General Home Inspection:
A home inspection, conducted by a professional home inspection company, is a necessity when purchasing a home, town home, or a condo. This inspection provides comfort to the buyer that the home is in generally good condition, and that the home's main systems are in good operational order, or will disclose to the buyer what repairs may be needed. The inspection report serves as the basis for the home buyers request for repairs to be conducted by the seller before closing escrow. Home inspection procedures generally include inspection of the following:
Exterior Grounds and Landscaping: Sprinklers functioning?
Roof: The condition of the roof
Crawl space under the house: The inspector will be looking for signs of dry rot, moisture, ventilation screens in place, etc.
Air conditioning and heating systems: Are they functioning properly, Any problems with ventilation?
Appliances: Condition and whether they are currently operating
Plumbing: Are there issues with plumbing leaking?
Asbestos: Will generally recommend whether asbestos may be present or if additional testing may be required
General conditions of the interior of the home
In Southern California, it is common for the buyer to request that the seller provide a home warranty policy to the buyer to protect against problems encountered in the homes appliances and HVAC systems for at least a year after the purchase.
The cost of a home inspection ranges from approx. $250 to $550 depending on the size of the property and the extent of the inspection procedures conducted.
Chimney Inspection: An inspection of the Chimneys is generally recommended. This inspection looks for a build up of combustible deposits, deterioration of the mortar between the bricks in the chimney flue, proper capping of the chimney to prevent moisture from entering the flue, proper size of the smoke box, and problems with the gas connection to the fireplace. The cost of a chimney inspection ranges from $125 to $150 for the first fireplace, and $105 to $125 for each additional fireplace.
Mold/Environmental: Most home inspections do not include a specific test for the presence of mold, other than determining whether there is evidence of prior water damage or the obvious smell of mold. Mold is an increasingly sensitive and complex area, and is the subject of significant litigation. Most homeowners insurance policies have specific exclusions for mold damage or the health effects of mold. The basic rule for inspecting for mold is that where there is moisture, there may be mold. Wherever there is evidence of water damage from a flood or leaking pipes, there may be a possibility of mold. Mold may also be present in areas that are not generally accessible to inspection, such as behind wall paper, cabinets, or inside walls. under floor tiles or carpeting. Wallpaper should be examined for lumps, which may indicate mold growth. A moisture meter may be helpful in determining if there is the potential for mold within walls or behind wall paper. There are also mold inspection companies which utilize an infra-red camera to determine areas of hidden moisture. If the presence of mold is determined, testing for the type of mold may be warranted. Several types of mold are referred to as toxic mold.
Ultimately, the home buyer must make the decision as to how extensively they should test for the presence of mold. This decision should be guided by the trade off of the risk of the presence of mold versus the cost of the mold inspection procedures. The greater the evidence of moisture intrusion into the home, the greater the risk for the presence of mold. Almost no testing procedure, however, can guarantee that mold is not present somewhere within the home.
Mold may be removed and remediated by a company specializing in this area. The extent of the clean-up procedures is dictated by the size of the area to be remediated. Larger areas often require environmental containment to reduce the risk of the spread of the mold spores during clean-up.
The cost of a mold inspection is approx. $300 to $350.
Additional environmental testing may also be desired. This may include testing for asbestos (by sampling a piece of material in a lab), presence of lead based paints, and testing for radon gas (generally done for homes with a basement), Many of the "pop-corn" acoustical ceilings in older homes may contain asbestos. Insulation wrapping pipes in older homes, as well as some floor tiles may also contain asbestos. If these areas are to be disturbed by remodeling, etc., testing for asbestos should be done so that "friable" or air-borne asbestos fibers are not released into the air. Older homes may contain lead based paint. Lead was used as a pigment and drying agent in "alkyd" oil based paint. "Latex" water based paints generally have not contained lead. About two-thirds of the homes built before 1940 and one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain heavily-leaded paint. Some homes built after 1960 also contain heavily-leaded paint. It may be on any interior or exterior surface, particularly on woodwork, doors, and windows. The presence of lead in paint becomes more of a problem if the paint is deteriorating and chipping off.
South Bay Los Angeles Home Inspectors:
Signature Inspections, Tom Clark 888-252-8746
Bruce Burrell - 310-488-1473
Steve Carroll - 310-375-4703
Equity Building Inspection, Michael Boeger - 310-540-0200
South Bay Home Inspections - Randy Pierson - 310-265-0833
Randy Wood - 951-538-7004
Elite Property Inspections - 310-274-0728
Inspections Plus - Ray Castro - 310-547-3347
I have used all of the above inspectors in the past and have found them to be reliable and thorough.
The following are links to some web sites that provide estimates of repair costs: