Here is a list of most frequently asked questions about home inspections
Q. How is The Real Estate Inspection Company different than other inspection companies?
A. We inspect more than most companies, and we have ongoing internal training, verified reports, and a lot more. See our comparison table for more details.
Q. How much does a home inspection cost?
A. Our full price list is available right on our price page.
Q. What is Cancelled Escrow Protection?
A. It is a simple guarantee that if your escrow gets cancelled for any reason, we will perform a second inspection for you within 45 days, and you will get a $100 discount off of the second inspection. (Read More).
Q. How can I sign the inspection agreement?
A. We send you a link to all of our agreements when your appointment is set up so that you can review the appropriate agreement for the services you selected. We can send you a blank copy by request to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you will not be attending the inspection, please print out the agreement, sign it, and send it back. The agent may not sign the agreement without a power of attorney. Only the client may sign the agreement. You can scan and email it to email@example.com or fax it to us at (760) 690-4487. This must be done prior to the inspection appointment.
Q. How can I pay for my inspection if I won’t be at the appointment?
A. You will receive a confirmation email as soon as the appointment is scheduled. The email will contain a link to securely pay online. You can also call our office to pay ahead of time with a credit card. We can only accept credit cards issued by a bank in the U.S., and your billing address must have a U.S. zip code. If the report is not paid for ahead of time, the inspector will upload the report and send you a link to pay online with a credit card when the report is ready. This will prevent anyone from seeing the report including your agent until it is paid. Only the client can pay for the inspection. Avoid delays by making your payment ahead of the inspection!
Q. Do you guarantee your work?
A. Yes. We offer a limited Home Inspection Guarantee. (See details)
Q. How long does an inspection take?
A. A typical home inspection takes 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Houses in poor condition and larger houses over 4,000 square feet may take longer due to more documentation.
Q. Do you charge an extra fee for old houses?
A. No! Many home inspectors do, but we feel it is an arbitrary charge. We will still enter and inspect crawl spaces, and report on upgraded electrical, heating, and plumbing systems. This is where many problems are identified, and is a critical part of an inspection.
Q. Do you check for mold conditions as part of your general home inspection?
A. Yes. Our mold-certified home inspectors include a Visual Mold Assessment at every home inspection at no additional charge. This is a $300 – $500 value. If a condition exists that is conducive to mold growth, the client has the option to have samples taken and tested. There is a fee for each sample taken to cover lab costs, sampling material, shipping, etc. We can perform air testing or physical “bulk” sampling of mold growth. Pricing for mold testing is on our pricing page, and you can learn more about our services by visiting our Mold Page.
Q. Do you check for Radon?
A. No. Radon gas levels in San Diego are very low. San Diego is in Zone 3 with predicted indoor Radon levels of less than 2 pCi/L. The EPA has identified Radon levels of 4 pCi/L or more as a health hazard. You can view the California Radon Map along with links to get free or low costs radon test kits.
Q. Why do the utilities have to be on for an inspection?
A. It is critically important for the utilities to be on for a full evaluation of the house. Without utilities, we cannot test the appliances, heating or AC systems, electrical system, or plumbing system for leaks. Additional re-inspection fees will be charged for return visits to a house.
Q. Why is there a charge for the inspector to come back out to the property?
A. Our home inspectors are paid for their time just like other professionals. The inspection fee covers one inspection appointment. If we have to return to a property it takes up another inspection time slot. Most of the time a home inspection cannot be completed due to poor planning, and no utilities. Please confirm that the utilities are on for the inspection.
Q. Can you tell me if I have a slab leak?
A. Slab leaks are caused by pipes in the slab that corrode and leak. Sometimes the floor will feel hot when you walk across the leak barefoot. Some flooring material will become damaged in the area such as wood, laminate or carpet. It is much harder to tell with tile. We make every effort to find moisture in a house, but slab leaks are considered a concealed defect. Home inspectors do not perform a pressure drop test or use any listening devices for leaks. Therefore slab leaks may go undetected during a home inspection.
Q. Do you inspect the foundation?
A. A home inspection is limited to the “visible and accessible” portions of the home. Home inspectors cannot lift flooring material which precludes them from viewing the slab. The foundation stem wall is also difficult to see in many houses unless there is a crawlspace. Again, the visible sections of the foundation stem wall are reviewed. Evidence of cracking or settlement will be documented. Evidence can include cracks in the siding material, doors, and windows that are no longer square, and noticeably sloping floors.
NOTE: We do not perform any specialized testing or analysis of the slab such as manometer evaluations, nor do we use any specialized equipment to determine the integrity, levelness, flatness, or reinforcement of the foundation or slab.
Q. Are you insured?
A. Yes, we carry E&O, Workers Compensation, and General Liability insurance.
Q. Do you carry Worker’s Compensation Insurance for your employees?
A. Yes, we carry worker’s compensation insurance as required by law. Our inspectors are employees, not sub-contractors.
Q. Do your inspectors use Infrared Thermal Imaging at every inspection?
A. Yes, each of our home inspectors is equipped with two infrared thermal imaging cameras and they are used at every inspection.
Q. Is the Infrared Camera like X-ray vision?
A. NO! The Infrared Camera (IR Camera) shows the inspector the surface temperatures of a material. We use the IR Camera to find differences in temperature which can indicate the location of an anomaly such as moisture, missing insulation, over-heated circuit breakers, broken ducts, etc. The IR camera is not a moisture meter. It only “sees” temperature. Wet areas emit heat differently than dry areas. The IR Camera helps the inspector find these areas which may otherwise go unseen. Please read the detailed description of how this technology works on our Thermal Imaging page.
Q. Can the Infrared Camera predict leaks?
A. The Infrared can only show the inspector the conditions on the day of the inspection, with the conditions that exist on that day. If there was a roof leak, but the inspection takes place in the middle of summer when the leak has long-since dried, it will not detect the old leak. Likewise, a small leak in the plumbing may not be detectable if a vacant house has had the utilities shut off. There just might not be enough moisture present during the relatively short inspection time.
Q. A lot of houses built in the 1980’s and early 1990’s have polybutylene plumbing also known as PBT or Qwest. Do you report on the presence of PBT plumbing?
A. Yes, where it is visible. In some houses, the plumbing is routed through the walls and in the floor between the first and second floors. It is sometimes not possible to confirm the type of plumbing in a house. Sometimes only a portion of this type of plumbing as been replaced but not all of it. Occasionally we have to recommend that you get a licensed plumber to confirm the material used throughout the entire plumbing system.
Q. Is a home inspection the only inspection I need before deciding to buy a house?
A. Most of the time, yes. However, a home inspection should not be considered an exhaustive test of every component of a house. For example, a home inspector is not an engineer and cannot perform a soils stability test, or provide load calculations. A home inspector does not “water test” the roof, windows or doors. This would involve the use of special spray equipment which is beyond the scope of a home inspection. A home inspector looks for evidence of defects (staining, noises, uneven surfaces, cracks, odors, etc) and based on the evidence, may recommend further evaluation by a professional who is licensed in that particular trade (plumber, electrician, roofer, etc.).
A very important concept for clients to understand is that a home inspector can only report what he sees. This includes defects that are directly observable such as bad wiring or a furnace that does not work. An inspector will also report on any evidence that may indicate problems that are not directly observable. This would include stains on a ceiling or wall which may indicate a leak exists under certain conditions.
Q. How important is it to take action on the recommendations in the report?
A. It is essential that you take action on the recommendations. If your report has a recommendation for further evaluation by a licensed professional, do it BEFORE the end of your contingency period. For example, if there is a recommendation to have something repaired or evaluated by a licensed plumber, you should forward your report to a licensed plumber immediately to get their opinion. They can provide you with an estimate for the cost of repairs, or estimated life remaining of a component. IF YOU DO NOT ACT BEFORE THE END OF YOUR CONTINGENCY PERIOD AND BUY THE HOUSE, YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COST TO REPAIR THESE ITEMS WHICH MAY BE SUBSTANTIAL.
Q. Do home inspectors provide quotations, or estimate the cost to repair something?
A. No. Home inspectors are forbidden by law (in California) from performing repairs on a house they inspect. Unless your home inspector happens to be a licensed contractor for a particular trade, they cannot estimate what someone else would charge for something. For example, if your roof requires repair or replacement, you should contact someone who will actually do the work for an estimate. That’s why it is very important for you to act on the recommendations of your inspector. You don’t want to be surprised by the cost to repair something.
Q. Will the inspector come back out to confirm that repairs were done and done correctly?
A. In most cases no. We always recommend that repairs should be performed by a licensed professional. We suggest that you should ask for licensed professionals to do the repairs in your Request For Repairs to the seller. The licensed contractor will be responsible for the repairs. If the home seller performs the repairs himself, there is no guarantee. If you or your bank insist that we go back to verify repairs, there is a $200 re-inspection fee.
Q. I’m buying the house “As-Is”. What good is a home inspection if the seller won’t be making repairs?
A. Even though you are buying a house As-Is, you should still know what that means. Are you getting a good deal? Or are you buying an inexpensive house with a lot of expensive problems? A home inspection will help you determine how much work lies ahead.
Q. Should I get a home warranty?
A. Yes! Especially if you are buying a house that is more than 10 years old. A home inspection is not a warranty of any kind. So get a good home warranty. You should also read the fine print because many items are NOT included in the coverage. Items that are not included in a basic home warranty include the roof, air conditioner, pool equipment, and higher end appliances. READ THE COVERAGE and make sure that it suits your needs for the house you are buying!!!
Q. If the inspection is getting paid through escrow, do I still have to pay?
A. Yes. Please be prepared to pay for the inspection on the day of the inspection. When we receive a check from the escrow company, we will immediately reimburse you. This policy is in place because too many escrows fall out, and we can’t get paid. There are no exceptions to this, and we will not bill escrow.
Q. What is your cancellation policy?
A. We ask for the courtesy of 24 hours notice for cancellations. Our inspectors are paid for their time just like any employee. Inspections that are canceled less than 24 hours in advance of the inspection cannot be booked with someone else. We, therefore, have a $200 cancellation fee for last minute cancellations.
Q. There are companies that charge less for an inspection. Why is there a difference in price?
A. Just like any professional those with more experience, better equipment, long history of performing great work, charge a little more. Most home inspectors also hide behind their contract and greatly limit their liability. Please read “Is That Home Inspector Hiding Behind His Contract” and also “Beware the Newbie Home Inspector” for more information.
Q. Why should I pay for a drain line inspections? Won’t clogged drain lines be found during the inspection?
A. Home inspectors run clear water down the drains. We flush toilets, run tubs and showers, faucets, dishwashers etc. But we do not flush anything down the drains such as toilet paper or other bulky material (such as food particles or human waste). Inspectors cannot simulate the use of a family during an inspection. A drain that may drain adequately with clear water may quickly become clogged with toilet paper if there are roots in the line or if rust causes debris to cling to the inside of the pipe. The only way to “see” the condition of a drain line is by sticking a camera down the drain.
Q. How do I determine if I need a drain line inspection?
A. We typically recommend a drain line video inspection on any house built before 1970. Older drain lines are more susceptible to damage by roots from mature trees and soil movement that can damage joints in the pipe. Older homes (prior to 1960) are likely to have cast iron pipes which are subject to severe rust after 40 years or more. Rusted pipes can crack and allow root intrusion, or rust causing constriction. In very old houses built prior to 1940, a house may even have clay pipes which are very likely damaged.
Q. Do you check to see if the house is “up-to-code”?
A. Home inspections do not include any research whatsoever (such as verifying square footage or the issuance of permits), and do not establish code-compliance for the year in which the house was built. It is important that you understand this because the house will not conform to many current codes. Older homes do not have to comply with current building codes. Inspectors do not identify every aspect of a home that does not comply with current building codes. Codes vary from year to year, and the vast majority of them are not retroactive. For example, the National Electric Code (NEC) is not retroactive, but home inspectors will commonly recommend electrical upgrades in the interest of safety, and that is as it should be. Therefore, please read your report very carefully and consider whatever action is recommended.
Q. Do you check for Rodents and Termites?
A. As generalists, home inspectors are specifically prohibited by state law from commenting on the presence or absence of termites and other wood-destroying organisms which is the responsibility of a state-licensed pest control expert and commonly mandated as a condition of sale and usually scheduled and paid for by the sellers. Identifying rodent infestation is not part of a general home inspection. “Pest” inspectors are licensed by the Sate of California. Home inspectors are not. If we notice material which may be evidence of rodents, we will note it. However, if you are concerned about rodents you must ask the pest inspector to include it in their report.
Q. What is a Mold inspection?
There are two parts to a typical mold inspection. The first is a thorough moisture inspection. This is done to identify conditions that are conducive to mold growth. These include leaks, moisture intrusion from exterior sources such as irrigation, poor drainage, or failed waterproofing. The second part of a mold inspection is the collection of samples which are sent to a lab for evaluation. The most common sample is an air sample. Air samples are used to identify the quantity of mold spores suspended in the air at the interior vs. the exterior. If the concentration of mold spores exceeds certain levels, it may be unhealthy.
Q. Why do I need at least three samples?
In order to get an accurate evaluation of the air quality inside the home, we need to compare it to the air quality outside the home. We take two samples at the exterior, and at least one from the interior. Larger homes should have additional samples taken to be accurate. The exterior samples are used as a baseline against which the interior samples are compared. A significantly higher concentration inside the house can indicate mold growth.
Q. How will I get the results?
We will provide you with a two-part report. We will take field notes onsite which documents the findings of our visual evaluation, and the lab report which will show you the analysis results. Standard turnaround time is 3-4 days. Express service is available at an additional fee.
Q. More to come…. If you have additional questions that were not addressed here, please call us or contact us through our website for a quick response.