Buyers don’t always get what they expect in a Home Inspection.

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Buyers don’t always get what they expect in a Home Inspection. Costly errors and misunderstandings are preventable . . .

July 2007 (Palm Springs, Calif.) - In its ongoing mission to inform and educate the public, the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) reminds homebuyers and sellers, as well as all individuals involved in real estate transactions, that a full understanding of the home inspection service they engage is vital to their expectations.

The outcome of a home inspection is often not what a homebuyer expects. Recognized Standards of Practice provide guidelines for inspectors, but consumers and agents often make assumptions leading to disappointment.

FACT: (Error #1) Not understanding the role of the home inspector, and the purpose of the inspection, commonly results in report information being other than the buyer wanted or needed. Not knowing in advance the scope of a home inspection can cause problems with contingency time-frame periods when a home inspector recommends a specialist, and such services were presumed included.

REALITY: The services of a home inspector are those of an inspection generalist, who is not acting as an expert in any craft, trade or professional discipline for which state licensure, certification or registration may be required. While a properly trained, experienced and seasoned professional will render an opinion on the condition of the building, and its systems and components, the home inspection contract does not provide for specialist investigations such as geotechnical or any form of engineering analysis, any hazardous materials or mold, intrusive (video) sewer and fireplace/chimney or other specialist examination.

Confusing the generalist home inspection with that of a code compliance inspection performed by public sector building and safety inspectors can lead to issues with home warranty insurance coverage.

FACT: (Error #2) Prospective homebuyers (and sellers) often mistakenly assume the home inspector will verify compliance (or non-compliance) with local building and safety, zoning or other authorities having jurisdiction. Beyond life or health safety concerns, buyers neglect in verifying public record permits and inspections can lead to home warranty claim denials on the basis of non-compliance.

REALITY: Recognized Standards of Practice for California home inspectors specifically exclude public record or any other third party research, such exclusion being reflected in the language of the inspection agreement. Requesting or expecting such information to be provided is to be in breach of that part of the contract. Where any question might arise as to the permitted nature of any building, system or component, pursuit of that compliance information from either the seller or appropriate government agencies falls to the buyer’s due diligence.

To request cost estimates to repair or correct any defect, aside from being beyond the scope of the inspection, is to place reliance on the wrong party, and may give the appearance of impropriety with respect to state law.

FACT: (Error #3) Proceeding to final closing negotiations on a home sale/purchase transaction without all necessary information can result in financial disaster. Failure to secure firm bids, or at least cost estimates on any defect identified in an inspection report from someone qualified and prepared to perform such work can result in unexpected expense upon taking possession of the home.

REALITY: If market conditions allow, buyers prepared with properly researched and substantiated costs may be able to negotiate closing with concessions depending on the amenability of the seller. Even if qualified, an inspector offering to perform repair work on any reported defect is in contravention of state administrative law if such offer is made within one year of the inspection date. Timely pursuit of such information (in writing) from properly licensed contractors benefits buyers whether or not negotiated concessions are possible.

Homebuyers and sellers are urged to retain the services of qualified inspectors trained and experienced in home inspection. It is also very important that the inspector be a member of a well-founded professional association such as CREIA. Established in 1976, CREIA is the largest and oldest state inspection association in the country. CREIA inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed and maintained by the Association. Recognized by the State of California, these Standards of Practice 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 rigorous written examination of their knowledge of building systems and components, and complete 30 hours of continuing education each year. CREIA members can earn education credit through various sources including monthly chapter meetings, educational conferences and seminars, and other approved activities. CREIA keeps records to ensure that members are complying with these requirements.

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.

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