November 2006 (Palm Springs, Calif.) - In an ongoing series during its 30th anniversary year, the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) cautions home buyers and sellers, as well as all individuals involved in real estate transactions, that there are myths and misconceptions associated with retaining the services of a professional home inspector. CREIA presents Part Seven of the continuing series “Myths & Realities about Home Inspections”.
Myth: A home seller doesn’t need to prepare for an inspection.
REALITY: Homeowners can assist their selling efforts by attending to some basic maintenance items that will help a home get a more favorable inspection report. Many inspection reports are filled with the same neglected maintenance items that are prevalent in many homes. To move a home sale along to a faster and easier closing, the following items - most of which can be accomplished with little or no cost - are recommended:
- Clean out clogged gutters or vegetation debris from roof.
- Divert all water away from the house or foundation (for example, downspouts, sump pump discharge, condensation drain, etc.). Clean out basement drains.
- Clean or replace heating and cooling systems 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 and doors.
- Make sure all windows and doors are in proper operating condition, replace any cracked glass.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Make sure plumbing fixtures (toilets, tubs, showers, sinks) are in proper working order (repair any leaks).
- Caulk all exterior wall penetrations.
- Provide clear access to the attic, crawlspace, heating systems, electrical panels, water heaters, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected.
Myth: Inspectors are all the same, so hire the lowest priced one.
REALITY: Home inspection fees vary widely. Lower fees may indicate an inspector who is new to the business or does not spend sufficient time performing the inspection (usually 2-3 hours). A home is the most expensive commodity you are likely to purchase 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 in training and experience. At present, anyone can claim to be an inspector because home inspection is not licensed in California. 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). Membership in this professional association requires obtaining initial training, passing a rigorous testing exam, and mandatory adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing education (30 hours per year). When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in CREIA. Inspectors who claim adherence to CREIA standards but who are not actual CREIA members are avoiding professional accountability and should be viewed with caution.
- 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.
- Sample Report: The proof is in the product, so be sure to request a sample report. What you're looking for is a format which is not only detailed and comprehensive, but which is easily interpreted and which makes a clear distinction between defective building conditions and "boiler plate" verbiage. Some reports are so heavily loaded with general building information and liability disclaimers, that pertinent information about the property is obscured.
Make sure you retain the services of a qualified inspector who is trained and experienced in home inspection. It is also very important that your inspector be a member of a professional association such as CREIA to ensure qualifications and continued education. Since 1976, CREIA, a non-profit voluntary membership organization has been providing education, training, and support services to the real estate inspection profession and to the public. Inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed and maintained by the Association. These Standards of Practice have been recognized by the State of California, and are considered the source for Home Inspector Standard of Care by the real estate and legal communities.
CREIA requires its members to successfully pass a written test of property systems and complete 30 hours of education each year. Members can accumulate credits through various sources of education including monthly chapter meetings, conferences, and other approved activities. CREIA keeps records to ensure that members are complying with the requirements. Educational topics cover a variety of technical subjects including updates and advances that affect property inspection and the business of real estate inspection.
CREIA is dedicated to consumer protection and education. To locate a qualified CREIA inspector near you click here or call CREIA at (800) 388-8443.