Silicon Valley Home Inspections
Silicon Valley Home Inspections
A home or property inspector is typically contacted right after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed, and is usually available within a few days to a week. Before you sign, you do need to be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
The purchase of a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. You should learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before you buy, so that you can minimize unpleasant surprises and difficulties afterwards.
Not all home inspectors are equal, of course. In California, home inspectors are not licensed (they are in some states), so it's important that you make sure your inspector is a good one. There are two organizations of inspectors which set a higher standard, though: ASHI and CREIA. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and you can read about them on the web at www.ASHI.com. CREIA is the abbreviation for California Real Estate Inspection Association, and you can see their site at www.CREIA.com. In my experience, ASHI has the highest standards of practice and I would strongly suggest that whenever hiring a home inspector, he or she be an ASHI certified member. I know several in San Jose and throughout Silicon Valley and am happy to provide you the names of some trusted property inspectors.
The standard home inspector's report
This report will review the condition of the home's visible components, such as the furnace, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement (if any), and visible structure. The home inspector will normally begin outside, viewing the perimeter of the house first, then if possible will go up onto the roof to check it and the chimney, if there is one. Next the inspector will view the inside of the home, then the attic and usually last of all, the crawl space.
Be present at the home inspection
It isn't necessary for you to be present for home inspections, but I recommend that you are. You will be able to observe the inspector, and ask questions directly, as you learn about the condition of the home, how its systems work, and how it's maintained. You will also find the written report easier to understand if you've seen the property yourself.
No house is perfect.
If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy the house, but you will know in advance exactly what to expect. A seller may adjust the purchase price, or contract terms, if the inspection reveals major problems. If your budget is tight, or if you don't wish to become involved in future repair work, inspection reports will be extremely important to you.
Of course, a home inspection also points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase.
Can I do a home inspection myself?
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of an ASHI certified home inspector who has inspected hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homes in his or her career. An inspector is familiar with the many elements of home construction, and their proper installation and maintenance. He or she understands how the home's systems and components function together, as well as how and why they may fail.
Above all, most buyers find it very difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this lack of objectivity may effect their judgment. In order to be sure you get the most accurate inspection information, it's best to obtain an impartial third-party opinion by a home inspection expert.
The house is in good condition; did I really need an inspection?
Absolutely. Now you can complete your home purchase in full confidence of your home's condition. You will also have learned valuable things about your new home from the inspector's written report, and will want to keep that information for future reference.
There's already a pre-sale inspection, do I still need my own inspection done?
It is extremely helpful to you when buying a home in Silicon Valley (Santa Clara County, San Mateo County and beyond) to be able to read and digest information from disclosures, inspections, and reports prior to writing a purchase agreement. The more you know about the property upfront, the better!
In some cases, the pre-sale inspection will be from a reputable company - that is, from an inspection firm with a reputation for being thorough and not missing anything. In other cases, the provider may not have such a strong reputation. It is your call as to whether or not you want to have a new inspection done or not, but if you elect to skip the inspection you may not know what was glossed over or omitted until you go to sell the home yourself! And that can be a very unhappy surprise.
If the inspection is really very thorough and is from a great provider, you may opt to simply do a "walk through" with that inspector. The cost is usually less than having a whole new inspection and the time is shorter too.
In most cases, though, I usually recommend getting new inspections because of the uncertainty in what might have been omitted. Too often a home inspection comes back "clean" but 3 years later the owner wants to sell and unhappily discovers that the prior inspection was flawed and that major issues were never mentioned.
Whether you are purchasing a condo, townhouse, or house in San Jose, Los Gatos, or the greater "south bay" area, most of the time having thorough inspections is good insurance on your home purchase. Buying real estate is one of the most expensive investments you'll ever make. The more you know about it, the better!