WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE INSPECTING

GENERAL:

The intent of a general inspection is the following: attic areas & roof framing, building (home) interiors, electrical, exterior, foundation, basement, under-floor areas, heating & cooling, plumbing, and roof covering.  The inspector will also let you know if there is evidence of any issues that would require further inspection by a specialist.  Think of it this way – you go to a general practitioner for a physical.  If a specialist needs to be called in, they will let you know.  Cost ranges from $300 to $1600+ depending on the inspector and the size and amenities of the home.

SEWER LINE: 

the intent a sewer line inspection is to inspect the main sewer line.  An inspector puts a camera through the sewer line and provides a color, narrated dvd of the inspection.  If repairs are recommended, the inspector will also provide a written professional opinion and approximate repair costs.  Sewer lines can wear out over time or be damaged by tree roots and seismic activity.  I generally recommend this one straight out of the gate (not for condos, as it would not be your responsibility), as a sewer line is not looked at by a general inspector, and is your responsibility until it hits the public sewer one at the street.  The approximate price for this inspection is $250.

FOUNDATION:

The intent of the foundation inspection is to determine the condition of the foundation.  This includes the foundation area, the exterior perimeter (with moisture issues being the most common to adversely affect the foundation system). Interior, and underneath.   You will also be told if the property has been retrofitted for earthquake safety (while definitely preferable, please note that bolting is not a requirement, but an upgrade) You will then get a summary of findings.  This inspection will cost approximately $175 to $500

GEOLOGICAL:

The intent of a Geological inspection is to provide geological observations of the subject property to aid in evaluating the risks associated with that property.  It will educate you about geological conditions that influence the present and future performance of the land and existing structures.  This will usually include detailed research of available records on file with the department of building and safety.  The report will include surfical and overall stability of the land.  Local and regional geologic structure, engineering, geology, debris flow hazards, seismicity, and site drainage.  This is particularly important on hillside properties, or properties of large acreage, but less so in flat areas.  Most geologists offer both verbal and written options.  Discuss with your geologist the best option for you.  This will range from $500 to $2000+ depending on type of report and scope of work.

CHIMNEY:

THE INTENT OF A CHIMNEY INSPECTION IS TO CHECK ALL PORTIONS OF THE CHIMNEY EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR, INCLUDING ACCESSIBLE AREAS WITHIN ATTICS, CRAWL SPACES AND BASEMENTS.  ADDITIONALLY, A VIDEO CAMERA IS PUT INSIDE THE CHIMNEY SO THAT THE INNER PORTION OF THE CHIMNEY CAN BE VIEWED.  YOU WILL THEN GET A SUMMARY OF FINDINGS.  THIS WILL RANGE FROM $200 TO $400 PER FIREPLACE.

DRAINAGE:

THE INTENT OF A DRAINAGE INSPECTION IS TO CHECK ON PROPER DRAINAGE, AS PROPER DRAINAGE OF YOUR PROPERTY CAN REDUCE THE RISK OF MOISTURE RELATED  DAMAGES AND ISSUES.  A WET

CRAWLSPACE, BASEMENT, OR SLAB CAN RESULT IN FUNGUS RELATED DAMAGE, MOLD GROWTH, EXCESSIVE CONDENSATION ON WINDOWS, AND OTHER ISSUES.  SATURATED SOIL AND EROSION CAN ALSO DAMAGE THE FOUNDATION OF THE BUILDING.  THE FINDINGS WILL RECOMMEND IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE THESE RISKS INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ROOF WATER RUN-OFF, GUTTERS, DOWNSPOUTS, CLEARANCES AND GRADES FROM THE BUILDING, SWALES, AND ADDED DRAINAGE SYSTEMS.

POOL/SPA:

BUYERS PURCHASING A HOME WITH A POOL OR SPA OFTEN ELECT TO HAVE A SEPARATE INSPECTION TO DETERMINE THE CONDITION OF THE POOL ITSELF AND THE EQUIPMENT.  POOLS CAN BE EXPENSIVE TO RESURFACE, AND IT IS OFTEN BEYOND THE SCOPE OF A GENERAL INSPECTOR’S EXPERTISE TO INSPECT A POOL OR POOL EQUIPMENT.

MOLD:

THE INTENT OF THIS INSPECTON CAN BE PREVENTATIVE OR MORE OFTEN, IS SUGGESTED UPON DISCOVERY OF MOLD OR A MAJOR WATER LEAK. A COMPREHENSIVE INVESTIGATION INCLUDES A COMPLETE VISUAL ANALYSIS OF THE PREMISES, MOISTURE TESTING WITH A DIGITAL MOISTURE METER, LEAK DETECTION, AND SAMPLE COLLECTION FOR LABORATORY ANALYSIS.  SOURCE SAMPLING CAN INCLUDE METHODS SUCH AS SWAB, TAPE, BULK, AND/OR DUST.  MOLD INSPECTIONS VARY IN PRICE, DEPENDING ON WHETHER OR NOT SAMPLES ARE TAKEN AND, IF SO, HOW MANY.  YOU CAN EXPECT TO PAY $450 TO $1500.

RADON:

RADON IS A HAZARDAOUS, NATURALLY OCCURING GAS THAT RESULTS FROM THE DECAY OF TRACE AMOUNTS OF URANIUM FOUND IN THE EARTH’S CRUST.   A RADON MEASUREMENT SPECIALST CAN PROVIDE A PRECISE RADON LEVEL READING, OR YOU CAN BUY A DO-IT-YOURSELF TYPE RADON TEST KIT FOR UNDER $100.

ASBESTOS:

ASBESTOS IS OFTEN FOUND IN THE DUCTING OF OLDER HOMES.  YOUR GENERAL INSPECTOR CAN USUALLY LET YOU KNOW IF THERE IS ASBESTOS MATERIAL FOUND IN THE HOME, AND, IF SO, YOU MAY ELECT TO HAVE IT INSPECTED FOR SAFETY AND REQUEST AN ESTIMATE FOR ITS REMOVAL.  ASBESTOS INSPECTIONS RUN ABOUT $350 - $700.

LEAD-BASED PAINT:

LEAD BASED PAINT IS A CONCERN IN MOST HOMES BUILT BEFORE 1978, WHEN THE US CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION BANNED THE SALE AND DISTRIBUTION OF RESIDENTIAL PAINT CONTAINING LEAD.  IT IS ESTIMATED THAT OVER 80% OF THE HOMES BUILT BEFORE 1978 CONTAIN SOME LEAD-BASED PAINT.  LEAD PAINT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE DANGEROUS.  IF IT’S UNDER LAYERS OF NEWER, NON-LEAD PAINT, YOU MAY NOT HAVE A PROBLEM.  ONLY WHEN LEAD PAINT IS DISTURBED  BY RUBBING, BUMPING, WATER DAMAGE, OR DURING RENOVATION – DOES IT RELEASE TINY PARTICLES OF LEAD DUST THAT CAN HARM YOU.  THE INTENT OF A LEAD BASED PAINT INSPECTION IS TO DETERMINE “IF” THERE IS LEAD BASED PAINT PRESENT AND “WHERE” THE LEAD BASED PAINT IS.  TESTING FOR LEAD BASED PAINT WILL COST BETWEEN $100-$250 IF YOU SEND THE CHIPS TO THE LAB YOURSELF.  OTHERWISE, YOU CAN HIRE AN INSPECTOR FOR $400-$700.

ROOFING:

IN CALIFORNIA, OUR WEATHER IS PRETTY MILD COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, AND THUS OUR ROOFS TEND TO LAST LONGER.  WE DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS FOR MONTHS AT A TIME OR HEAVY SNOWFALL WEARING AND TEARING ROOFING MATERIAL.  STILL, A ROOF IS AN EXPENSIVE THING TO FIX AND SOME HOMEOWNERS OPT TO HAVE A ROOFING CONTRACTOR INSPECT THE ROOF TO DETERMINE THE NEED FOR REPAIRS OR POTENTIAL REPLACEMENT.  MOST BUYERS WAIT AND ONLY HIRE A ROOFER IF THE GENERAL INSPECTOR RECOMMENDS IT.  A ROOF INSPECTOR WILL COST $150 - $350.

SURVEY:

BOUNDARY SURVEY –  A Boundary survey establishes the true property corners and property lines of a parcel of land.  Easement lines may also be located.  If requested, with this type of survey.

ALTA SURVEY – A survey made for the purpose of supplying a title company and lender with survey and location data necessary for the issuing of title and/or mortgage insurance.  A detailed map is required to be done to "alta" specifications.  The acronym "alta" stands for American Land Title Association.  Specifications of this type of survey include (but are not limited to) determining property lines, location of improvements, identifying all easements, utilities and other conditions affecting the property.  ALTA surveys are very comprehensive surveys and typically cost thousands of dollars and take at least a week to 10 days to complete.

ELECTRICAL:

Electrical inspections also generally occur as a follow up to a physical inspection.  If your inspector notices that the electrical defects seem significant enough to warrant a look by a specialist, and they will let you know.  You can expect to pay $150  to $300

PLUMBING:

Similar to an electrical inspection, this is usually a follow up to a general inspection  when needed.  Your general inspection will cover the plumbing, and if there are multiple plumbing issues or other reasons your general inspector feels a plumbing specific inspection is necessary, they will let you know.  This should cost anywhere from $150  to $300

ARBORIST/LANDSCAPING:

Landscaping is an upgrade to any property, but in southern california where we enjoy outdoor weather most of the year, the landscaping is especially important.  If you'd like landscaping ideas and an estimate of costs, you may choose to hire an arborist or landscaper to provide that during your inspection period.  In addition, trees that have diseases should be removed so as not to infect other plants.  An arborist/Landscape architect will likely cost between $200 - $500

HVAC:

HVAC stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.  The systems will be tested by the general inspector.  If found to be not working, needing adjustment, or servicing, he may recommend an inspection by a specialist.  This should cost $150 to $300.

SEPTIC:

If the house is not connected to a public sewer system, but rather has a septic system, you'll most likely want a septic inspection.  It is important to know that the tank is in good working condition and that it is the appropriate size for the house.  And is not leaking or in need of service (periodic pumping).  This is not usually part of the scope of a general inspection and may cost between $400 and $600..

 *OTHER INSPECTIONS INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:

SOLAR PANEL INSPECTION, MASONRY INSPECTION, GENERAL CONTRACTOR INSPECTION, HANDYMAN INSPECTION. 

We can recommend wholeheartedly:

pulling permits: by going to the department of buildings in downtown los angeles

or http://ladbsdoc.lacity.org/idispublic/ 

and, if you are interested in the history of the home you are buying, the building biographer is an excellent source:

tim Gregory, building biographer

www.buildingbiographer.com

he can do fact sheets or narratives.  Prices range in the neighborhood of $400 to $800