Inspection FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ's) by Home Buyers

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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ's) by Home Sellers

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: