Q: Marsha, I just went into escrow on a 1972 three-bedroom two-bath home in Goleta. It’s a beautiful remodel. The roof is new, and the electrical and plumbing have recently been upgraded. I’d like to save the home inspection cost for other house expenses. My Realtor is insisting I get an inspection. What are your thoughts?
A: I empathize with wanting to save money. When you purchase a home, it feels as if everyone has their hand out for money. However, how will you feel if after you purchase the home you discover the electrician, plumber, or builder did substandard work? Will the money seem well spent then? Have you heard the saying “penny wise and pound foolish”?
In California, a buyer generally has 17 days in which to conduct all the physical inspections they choose. A general all-encompassing inspection will cover the structure, the exterior, electrical, plumbing, roofing, and insulation. These systems may not be obvious or even noticed by the buyer. The physical approval of the house is a contingency of your sale. If you aren’t happy with the home’s condition, you’re entitled to cancel the contract and receive your deposit back.
Inspections are generally divided into three parts: (1) items that are serviceable now but need to be monitored, (2) maintenance and what should be replaced, fixed, or serviced, and (3) health and safety issues.
Here are some home inspection matters to consider. The first is, don’t assume a newly constructed or recently upgraded home is in perfect shape. Even though the work was done with permits and complies with all the codes and ordinances, it doesn’t mean a home inspector won’t find a problem. Builders, workers, and contractors are human, and mistakes are made.
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Another consideration is in choosing your home inspector. You are hiring a professional who will conduct a thorough inspection on one of the biggest investments you may ever make. Get referrals and talk with at least two inspectors. Go online to check references, credentials, and customer comments about your potential hire. You don’t want anyone overly picky; every home will have some issues. You also don’t want anyone too forgiving of faults either. Don’t hire the least expensive. You may just get what you pay for.
Finally, you and your real estate agent should be there for the entire inspection. Yes, it will take two or three hours, but it will be time well spent. Home inspectors encourage clients to be there. The inspector will systematically perform the inspection, and you will also spend quality time in your potential new home. When he discovers an issue, he’ll call you over and explain the situation. You’ll receive a written report with great photos, but his verbal explanations will defuse misunderstandings and put perspective on his findings.
Yes, home inspections cost money, but how much will waiving the inspection cost you? Spend the money now and rest easier in your new home.
Marsha Gray has worked in Santa Barbara real estate for more than 25 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, where she helps her clients buy and sell homes and with lending services. To read more of Marsha’s Q&A articles, visit MarshaGraySBhomes.com. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or MarshaGraySB@gmail.com. DRE# 012102130; NMLS #1982164.