What home inspections do I need?

All Things Real Estate | episode 12


I'm a huge believer that home inspections are one of the most crucial parts of any transaction when you're buying a home. We've all heard the horror stories. Six months after they move in, they find out there's half a foundation, or the plumbing is old, decrepit, and ruined, or maybe there's a mummy buried in the basement. Well, hopefully not that, but you get my point.

In my experience, when people think about inspections, they think, ah yeah, well, I'll get a general inspector out to the house, and you know, they can sorta do a general inspection of the whole thing and that's it. Now of course, you must do this, but what I want to do is take it a step further, and I want to give you a list of all the inspections that I recommend and that I do on each and every one of my own transactions.

As we pointed out, the first one on that list is a general inspector, or general inspection. Now if you don't have any contacts that are general inspectors, or you don't know a good one, ask your real estate agent, or ask any real estate agent, because they have a large rolodex of vendors that they trust and work with on a daily basis. If you don't know a real estate agent to ask, ask friends or family that have recently purchased a home and have had a good experience with an inspector. And if all else fails, I suggest Googling it. Just make sure that you read the reviews, because you wanna make sure that you have a good inspector that you can trust.

Number two on that list is a chimney inspection. Rule of thumb, house has a chimney, you need a chimney inspection.

Number three on that list is a big one, sewer inspection. Always, always, always, always, always, always do a sewer inspection. If you don't do a sewer inspection, and you find out later that there's a problem with the sewer line, this could be a very very costly repair, from anywhere from 5,000 to upwards of $40,000. And if you live up in the hills, it could cost you a whole lot more than that.

The first three inspections on that list are for houses that you buy that are in flatter areas, and specifically I deal with homes in Los Angeles, and that's usually what we talk about. That's what I'm focusing on here. So if you're purchasing a home in a flat part of the city, then you're going to want do those three inspections.

If you're purchasing a home up in the hills, there's a couple additional inspections that I suggest you get. You're going to start off by getting your general inspection, you're going to get your chimney inspection, you're going get your sewer inspection, and you're going take it a step further, and you're going to get a geological inspection. What's that? In a geological inspection, a geologist will come out to your house and walk the property with you. Basically, they'll research the historical data concerning the dirt on the hill. They'll tell you if it's moved, if there's been a landslide, and what the probability of that happening again in the near future is. It's obviously very pertinent information when you are purchasing a house on a hill. Make sure you get that one done as well.

If you really really want to be thorough with your inspection, I would suggest you also get a survey done. In flatter parts of the city, boundaries of your property can be a lot more clear. But if you have a home up in the hills, your lot can dive down a hill, and it makes it rather unclear where your boundaries are. And in this case, a surveyor will come out to your house, and they will walk around the property with you and flag where your property begins and ends. This is a great idea. I've definitely had situations where I've represented sellers, and they’ve thought that this nice grassy lawn at the bottom of their hill was theirs, and that they're gonna get more money for their property when they sell. When the time came to sell, they realized that it actually isn't theirs at all, and it belonged to their neighbor the whole time. You definitely don't want surprises like that when you're in the middle of escrow.

Those are the big five inspections that I think are an absolute must, certainly the first three inspections on that list for anyone buying in a flatter area, and all five if you're buying a house up in the hills. I believe they're an absolute must, they will protect you, and I highly highly highly recommend them.

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