (however, if a drainage problem is left unresolved future damage may occur). Caulking, painting and other routine items should be checked. A review of the electrical and mechanical systems should also be conducted to assure proper operation.

Eleven to Twenty Years Old. A house that is 11-20 years old will begin to show additional signs of age and degradation. There may be a need to repair and replace some components such as wood rot, sealant, roofing shingles, and cosmetic surfaces. If the appliances are original, they may be nearing their expected service life. The structural elements, as well as the major electrical and mechanical equipment, should still be in adequate condition at this age.

Up to Forty Years Old. As a building ages, it is common to experience some settling or movement in the foundation, floors, walls, ceilings and other areas. Anticipate replacing some major systems and components such as heating and air conditioning equipment, roofing materials, major appliances, and some electrical and plumbing fixtures.

Historic Buildings. When purchasing a historic home be aware that there might be significant structural issues, as well as outdated construction techniques and components that may need addressing. Mortar may be failing and fireplaces may not be safe to operate. Settling, spauling plaster, binding doors, inoperable windows, inadequate electrical and heating components, and inadequate insulation are common with homes of this age. Extensive repairs and upgrades should be anticipated and budgeted.

The above generalizes the anticipated conditions for homes of various ages. A professional inspection can inform a homebuyer of important issues. An inspection consists of a thorough visual examination of a home’s structural components including the foundation, superstructure, and roofing systems, where accessible, plus the major electrical and mechanical components. Much of what an inspector points out is for the buyer’s edification and not intended to be a catalyst for immediate repair. The role of the inspector is to provide potential homebuyers with accurate information on the property so that they can make an informed purchase decision.

Q: How important is it to have clean ducts in my home?

A: Home owners need to be aware of potential health hazards from the accumulation of dust and filth in a home’s ductwork. While not the case with all forced air systems, in many homes, occupants are unknowingly breathing air that has been circulated over layers of visible filth.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not address duct cleaning, air ducts provide a common harbor and distribution mechanism for biological air contaminants. In many older homes, forced air heaters may have been operated for years with dirty filters or with no filters at all. The accumulated dust on the inner duct surfaces is often oily or moist and may contain mites or various species of molds or fungus. In newer homes, where air-tight construction methods are employed for enhanced energy conservation, the growth of mold spores has become recognized as a significant indoor air quality hazard.

The EPA reports that molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance when moisture is present. Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce, just as plants produce seeds. Mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, even dynamite. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

Molds can trigger asthma episodes in individuals with an allergic reaction to mold. If mold is a problem in your home, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture. Recommendation by your professional inspector to clean you air ducts should be heeded to help provide a safe and healthy home.

Q: What are the pool fencing requirements for homeowners?

A: Homeowners should take pool fencing requirements seriously. According to recent studies, more than half of all pool drownings that occur in the U.S involve children under the age of five. Attention to pool fence and other safety issues is a vital imperative for everyone owning or living near a pool or back yard spa.

Requirements for pool fencing are not as rigidly set as most other standards in the Uniform Building Code because they are contained in the appendix portion of the code, rather than the main chapters. Municipalities that adopt the code into law have the option to include the fence requirements in the appendix or to write specific standards of their own. It’s wise to consult your professional home inspector or local building department with regards to pool or spa safety.

In jurisdictions where standard fence requirements are in force, there are ten basic rules to keep in mind when fencing an area around a pool or spa:

Fencing should totally surround the pool area.
Fencing should be at least four feet, but preferably six feet, in height.
The bottom edges of fencing should be within four inches of pavement or within 2 inches of unpaved ground.
To prevent children from squeezing between vertical components of a fence, the spacing should not exceed 4 inches.
Fencing should provide no footholds or handholds that would facilitate climbing.
Diamond-shaped chain-link fence openings should be no larger than 1.75 inches, or have inserts to prevent climbing.
Pedestrian gates should be self-closing, self-latching, and latch mechanisms should be out of reach of small children.
Pedestrian gates should swing in a direction away from the pool (so small children do not push them open).
Gates for non-pedestrian use should remain locked when not is use.
When the exit doors from adjacent buildings enter directly into the pool area; each such door should be equipped with a self-closing device and an audible alarm.

Pools and spas can be very enticing to small children, sometimes with tragic results. By following these basic standards and consulting your local building department for additional requirements, your pool area should be reasonably protected from child access.

In addition to these guidelines, an inspection by a professional home inspector may determine if the pool or spa is equipped with an anti-vortex drain cover. This inexpensive, yet important device, helps prevent children or small adults from being trapped by the suction of the pool drain. Other areas inspectors review may include diving boards and/or slides, which may be “fun”, but can produce serious injuries. Hand rails, steps, gripable coping, GFCI protected lighting and general foot traffic issues are also important safety aspects of a pool and/or spa that a professionally trained home inspector will review.

Q: What is the safe and proper way to care for washers and dryers?

A: Check your washing machine water supply hoses regularly. The hot and cold water supply hoses to your laundry washing machine are under constant water pressure 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year unless you turn off the water supply valves between loads (which many folks do not do). Like anything else, hoses wear out and burst…often at the most inconvenient times such as while you are on vacation. The flood damage can be very expensive.

CREIA recommends you give serious consideration to replacing hoses at least every three years with the improved steel-strengthened type. When leaving on a trip make sure to shut-off the valves and leave a note reminding yourself to turn them back on when you return with the inevitable loads of laundry.

Check your dyer’s venting system. Terminating a dryer exhaust beneath a home is a common construction defect and is prohibited by the Uniform Mechanical Code. There are two reasons for this prohibition: continuous lint build-up in the subfloor area poses a fire hazard, and moisture condensation beneath the structure can cause damage to the wood framing. The warm most air produced by the dryer is conducive to the cultivation of mold and the encouragement of wood destroying organisms and pests.

Crushed and blocked clothes dryer ducting can result in a home fire. Without adequate release and dispersion to the exterior lint trapped within the ducting may catch fire or at the very least cause longer drying cycles thereby raising the cost of energy to dry your clothes. Because many ducts pass through combustible wall framing and through the foundation crawl space it is imperative that during normal homeowner maintenance these duct be checked and cleaned as necessary.

To vent your dryer properly, the use of four-inch diameter smooth walled rigid metal ducting is advised. The duct connections should be secured with tape, not screws, because lint built-up on the screw ends can restrict the free flow of air. A dryer vent hood should be installed at the exterior of the building to prevent back drafting and pest access. Also, make sure to check the overall length of the air duct. The maximum allowed length is 14 feet. Some floor plans do not enable compliance with this requirement, but keeping the duct as short and straight as possible minimizes airflow resistance. Dryer ducts running upward through the roof require closer attention and more frequent maintenance.

Q: What do I need to know about stucco?

A: Stucco adheres best when applied directly over cement-based materials; a stucco color coat, when correctly installed, should be expected to last for 20-50 years, or more. Stucco problems can arise as a result of money-saving shortcuts that occurred in the stucco application. When stucco is installed over paint, adhesion is compromised, resulting in chipping and peeling. Adequate surface preparation should include the removal of old paint by means of sand blasting, or application of a special primer. Failure to sandblast or prime is a sign of faulty workmanship. Stucco applied to paint is a substandard condition that creates ongoing maintenance problems due to continued delimitation. Periodic patching will be needed to maintain a presentable appearance, and disclosure to prospective buyers will be necessary when the property is sold.

Not every stucco crack is an indication of a serious problem. When you see cracks in newer stucco finish, it does not necessary imply trouble. Only when cracks are large and excessive is there likely to be a problem. Some pre-1950’s homes have fewer cracks than their newer residential counterparts. This is because the studs used were larger, came from more mature trees, and were kiln-dried.

In 1982 the California Contractors License Board published a set of workmanship guidelines that addressed cracks in stucco. The guidelines say “Hairline crack if not excessively numerous are acceptable. If cracks exceed 3/32 of an inch it is unacceptable and should be repaired.” All stucco cracks have their own unique patterns. A qualified home inspector can investigate and report these conditions to a potential buyer or to the seller.

Q: Should I be concerned about aluminum wiring in my home?

A: The California Real Estate Inspection Association wants homeowners to avoid confusion about the existence of aluminum wiring in their home. Many people make the mistake of fearing that their house must be completely re-wired. The mere presence of aluminum circuitry does not always justify rewiring the entire home. In most cases, replacement of aluminum wire is an over-reaction to what is often a manageable problem. Aluminum wires were installed in many homes during the late 1960’s and early 70’s (especially mobile homes and trailers). In some dwellings, electrical fires occurred within a few years of construction, which is why most aluminum branch wiring was discontinued. However, the actual cause of these fires was not the aluminum wire itself, but the tendency for aluminum connections to become loose at outlets, switches, fixtures, and circuit breakers. Aluminum wiring, in some instances, is known to be hazardous, but it is still commonly used for 220-volt circuits. If installed according to manufacturers’ specifications, it presents no significant fire hazard. In fact, most electric power companies use aluminum for their main service lines.

To ensure the safety of the aluminum connections in your home, alterations can be made, rendering the system safe, without the exorbitant cost of rewiring. For example, copper wire ends, known as “pigtails,” can be retrofitted at all terminals. There are two primary rules governing the proper attachment of aluminum wires: The connecting terminals must be rated for aluminum wiring, and the wire ends should be treated with a special compound to prevent corrosion. Only a licensed electrician should be entrusted to perform electrical work on your home.

Depending on the age of the alloys and the initial workmanship of the installation, the type and extent of necessary repair could cover a wide range of choices. Many houses wired with aluminum in the 1970’s have shown no problems, while the problems with some houses in the 1960’s could actually be made worse by improper diagnosis and installation.

There are those houses where the only realistic solution is a complete rewiring job, and there are others where nothing needs to be done. A professional home inspector can recommend that an electrical contractor familiar with the problems of aluminum wiring be retained to evaluate the system and recommend appropriate actions. The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) includes inspection of the electrical system as part of their Standards of Practice for all member inspectors. A professional home inspector has an obligation to inspect the electrical system of a home, unless that portion of the home is inaccessible. In that case, lack of access should have been specifically noted in the inspection report, with a recommendation for further evaluation as soon as access can be provided.

Q: How important is good drainage around my home?

A: Moisture intrusion damage and plumbing leaks are the largest repair expense most homeowners face today. Deferring maintenance for any moisture problem is not wise. Plumbing and drainage problems can escalate to health issues as molds can grow on virtually any substance when moisture is present.

Make sure your home’s roof, grade-level, and underground drainage systems are designed to redirect water flow away from the perimeter foundation. Properly installed drainage systems help prevent flooding, soils erosion, excessive moisture conditions, foundation settlement, and moisture infiltration into below grade rooms and storage areas. Typically, these drainage systems are referred to as a “French drain.” A French drain consists of trenches that are lined with drainage cloth, filled with rock, and contain perforated piping with the holes at the four and eight o’clock position. Ground water favors French drains because they provide an easier flow path than the natural grade of the property. Simply stated, a French drain creates a more permeable route for flow and carries the water to a safe disposal point.

The migration of moisture against either a home’s perimeter concrete foundation stem wall or beneath a concrete slab type foundation can be costly for homeowners because of the potential damage possible to a home’s support systems, as well as to personal contents and mechanical systems, along with the possible encouragement of mold and pest infestation.

To ensure that a home’s drainage system is adequate in design and effective during wet weather, make sure it is evaluated by a qualified and experienced inspector. If a problem is discovered by a professional home inspector, a geotechnical expert may be further recommended to perform a site evaluation and provide specifications and a cost analysis for the proper drainage system.

If any flooding has recently occurred, the foundations, subfloor framing, and other building components should be carefully examined for possible moisture-related damage. Your inspector has a professional obligation to inspect the crawlspace beneath the dwelling, unless that portion of the home is inaccessible. In that case, lack of access should be specifically noted in the inspection report, with a recommendation for further evaluation as soon as access can be provided. The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) includes the inspection of the crawlspace as part of their Standards of Practice for all member inspectors.

Q: What are some good summer maintenance tips for my home?

A: The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), a nonprofit, consumer-benefit organization recommends the following maintenance steps for the summer months.


Decks and Patios. Since wet and cold winters take a toll on wood decks, check your decks to determine if new paint is needed, hammer down any nails that have popped up, and secure any loose supports. Consider applying a water sealant to help improve the longevity of your wood decks. Also exam patios, walks and drives for cracks. Consider resurfacing or filling any cracks to avoid water intrusion that can cause lifting.
Fences. Look for loose or broken posts and check safety latches, especially around pool areas.
Sprinkler Systems. Monitor your sprinkler system for leaks around pipe joints and the anti-siphon values. Test your sprinklers for full coverage of your grounds while adjusting them to ensure water does not hit your house.
Windows. Look for glazing putty that has dried out around window of older homes. Glazing putty should be redone to properly seal the window frames and conserve energy during the warm summer months.
Roofs. Inspect your roof from the ground for any missing material and signs of aging or weathering such as severe cracking and brittleness. Roof penetrations and flashing can dry out from long exposure to the extreme sun and cold weather. If these signs are present, you should consider repairs in these areas. Also have the roof and gutters cleared of debris.
Garage Doors. Examine the springs on tilt-up garage doors and tracks and the hinges on rollup doors. Check the safety reverse system on automatic door opener systems by using a roll of paper towels. The garage door should reverse within two seconds of contact.
Pools/Spas. Check the swimming pool slides for cracks, broken supports, broken ladder and/or ruptured water lines. Ensure that the diving board is supported well on the deck and test the board to see if it is rigid or pliable. Examine all pool/spa values, gates, and dams to see if they turn freely and are lubricated properly. Be sure to have all electrical connections of the pool/spa equipment inspected for potential electrical hazards.


Air Conditioning & Heating Systems. Air conditioning systems should be serviced by a professional. Air filters on the fan unit of the air conditioning and heating system should be changed every two months.
Ventilation. Check that vent systems and turbines are clear and turning. Make sure that if you covered the turbines on the roof with plastic during the rainy season that you remove the plastic.
Fireplace. Depending on how often you use your fireplace, the summer is a good time to get the flue cleaned by a chimney sweep. Gas fireplaces should be inspected annually by a certified gas technician with expertise in fireplaces.
Ceiling Fans. Check that ceiling fans are properly secured. Often wiring for ceiling fans is left in dismay. Wiring in the attic should be in a junction box with the colored wire nuts placed on the connections.
Smoke & CO Detectors. Smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors should be tested regularly. If needed, batteries should be replaced.

Homeowners should also consider a professional inspection to identify conditions that may have developed over time and may not be visible to the “untrained” eye. Homeowners who are equipped with a professional inspection report will know not only what items are most significant and in need of immediate attention, but what deferred maintenance items will need to be corrected before becoming more costly to repair or a high priority safety issue.

A professional inspector is third party, independent investigator who visually inspects and detects conditions in a home. He or she is a trained generalist, identifying and sorting through the multitude of major systems and components. The inspector investigates, operates, and systematically identifies the major systems and components of the home. The inspector is addressing health and safety issues, making recommendations, and counseling on repair options and maintenance. Professional inspectors should not perform or offer to perform any repairs to a home, thus eliminating conflict of interest. Health and safety concerns and adverse conditions are discussed and documented by the inspector.

Q: Should I be concerned about a backflow of water between indoor and outdoor faucets?

A: The faucets in a home’s kitchen, bathrooms, laundry areas and exterior hose bibbs provide what is know as “potable water”. Potable water is defined as “fit for human consumption.” Non drinking irrigation water is usually termed “non-potable”. Both get their water from the same supply line — that is, the local water company’s water meter located on your lot. This means all water outlets at every location on your property (including both inside and outside) get their water from the same source. This results in a “cross-connection” between your garden hose and your faucets providing drinking water. A cross connection is not a good thing unless there is an anti-siphon or “back-flow” prevention device installed between the potable and irrigation water supply system.

A dangerous cross-connection can occur under the following scenario: Husband is outside fertilizing the lawn with weed-killer fertilizer pellets. Immediately after applying the chemicals he places the hose in a trench or turns on the sprinkler system. While this is occurring Wife is taking a shower and at that moment one of the children is getting a drink of water from the kitchen faucet. The child later becomes sick and a hospital visit reveals weed poison in the child’s blood. This scenario is possible because a change in water pressure can create a siphon effect where the irrigation water containing poisonous chemicals that has leached through the lawn and entered broken or low laying sprinkler heads or coiled hose openings are drawn into the home’s potable water supply.

The California Plumbing Code’s (Chapter 6: Water Supply and Distribution) deals with this hazard by requiring exterior faucets (hose bibbs) and all landscaping water systems to be equipped with properly installed “back-flow” prevention devices. These devices prevent garden water from backing up into your home’s potable water system. However, if your home is an older property, you may not be protected from this potential danger.

A professional inspector can help you determine if your home is protected from cross contamination. All CREIA inspectors are familiar with these devices and they are addressed during their inspections under CREIA’s extensive Standards of Practice.

Q: When I sell my home, what are my disclosure obligations?

A: California law requires sellers to furnish prospective buyers with a completed “Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement,” commonly referred to as a “TDS”. The TDS is basically a list of obligations sellers have to disclose regarding any and all known defects that could be interpreted as a material defect. A material defect is a condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability, or safety of the building. Any such defect would also directly affect the marketability of the property.

The purpose of the disclosure statement is two-fold: The most obvious is to inform buyers of the condition of the property they are buying. The added benefit, often overlooked, is the liability protection provided for sellers. In this respect, the disclosure statement helps to minimize the likelihood of claims, disputes, or lawsuits occurring after the close of escrow.

Reasonable buyers are not likely to be troubled or concerned about small repaired item such as a hairline crack, but there are litigious individuals with whom the seller must be cautious. It is not whether you are required to disclose the crack, but it is to your advantage to disclose it. In so doing, that condition becomes one less issue with the potential to incite future conflict. In the unlikely event that a problem regarding the crack should ever arise, your defense would be strengthened by the fact that you had made full disclosure. The process is actually quite simple: just declare, in writing, that the crack was evaluated and repaired by a reputable licensed general contractor, and include a copy of the paper work that you received from the contractor. This should reassure, rather than alarm, most potential buyers.

There are several misunderstandings and/or misconceptions held by the general public regarding “As Is” real estate listings. When the property listing states the house is being sold “As Is”, this does not relieve the seller from certain real estate laws relating to the sale and transfer of ownership of real estate in California. In an “As Is” transaction the seller is still required to disclose all known material facts to the buyer. Thus, a residential dwelling being sold “As Is” is really being sold “As Is As Disclosed” and that the seller is not going to fix nor credit the cost of the fix to the buyer.

Buyers should know that many times home sellers are not always aware what defects may lurk on the roof or in the electric, plumbing or heating/cooling systems or even within the attic or foundation spaces. That is precisely why it behooves all sellers to strongly consider obtaining a pre-listing home inspection. This will allow the inspector to perform a professional evaluation of all of the home’s systems and components without the buyer being in the picture. It also affords the seller the opportunity, without duress of time constraints, to make a judgment whether to correct any defects listed within the inspector’s written report, schedule further evaluations where suggested by the inspector, and/or to just list the defects discovered and described by the inspector in the seller’s TDS and set the home’s sales price accordingly. It is imperative to secure the services of a competent home inspector.

Q: What kind of seismic safety upgrades should I consider for my home?

A: Usually, recommended seismic upgrades by a professional home inspector are offered as suggested improvements, not mandatory requirements (with the exception of strapping of water heaters, there is no state law requiring a seller to bring an older home into compliance with current earthquake resistance requirements). However, seismic improvements are prudent and, if done properly, can significantly limit structural damage in the event of a severe earthquake.

Many property owners have chosen to reinforce their foundation systems against earthquake damage, especially since major quakes have occurred in California in the past decade and seismic upgrades were found to be very effective in homes which had been reinforced prior to those events. In most cases, effective seismic upgrading consists of following basics:

Installation of additional anchor bolts to provide adequate attachment of the wood sills to the concrete foundation. This is only necessary when the existing bolts do not meet current building standards.
Addition of plywood sheets, known as shear panels, nailed to the “cripple walls” to prevent collapse of those walls when lateral seismic forces are exerted against the building. Cripple walls are the short framed walls that extend from the top of the foundation to the base of the floor structure.
Placement of hold-down brackets to secure “cripple walls” to the anchor bolts. This ensures that the wall studs will not separate from the wood sills when a quake occurs.
Reinforcement of post and beam connections with plywood gussets or T-straps to ensure against separation or displacement.

In many homes, the floor joists are installed directly on the sill plates, rather than on “cripple walls.” In such cases, the second and third recommendations above do not apply. Instead, tie-down brackets can be added to ensure secure attachment of the floor structure to the wood sills.

The average cost for these improvements can vary greatly, depending upon the size, age and location of the building, as well as the type of construction. To ensure optimum reinforcement, it is recommended that the specifications for upgrading any building be determined by a licensed structural engineer.

Q: What do I need to know before I start construction on my brand new dream house?

A: Homebuyers building their new dream house have many important decisions and considerations. Below are some of the most significant:

Soil Conditions: Soil stability is one of the most important considerations for your new home. Soil conditions play a vital role in the structural integrity of your future home and can even determine whether a building permit will be issued for the project. To ensure that all is acceptable in this regard, have the property evaluated by a qualified geotechnical engineer. In addition to site stability, a qualified engineer can detect conditions affecting ground water, drainage and can assist in determine the most advantageous building location on the property.

Utilities. Be sure your have made arrangements for the utilities. Some utilities, such as electric power lines should be provided by the utility company, while other basics, such as well water and septic systems may need to be arranged by the buyer in some new construction sites. If a well is needed, you should consult with local property owners who have existing wells and with professional well drillers who work the area. In this way, you can determine the likelihood of finding water, the likely depth of the water table beneath the property, and the general water quality to be expected. With regard to the septic system, the seller of the property may be able to provide you with a perc test, to determine the ability of the soil to absorb wastewater. On properties where percolation is limited, expensive septic systems may be needed.

Building Contractor. Another concern is the availability of qualified building contractors when you need one, especially when the construction business is booming. At such times, people often make the mistake of hiring just anyone, sacrificing quality for the sake of a construction deadline. Avoid this error by setting quality concerns before time constraints. Make sure you find a highly reputed contractor, and then schedule your project according to his or her availability.

Professional Home Inspection. Finally, be sure to hire a professional home inspector for a final review of the project. No matter how good a job your builder does, a competent home inspector may find defective conditions that managed to slip through the cracks of the construction and municipal inspection processes. A detailed inspection report can provide a pick-up list for the contractor, before you occupy your new home.

Q: What are the most common defects found by home inspectors?

A: When hiring a home inspector, manys typically believe that stability of the foundation is the main focus of the inspection when, in reality, serious foundation problems are among the some of least common building defects. Below are the “top ten “ most common defects found in residential real estate?

Roofing defects: Problems with roofing material, due to aging, wear, or improper installation, are likely to be found in the majority of homes. This does not mean that most roofs require replacement, but rather that most could use some type of maintenance or repair.
Ceiling stains, indicating past or current roof leaks: Unfortunately, you often can’t tell if the roof still leaks unless you inspect on a rainy day. Some stains are merely the residual effects of roof problems that have been repaired, while others may be related to leaky plumbing.
Water intrusion into basements or crawlspaces due to ground water conditions: Faulty drainage can be pervasive, difficult to resolve, and sometimes very damaging to buildings. Correction can be as simple as re- grading the exterior grounds or adding roof gutters. Unfortunately, major drainage improvements are often warranted, requiring costly ground water systems such as french drains designed by geotechnical engineers.
Electrical safety hazards, especially (but not always) in older homes: Examples are ungrounded outlets, lack of ground fault interrupters (shock protection devices), faulty wiring conditions in electrical panels or elsewhere in a building, etc. Such problems may result from errors at the time of construction but often are due to wiring that was added or altered by persons other than qualified electricians.
Rotted wood at building exteriors and at various plumbing fixtures: In areas where wood remains wet for long periods, e.g. roof eaves, exterior trim, decks, around tubs and showers, or below loose toilets, fungus infection is likely to attack, resulting in a condition commonly known as dry rot. If left unchecked, damage can be quite extensive.
Building violations where additions and alterations were constructed without permits: Homeowners will often tell a home inspector, “We added the garage without a permit, but it was all done to code.” This is a red flag to most inspectors, because no one could possibly know the entire building code, let alone the average person without construction knowledge. Whenever an owner offers code assurance, problems are likely to be found.
Unsafe fireplace and chimney conditions: Problems with wood burning fixtures can range from lack of maintenance to faulty installation. Most common are missing spark arrestors and faulty placement of freestanding fireplaces. Wood-burning stoves are typically installed by homeowners and handymen, persons without adequate knowledge of fire safety requirements. Common violations involve insufficient clearance between hot metal surfaces and combustible materials within the building. Fire hazards of this kind are often concealed in attics, where they remain undiscovered until a roof fire occurs.
Faulty installation of water heaters: In most localities, less than 5% of all water heaters are installed in full compliance with plumbing code requirements. Common violations include inadequate strapping, improperly installed overflow piping, unsafe flue conditions, or faulty gas piping. What’s more, today’s water heaters are designed to have shorter longevity than in times of yore. Leaks can develop in units that are only five years old.
Hazardous conditions involving gas heaters: Most gas-fueled heaters are in need of some maintenance, if only the changing of an air filter or a long-overdue review by the gas company. In some cases, however, gas heaters contain life-threatening defects that can remain undiscovered until too late. These can range from fire safety violations to the venting of carbon monoxide into the building. A cracked firebox, for example, can remain undiscovered unless found by an expert or until tragic consequences occur.
Firewall violations in garages: Special fire-resistive construction is required for walls and doors that separate a garage from a dwelling. Violations are common, due to faulty construction, damage or alterations to the garage interior, or changes in code requirements since the home was built. In older homes, where firewalls are not installed, sellers and agents will often suggest that the building predates the code. However, the fire separation requirement for residential garages dates back to 1927.

Inspection FAQs
CREIA’s Mission Statement

To represent the Real Estate Inspection Industry
To recognize and promote Real Estate Inspection as a unique, professional discipline
To provide leadership through education and by maintaining ethical and technical standards
To enhance consumer protection and promote public awareness of the Association

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s) by Home Buyers

What Is An Inspection?
Why Do I Need An Inspection?
What Does An Inspection Include?
When Do I Request An Inspector?
Can A Building “FAIL” The Inspection?
What If The Report Reveals Problems?
If The Report Is Favorable, Did I Really Need An Inspection?
Can I Inspect The Building Myself ?
What Will The Inspection Cost?
Should I Attend The Inspection?
How Do I Find A “Qualified” Inspector?
What Is CREIA?
What Is A Master CREIA Inspector (MCI)?
What Is A New Home Construction Inspection?
Your New Dream House Needs a Professional Inspection
It’s Brand New…What Could be Wrong?
Peace of Mind
What Is A “In Progress Inspection”?
The Municipal Code Inspector Already Approved It
My Builder Says I Don’t Need a Home Inspection
What Is A CREIA New Construction Specialist (CNCS)?
Other Inspection Related Services

Back to Top
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s) by Home Sellers

Easing The Transaction For A Home Seller
Home Seller Disclosure Obligations
Why Do I Need An Inspection?
Do I Have To Repair Everything Wrong With The House?
Do I Really Need An Inspection?
What Is An Listing Inspection?
Is There Anything I Can Do Better To Maintain My Home?
Locating A “Qualified” Inspector

What Is An Inspection?
An inspection is a visual examination of the structure and systems of a building. If you are thinking of buying a home, condominium, mobile home, or commercial building, you should have it thoroughly inspected before the final purchase by an experienced and impartial professional inspector.

What Does An Inspection Include?
A complete inspection includes a visual examination of the building from top to bottom. The inspector evaluates and reports the condition of the structure, roof, foundation, drainage, plumbing, heating system, central air-conditioning system, visible insulation, walls, windows, and doors. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report.

When Do I Request An Inspector?
The best time to consult the inspector is right after you’ve made an offer on your new building. The real estate contract usually allows for a grace period to inspect the building. Ask your professional agent to include this inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional inspection.

Can A Building “FAIL” The Inspection?
No. A professional inspection is simply an examination into the current condition of your prospective real estate purchase. It is not an appraisal or a Municipal Code inspection. An inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a building, but will simply describe its condition and indicate which items will be in need of minor or major repairs or replacement.

What If The Report Reveals Problems?
If the inspector finds problems in a building, it does not necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy it, only that you will know in advance what type of repairs to anticipate. A seller may be willing to make repairs because of significant problems discovered by the inspector. If your budget is tight, or if you do not wish to become involved in future repair work, you may decide that this is not the property for you. The choice is yours.

If The Report Is Favorable, Did I Really Need An Inspection?
Definitely! Now you can complete your purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and its equipment and systems. You may have learned a few things about your property from the inspection report, and will want to keep that information for your future reference. Above all, you can rest assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision and that you will be able to enjoy or occupy your new home or building the way you want.

Why Do I Need An Inspection?
The purchase of a home or commercial building is one of the largest single investments you will ever make. You should know exactly what to expect — both indoors and out — in terms of needed and future repairs and maintenance. A fresh coat of paint could be hiding serious structural problems. Stains on the ceiling may indicate a chronic roof leakage problem or may be simply the result of a single incident. The inspector interprets these and other clues, then presents a professional opinion as to the condition of the property so you can avoid unpleasant surprises afterward. Of course, an inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a building, as well as the type of maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and be able to make your decision confidently.

As a seller, if you have owned your building for a period of time, an inspection can identify potential problems in the sale of your building and can recommend preventive measures which might avoid future expensive repairs.

Can I Inspect The Building Myself?
Even the most experienced building or home owner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional inspector who has inspected hundreds, and perhaps thousands of homes and buildings in their career. An inspector is equally familiar with the critical elements of construction and with the proper installation, maintenance and inter-relationships of these elements. Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the building they really want, and this may lead to a poor assessment.

What Will The Inspection Cost?
The inspection fee for a typical single-family house or commercial building varies geographically, as does the cost of housing, similarly, within a geographic area the inspection fees charged by different inspection services may vary depending upon the size of the building, particular features of the building, age, type of structure, etc. However, the cost should not be a factor in the decision whether or not to have a physical inspection. You might save many times the cost of the inspection if you are able to have the seller perform repairs based on significant problems revealed by the inspector. Consult your professional agent for guidance.

Should I Attend The Inspection?
It is not necessary for you to be present for the inspection, but it is a good idea. By following the inspector through the inspection, observing and asking questions, you will learn about the new building and get some tips on general maintenance. Information that will be of great help to you after you’ve moved in.

How Do I Find A “Qualified” Inspector?
There are several ways of choosing an inspector for your new property, the best is by clicking here to find a CREIA Inspector inspector in your area or by calling the toll free referral service at 800-388-8443. Personal contacts, either from prior inspections or from a friend, relative, or business acquaintance who has had a recent inspection is an excellent method. Another alternative is to ask your real estate agent/broker who he or she would recommend. Most inspection services promote their business with brochures through the real estate offices. Many claim that their reports meet or follow CREIA Standards of Practice. Do not be fooled; look for the CREIA emblem on these brochures. Only inspectors who meet CREIA’s rigorous professional and educational requirements may qualify as members.

What Is CREIA?
The California Real Estate Inspection Association, (CREIA), was established in 1976 in California as a non- profit voluntary professional association. CREIA has grown to over 500 members and candidates today. CREIA’s Standards of Practice and professional Code of Ethics provides the consumer with the assurance of quality and professionalism. Members of CREIA are either owners or employees of professional building inspection companies. Today CREIA has members throughout the state and is recognized in California as the leading authority in the building inspection industry.

CREIA has established a high Standards of Practice for the inspection profession that is used throughout the state to ensure the buyer who retains a CREIA member of a complete and detailed inspection and report.

All members must abide by these standards and code of ethics. CREIA offers its members and candidates continuing education in the latest building technology, training, and materials to ensure the most professional inspection for the consumer. CREIA acts as a public information service to real estate buyers and provides technical support and training to realty agents, state agencies and other related professions.

Many CREIA members have engineering, architectural, or technical backgrounds. most members have had experience in various construction fields and are or have been building contractors.Click here to find a CREIA Inspector in your area.

What Is A Master CREIA Inspector (MCI)?
The MASTER CREIA INSPECTOR (MCI) designation is the highest rating that can be obtained through CREIA. This designation is only given to those inspectors that have obtained many hours of additional training and have been tested for knowledge above the already high standards set for the members of CREIA. Each report prepared by a MCI will bear the MCI seal representing the best quality inspection for your investment

What Is A CREIA New Construction Specialist (CNCS)?
A professional new construction inspection specialist is only looking out for your best interest. Many homebuyers are now taking advantage of CREIA inspectors who specialize in new construction stage inspections. CREIA has established a specialty classification for professional inspectors who have received additional education and testing related to new construction inspections. These Inspectors are identified as CREIA New Construction Specialist (CNCS)

Your New Dream House Needs a Professional Inspection
The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) encourages homebuyers entering into a contract for the building of their new dream house —whether it is custom or tract built — to retain the services of a professional home inspector during the construction of their new home. Homebuyers building their new dream house have many important decisions and considerations. They need to know that someone is looking out for them with independent, unbiased professional eyes.

What Is A New Home Construction Inspection?
A new home construction inspection (or “in-progress” inspection) is an independent, third party inspection to ensure that the work completed is in compliance with plans, specifications, and the construction schedule. Once a home is built, many conditions that could have been observed during construction are now covered and are no longer visible for inspection. Often a poorly installed/constructed condition that could have been visually reviewed during a construction progress inspection becomes covered or concealed later in the building process cause a potential financial burden for the property owner for future corrective action. For these reasons, it is important that a home be inspected during construction by the buyer’s representative whenever possible so that any reportable defects can be corrected before completion and transfer of title.

It’s Brand New…What Could be Wrong?
It is not good business to forego a home inspection on a newly constructed house, regardless of how conscientious and reputable your home builder.

No home, regardless of how well it is constructed, is totally free of defects. The construction of a house involves thousands of details, performed at the hands of scores of individuals. No general contractor can possibly oversee every one of these elements, and the very nature of human fallibility dictates that some mistakes and oversights will occur, even when the most talented and best-intentioned tradespeople are involved. It is also an unfortunate aspect of modern times that some builders/developers do not stand behind their workmanship and may not return to fix or replace defective components installed after the sale is complete.

The Municipal Code Inspector Already Approved It
Often the builder/developer will state the home has been built to “code” and that it was inspected at different stages and signed off by the local jurisdiction. However, building codes are frequently “minimum in nature” — that is, the primary intent of building regulations (codes) is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings. The builder is responsible to meet minimal standards at best — you may want higher standards applied to your dream house. Also, it is an unfortunate fact of the hectic pace of construction, that local building department inspectors are often overbooked with inspections, which results in their spending a minimal amount of time at the construction job site and important details may be overlooked. Finally, jurisdictional inspectors are not concerned with workmanship as long as all the systems and components in a new home meet minimum code requirements.

Peace of Mind
A professional in-progress inspection is a great value to a new construction homebuyer because the home inspector will spendwhatever time it takes to evaluate every readily accessible parts of the home they can safely reach and then prepare an inspection report containing their findings. This, in turn, will provide a “fix-it” list that can be brought to the attention of the builder/developer. Additionally the homebuyer has peace of mind in knowing they took the extra step in protecting their investment by helping ensure they are made aware of any overlooked defects.

In Progress Inspections
A new construction progress inspection by a qualified professional allows the inspector to become the “eyes of the homebuyer” through a series of inspections that occur during different stages of the construction of their new home. Typically, these inspections are performed at the following stages:

1.      Foundation form work before concrete placement

2.      After installation of support posts, beams and floor joists

3.      After installation of all rough framing, rough electrical wiring, heating/cooling duct work and the building’s sanitary pipe drainage and potable water supply systems

4.      Exterior siding(s) including roof coverings

5.      Final “walk-through” inspection checking all visually accessible systems and components such as: heating/cooling, electrical and plumbing systems including safety items such as; smoke detectors, stairs, handrails and guard railings, compliance with emergency-egress requirements, and proper installation of safety/tempered glazing within hazardous areas.

My Builder Says I Don’t Need a Home Inspection
It is important to let your builder know up front that you intend to have the work inspected by an independent third party construction expert. This will help set a tone with the builder and let them know that you expect things to be done properly. Ideally, you will want to start communication with your inspector as soon as you sign a contract with your builder. It is recommended that have a professional inspection of the foundation prior to the pour. A follow up inspection should be conducted after the foundation has set up.

Other Inspection Related Services
In addition to performing building inspections, many CREIA inspectors help with analysis and solutions to specific problems, such as foundations, energy conservation, and roofing problems. CREIA inspectors are also frequently called upon to review restoration and home improvement plans as well as maintenance specifications, contracts and progress inspections for new construction to help ensure proper completion of contracted work. If you find that you are involved in a dispute regarding construction work performed on your building, a CREIA member can provide expert advice. Also, many CREIA members inspect commercial and investment properties, multiple unit dwellings, condominiums, townhomes, mobile homes and perform reserve studies as well.

Easing The Transaction For A Home Seller
Home sellers are being urged to utilize home inspections prior to listing their homes. Professional inspections can discover unknown conditions allowing sellers an opportunity to perform desired repairs before placing the property on the market. A professional “listing inspection” is just good business, it may facilitate a smoother transaction by putting potential buyers at ease, reducing negotiating points, and bypassing annoying delays.

Home Seller Disclosure Obligations
California case law states that it is the duty of a seller to disclose relevant facts concerning the property for sale through a TDS form. (Transfer Document Statement) This basically means a seller of one to four residential units has a legal obligation to disclose all of the conditions of the property know to them to perspective buyers, which is often accomplished through use of a “Transfer Disclosure Statement.” While the listing inspection report cannot be used as a substitute for that disclosure, it does allow the seller to provide prospective buyers with additional information, based on an unbiased, third party, professional inspection.

Do I Have to Repair Everything Wrong With The House?
A listing inspection report is not intended to be a “do” or repair list for the home. Sellers are not obligated to repair conditions noted in the report, nor are they required to produce a flawless house. With a pre-listing home inspection, potential repair items already known by both parties are subject to any negotiations. A home seller can make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation; to foster good will or to facilitate the sale. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract

What Is An Listing Inspection?
An inspection consists of a non-invasive physical examination of a home’s systems, structures and components intended to identify material defects that exist at the time of inspection. The heating and cooling equipment is activated along with operating plumbing fixtures, testing accessible electrical outlets and fixtures, and operating a representative sampling of doors and windows. Visual inspection of the roof, walls and drainage adjacent to the home are included. Because of the wide range of construction practices and the “normal” wear and tear placed on the components of home, a professional home inspection can help provide a wealth of information to a home seller anxious to convey the condition of their home to perspective buyers.

Do I Really Need An Inspection?
As a seller, if you have owned your property for a period of time, an inspection can help identify potential problems and recommend preventive measures, which might avoid future expensive repairs. There is no such thing as a home that is too new or too well built to benefit from a professional inspection. Anyone advising against an inspection is doing a disservice to the homebuyer. Many problems frequently encountered after the buyer moves in, are a routine discovery for a qualified home inspection.

Is There Anything I Can Do Better To Maintain My Home?
Inspection reports often identify the same neglected maintenance items. Performing some basic maintenance can help keep your home in better condition, thus reduce the chance of those conditions showing up on the inspection report. To present a better maintained home to perspective buyers follow these tips from the California Real Estate Inspection Association. Most of these items can be accomplished with little or no cost, while the benefits of selling a well maintained home can be worth the effort.

Clean both rain gutters and any roof debris and trim back excessive foliage from the exterior siding.
Divert all water away from the house (for example, rain-gutter downspouts, sump pump discharge locations, and clean out garage and basement interiors.
Clean or replace all furnace filters.
Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding (preferable 6-8 inches of clearance).
Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around trim, chimneys, windows, doors, and all exterior wall penetrations.
Make sure all windows and doors are in proper operating condition; replace cracked windowpanes.
Replace burned out light bulbs.
Make sure all of the plumbing fixtures are in spotless condition (toilets, tubs, showers, sinks) and in proper working order (repair leaks).
Provide clear access to both attic and foundation crawl spaces, heating/cooling systems, water heater/s, electrical main and distribution panels and remove the car/s from the garage.
And finally, if the house is vacant make sure that all utilities are turned on. Should the water, gas or electric be off at the time of inspection the inspector will not turn them on. Therefore, the inspection process will be incomplete, which may possibly affect the time frame in removing sales contract contingencies.

Locating A Qualified Inspector
It is imperative that the seller secures the services of a qualified home inspector. Make sure to hire an inspector who is both trained and experienced in home inspection, maintains proper insurance, and is a member of a professional association such as the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA). Click here to find a CREIA Inspector in your area.

Home inspection is a relatively new profession in California and thus far not licensed by the state. At present, anyone can claim to be a home inspector. Therefore, you must exercise extreme care and cautious consideration before hiring just anyone. Select your home inspector with the following criteria in mind:

Professional Affiliation: In California, there are standards for home inspectors that have been enacted by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) and recognized in California statutes. Membership in this professional association requires obtaining initial training, passing a rigorous membership exam, and mandatory adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing education (a minimum of 30 hours per year). When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in CREIA.
Inspection Experience. Of paramount importance is an inspector’s actual level of direct experience in the practice of home inspection. A general contractor’s license can be an important credential, but when it comes to home inspection, a license to build indicates very little as it relates to competence as a property inspector. The experience that matters most is specific home inspection training and experience, not building experience.
Avoid Price Shopping. Home inspection fees vary widely. A home is the most expensive commodity you are likely to purchase and or sell in a lifetime. One defect missed by your inspector could cost 100 times what you save with a bargain inspection. The best method of price shopping is to shop for quality. Considering the high cost of real estate today, an inspection fee is a small price to pay. It can save thousands of dollars and years of regret.