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Inspection Guide

What is a Home Inspection?

Introduction

Simply, a home inspection is a visual examination of the systems and components of a home performed for a fee with a written report of findings provided to the client

California Home Inspection legislation:

California Business and Professions Code

SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to assure that consumers of home inspection services can rely upon the competence of home inspectors. It is the intent of the Legislature that, in ascertaining the degree of care that would be exercised by a reasonably prudent home inspector pursuant to Section 7196 of the Business and Professions Code, the court may consider the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the California Real Estate Inspection Association, the American Society of Home Inspectors, or other nationally recognized professional home inspection associations.

SEC. 2. Chapter 9.3 (commencing with Section 7195) is added to Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, to read:
CHAPTER 9.3. HOME INSPECTORS
7195. For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Home inspection” is a noninvasive, physical examination, performed for a fee in connection with a transfer, as defined in subdivision (e), of real property, of the mechanical, electrical, or plumbing systems or the structural and essential components of a residential dwelling of one to four units designed to identify material defects in those systems, structures and components. “Home inspection” also includes any consultation regarding the property that is represented to be a home inspection or any confusingly similar term.
(b) A “material defect” is a condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability, or safety of the dwelling. Style or aesthetics shall not be considered in determining whether a system, structure, or component is defective.
(c) A “home inspection report” is a written report prepared for a fee and issued after a home inspection. The report clearly describes and identifies the inspected systems, structures, or components of the dwelling, any material defects identified, and any recommendations regarding the conditions observed or recommendations for evaluation by appropriate persons.
(d) A “home inspector” is any individual who performs a home inspection.
(e) “Transfer” is a transfer by sale, exchange, installment land sale contract, as defined in Section 2985 of the Civil Code, lease with an option to purchase, any other option to purchase, or ground lease coupled with improvements, of real property or residential stock cooperative, improved with or consisting of not less than one nor more than four dwelling units.

7196. It is the duty of a home inspector who is not licensed as a general contractor, structural pest control operator, or architect, or registered as a professional engineer to conduct a home inspection with the degree of care that a reasonably prudent home inspector would exercise.

7196.1. (a) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow home inspectors who are not registered engineers to perform any analysis of the systems, components, or structural integrity of a dwelling that would constitute the practice of civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering, or to exempt a home inspector from Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5500), Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700), Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 7000), or Chapter 14 (commencing with Section 8500) of Division 3.
(b) This chapter does not apply to a registered engineer, licensed land surveyor, or licensed architect acting pursuant to his or her professional registration or license, nor does it affect the obligations of a real estate licensee or transferor under Article 1.5 (commencing with Section 1102) of Chapter 2 of Title 4 of Part 3 of Division 2 of, or Article 2 (commencing with Section 2079) of Chapter 3 of Title 6 of Part 4 of Division 3 of, the Civil Code.

7197. It is an unfair business practice for a home inspector, a company that employs the inspector, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a home inspector, to do any of the following:
(a) To perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs to a structure on which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has prepared a home inspection report in the past 12 months.
(b) Inspect for a fee any property in which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has any financial interest or any interest in the transfer of the property.
(c) To offer or deliver any compensation, inducement, or reward to the owner of the inspected property, the broker, or agent, for the referral of any business to the inspector or the inspection company.
(d) Accept an engagement to make an inspection or to prepare a report in which the employment itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon the conclusions in the report, pre-established findings, or the close of escrow.
(e) A home protection company that is affiliated with or that retains the home inspector does not violate this section if it performs repairs pursuant to claims made under the home protection contract.

7198. Contractual provisions that purport to waive the duty owed pursuant to Section 7196, or limit the liability of the home inspector to the cost of the home inspection report, are contrary to public policy and invalid.

7199. The time for commencement of a legal action for breach of duty arising from a home inspection report shall not exceed four years from the date of the inspection.

What is included in a Home Inspection?

It is important that seekers of a home inspection understand what to expect from this service.

The American Society of Home Inspectors is an international professional society and the foremost organization of home inspectors in North America. Its Standards of Practice describe what is and what is not to be inspected in a “standard” home inspection. These standards are minimum standards. Anything less than what is described in this document is considered substandard.

A proper home inspection of a typical home will generally take 2 to 3 hours. It is strongly recommended that the client attend the home inspection in order to benefit in a “hands-on” fashion and to have the opportunity to question the inspector in detail regarding maintenance or other special concerns. We generally meet with the client immediately after the examination and spent another 1 to 2 hours to review and summarize our findings.

Our home inspection includes observations and a written report of findings in these systems and components:

EXTERIOR
Siding, Flashings, Trim, Doors, Windows, Decks, Balconies, Porches, Stairs, Railings, Eaves, Soffits and Vegetation, Grading, Drainage, Driveways, Patios, Sidewalks, Retaining Walls with respect to their effect on the dwelling.

GARAGE
Floors, Framing, Fire doors, Vehicle Doors and Openers, Door Springs, Fire separation walls, GFCI Protection and Electrical Receptacles

ROOFING
Roof Coverings, Gutters, Downspouts, Flashings, Skylights, Chimneys, Rain Caps, Spark Screens, Vents and other penetrations

ATTICS
Framing, Insulation, Ventilation

INTERIOR
Walls, Ceilings, Floors, Stairs, Balconies, Railings, Doors, Windows, Safety Glass, Fireplaces, Dampers

KITCHENS
Countertops, Cabinets, Faucets, Sinks, Drain Piping, GFCI Protection and Electrical Receptacles, Dishwashers Air Gaps, Disposers, Exhaust Fans

LAUNDRY
Plumbing Connections, Dryer Exhaust Vents, Ventilation, Electrical Receptacles, Utility Sinks

BATHROOMS
Showers, Tubs, Toilets, Enclosures, Safety Glass, Sinks, Cabinets, Countertops, Windows, Ventilation, GFCI Protection and Electrical Receptacles

ELECTRICAL
Service Entrance Wiring, Main Disconnect, Main Panels, Subpanels, Branch Wiring, Receptacles, Switches, Light Outlets and Fixtures

HEATING
Furnaces, Blowers, Filters, Ducting and Duct Insulation, Registers, Boilers, Radiators, Piping, Heat Exchangers, Combustion Air, Venting, Combustion Clearances, Heat Distribution

AIR CONDITIONING
Fans, Pumps, Ducts, Piping, Filters, Ducting and Duct Insulation, Registers, Cooling Distribution

PLUMBING
Main Shut-off Valve, Water Pressure, and Flow, Supply Piping, Hose Bibbs, Cross Connections, Waste Piping, Traps, Fixtures, Gas Meter and Shut-off Valve, Gas Piping

WATER HEATERS
Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves, Bonding, Restraint Straps, Exhaust Venting, Combustion Clearances

FOUNDATION/SUBAREA
Concrete, Floor Framing, Piers, Shear, Bolting, Insulation, Ventilation, Vapor Barriers, Sumps

SAFETY FEATURES
Handrails, Guardrails, Smoke Detectors, Safety Glazing, Fire Egress, GFCI Protection and Electrical Receptacles

What is Professional Behavior?

In addition to offering at least the “standard” inspection as designated by the ASHI Standards of Practice, the home inspector should behave ethically. The ASHI Code of Ethics addresses the do’s and don’ts of ethical behavior for home inspectors.

For instance, the Code and state law prohibit the inspector from performing repair work on homes they have inspected for a period of at least one year. A violation of this is a potential conflict of interest and we abide by and agree with this prohibition. We feel our findings and recommendations are too important to be clouded by the suspicion that we may be attempting to generate repair work for ourselves.

Another important requirement is that of confidentiality. The inspector may not release findings of the inspection without the approval of the client.



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