Let me guess. You just went into contract, possibly on your first home. You ordered a home inspection and you have no idea what’s going on. Don’t worry. I’ve got answers and it’s coming right up.
I’m Warren Oberholser with Exp Realty. I’m located in the East Bay, Tri-Valley area in Northern California. As a realtor my goal is to help both buyers and sellers get maximum results for one of their biggest investments, their home.
So, you finally get your offer accepted on your dream home and your home inspection has been ordered. Now, at this point, it’s possible you might be a little concerned and a little scared because you’ve never done this before. And you’re about to make the biggest purchase of your life. Guess what? You should be concerned and yeah, possibly scared. The reason why is you have no idea if the house you’re about to purchase is in good order, or if it needs repairs, possibly major ones, if you haven’t had any inspections performed. For this reason, you need to have somebody who can systematically and methodically check, test and verify the condition of the home you want to purchase.
Fortunately, I have an expert in the field. His name is Sean Abreu from Specialty Inspections. He’ll go over everything a home inspection covers and most important what they don’t cover. So let’s see what the expert has to say when you need a home inspection.
Warren Oberholser: Sean, please explain the associations for home inspectors and what is expected when you have a home inspection.
Sean Abreu: There are two organizations that sort of govern home inspectors in the country, one’s CREIA, and one is ASHI. And they have a scope of operations that we’re supposed to look at, and do these things and not do these. For instance, in electrical, we’re required to open every main panel and every subpanel. We’re required to test a certain number of receptacles or outlets, not every one. But we’re not required to inspect low voltage systems like doorbells, speaker phones, and we’re not required to inspect sprinkler systems and irrigation system. But we are required to inspect water pressure of the house and all the faucets and things like that.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain the difference between a home inspection and a termite inspection.
Sean Abreu: If we’re testing a sink or a tub we’re looking for flow. Is the hot water coming out of the hot water faucet, cold out of the cold? And of course we’re looking for leaks. We’re looking for any defects or deficiencies. Whereas the termite inspector is merely looking for leaks that would cause damage to wood, like cabinetry. So they don’t care if a faucet’s broken or loose. They only care if it leaks.
Warren Oberholser: What’s the first thing you do when you start your home inspection?
Sean Abreu: You immediately start looking at every detail. When I’m walking up to the door to say hello to the clients, or meet the agents at the house, I immediately start identifying what type of walkway is it. Or how large are the cracks in the driveway? What siding is on the house? What kind of windows are on the house? What is the general condition? And that will give me a real good indication if the house has a lot of defects and issues, or if I’m dealing with a property that’s been well-maintained.
Warren Oberholser: Does a home inspector include the roof?
Sean Abreu: We do roofs if there is not a scheduled roof inspection. So if there’s no roof inspection, the first thing I’ll do is check with the agent or the broker. Has there been a roof inspection? Do you want me to take a look at the roof? And if there isn’t and they haven’t had a roof inspection, we climb up. I endorse that you get a roof inspection because our roof inspectors are contractors. They’re licensed roofing contractors. They’re able to give a bid on any of the repair work that they’d see. Whereas because home inspectors are prohibited from bidding, we can’t give you any of that information. So you get a lot more information from a roofing contractor.
Warren Oberholser: If your company does the repairs on the roof, do you offer a warranty?
Sean Abreu: What we do is if there are repairs made on the roof, then we offer a warranty on the repairs of the roof. Of course, if we re-roof, then we offer a warranty.
Warren Oberholser: How do you inspect the furnace?
Sean Abreu: We’re just required to take off the panel covers. Look at the burners, read the data on the data plate. What year is the manufacturer? How much BTU does each unit have?
Warren Oberholser: Where’s this information found?
Sean Abreu: They’re all labeled on the data plate frame.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain what you do when you’re inspecting the hot water heater.
Sean Abreu: Date of manufacture, capacity, corrosion on the tank, any defects you might find. The most common thing we find is corrosion at the connections of the water supplies to the top of the tank.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain the importance of correctly strapping the hot water heater.
Sean Abreu: Very. Because as you know, that is the only one thing a home inspector can call in the report that has to be resolved by the time of escrow.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain how you inspect tankless hot water heaters.
Sean Abreu: We only test them, as far as operating faucets in the house, to see is hot water getting into all the faucets. What is the flow like? There’s some characteristics with water heaters, I find tankless, I find interesting in that we can’t open up the casing. We can’t go in and look at the coils or anything like that. So it’s a noninvasive inspection. We are looking for the same things on a normal water heater. We’re looking for the temperature, pressure relief valve. We’re looking at the gas connection. We’re looking at the water hoses. And we’re looking at the venting.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain the difference between inspecting an older home versus a newer one.
Sean Abreu: It’s still the same inspection by our scope and what we’re required to look at. We look at all the same things, but a new home compared to an old home, they are two different universes. Not just because of the methods of construction or the wiring in the house of the electrical system or the plumbing. Just the things that come with decades of entropy on a property. Those are the things you have to start looking for. In a house that’s 20 years young, you generally know that it’s going to be built to somewhere around current code. You’re not going to be looking for a lot of code violation. You still have your eyes open. They do exist and you can’t sleepwalk through a newer home.
Warren Oberholser: What do you look for when you’re inspecting the crawl space?
Sean Abreu: Foundation, number one, plumbing leaks, number two, structural issues with the house. Say, the house has a lot of sloping floors. That’s where we’ll identify is this a structural issue or is it just an old house on expansive soils?
Warren Oberholser: What do you look for when you’re inspecting the attic?
Sean Abreu: Structural issues, broken rafters, damaged truss work, leaks in the sheathing. That’s the number one thing is leaks. But the number one daily thing is how many rat droppings do we find in an attic, right? It’s always a number one issue.
Warren Oberholser: How do you inspect the attic insulation?
Sean Abreu: Part of that is measuring the R-value of the insulation. How dense and thick is the insulation? What is the material of insulation? Has the insulation settled, scattered, been disturbed by people working in the attic? Those are the main things we’re looking at before.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain how you inspect the appliances.
Sean Abreu: Appliances to me is a very touchy subject because we don’t inspect refrigerators, but we do operate a cooktop, turn on the oven. We only run two features on the oven. So if an oven has convection features, we’re only running bake and broil. On the cooktops, we just make sure they’re all active. We’re not actually testing the efficiency of the oven, how much heat’s generated, how long do they take to get to temperature, that type of stuff. We’re only testing for normal operating [inaudible 00:07:28]. And is it secured to either the floor of the cabinet? So when you see us pull on an oven and it pulls up. So California wants to have all the ovens secure to either the floor or to a wall. So we’re testing for that as well and dishwashers include the appliances too. So do instant hot water dispensers, filtered water dispensers. And again, we’re looking for leaks with anything that has to do with water.
Warren Oberholser: Please explain your summary and your written report.
Sean Abreu: Categorize our summary. So as you know, the summary is where all the most important issues, the salient items are, they’re way in. And we categorize it by health and safety, repair, investigate further, and upgrade. Now upgrade is a very gray area. That’s only if we really think this is an important item that should be brought front and center. For instance, if the water heater has a lot of corrosion at the base and you see it’s been leaking, but it’s not leaking now, I will make a point to put that in the summary because that’s something that can go any day. Now, the health and safety is funny too, where you find a gas leak at the furnace. That’s a serious health and safety issue. You find uneven steps in the backyard. That’s also a health and safety, but that’s not as important. So I tend to not put those in the summary, but put the real important items.
Warren Oberholser: If a repair is indicated, do you recommend a contractor and a cost associated with the repair?
Sean Abreu: We are prohibited from recommending any contractors and trying to avoid collusion.
I hope you enjoy this article. Please email me any questions you may have. [email protected]
For any questions for Sean, please reach out to him directly: Sean Abreu.
Sean has been in the home inspection business since 2012.
He is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Sean Abreu: Home Inspection
261 Spring St.
Pleasanton, CA 94566
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