Frequently Asked Questions
When you have questions, we have the answers. Here is a list of The Real Estate Inspection Company’s most frequently asked questions about home inspections. If you need additional information, you can also contact us at (800) 232-5180 to speak with someone directly. We serve San Diego and nearby areas.
Our inspections are more detailed than most companies’, and we have ongoing internal training and verified reports — just to name a few things. See our comparison table for more details.
Pricing is based on the type of property (condo, single-family, multi-family, commercial, and so on), the size (square footage), and any ancillary services (pool inspections, barns, guest houses, mold testing, and more.) You can also choose from upgraded tiers of services which offer you great value. The most accurate way to receive a quotation is to call our office or use our online scheduler to enter information. For your convenience, you can view the tiered pricing on our pricing page.
We send you a link to the appropriate agreement(s) when your appointment is set up so that you can review the selected services. 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. This must be done prior to the inspection appointment.
You will receive a confirmation email as soon as the appointment is scheduled. The email will contain a link to securely pay online. Alternatively, 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. Avoid delays by making your payment ahead of the inspection!
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 will take longer due to more documentation.
No! Many home inspectors do charge more for older homes, 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.
Yes. Our mold-certified home inspectors include a visual mold assessment at every home inspection for no additional charge. (This does not include mold testing.) If a condition exists that is conducive to mold growth, the client has the option to have samples taken and tested. We charge a fee for each sample taken to cover lab costs, sampling material, shipping, and more. We can also perform air testing or physical “bulk” sampling of mold growth. Pricing for mold testing is on our pricing page. Learn more about our services by visiting our mold page.
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. View the EPA radon resources for more information, which includes links to get free or low-cost radon test kits.
It is critically important for the utilities to be on for a full evaluation of the house. Without utilities, we cannot test the appliances, HVAC system, electrical system, or plumbing system for leaks. Additional reinspection fees will be charged for return visits to a house.
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. We will not be able to complete inspections without operational utilities. Please confirm that the utilities are on for the inspection and all parts of the property are accessible.
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.
A home inspection is limited to the “visible and accessible” portions of the home. Home inspectors cannot lift flooring material that precludes them from viewing the slab. The foundation stem wall is also difficult to see in many houses unless there is a crawlspace. Again, we will review visible sections of the foundation stem wall and document evidence of cracking or settlement. Evidence can include windows that are no longer square, noticeably sloping floors, and cracks in the siding material and doors. 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.
Yes, we carry E&O, vehicle, workers’ compensation, and general liability insurance.
Yes, we carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by law. Our inspectors are employees, not subcontractors.
Yes, each of our home inspectors is equipped with two infrared thermal imaging cameras for use at every inspection.
No! The infrared 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, overheated circuit breakers, broken ducts, and so on. 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.
The camera 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.
Yes, where it is visible. In some houses, the plumbing is routed through the walls and in the floor between the first and second stories. In these situations, it is not always possible to confirm the type of plumbing in a house. Sometimes, only a portion of this type of plumbing has 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.
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, such as staining, noises, uneven surfaces, cracks, odors, and so on. Based on the evidence, the inspector may recommend further evaluation by a professional who is licensed in that particular trade (pest/termite, plumber, electrician, roofer, and more). 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 possible leak.
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 that 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.
No. Home inspectors are forbidden by California law 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 repair costs. However, we work with a reputable local company called TheQwikFix. For a small fee, they provide a price quotation based on your inspection report. You simply upload the report to them and request repairs. Within 24 hours, you’ll have a repair estimate. This eliminates the need to meet contractors at the property. TheQwikFix can also perform repairs on listings and have the cost billed to escrow.
Firstly, we always recommend that repairs should be performed by a licensed professional. You should ask for licensed professionals to do the repairs in your Request for Repairs to the seller. The licensed contractor will then be responsible for the repairs. If the home seller performs the repairs himself, there is no guarantee. The home inspection fee includes one visit to the property. If you or the bank need verification that the repairs were made, we can schedule a reinspection for an additional fee, which is listed on our pricing page.
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 and expense lies ahead.
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.
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.
We ask for the courtesy of a 24-hour 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. Since our inspectors are paid for their time, there is a 30% cancellation fee for last-minute cancellations.
Just like any professional, those who have more experience, high-tech equipment, a reputation for excellence, and an extensive array of innovative services, charge a little more. Many home inspectors tend to hide behind their contracts to greatly limit their liability. We don’t do that. Please read “Is That Home Inspector Hiding Behind His Contract” and also “Beware the Newbie Home Inspector” for more information.
Home inspectors run clear water down the drains. We flush toilets, run tubs, showers, faucets, dishwashers, and the like. But we do not flush anything down the drains such as toilet paper or other bulky material (like food particles or human waste). Inspectors cannot simulate a family’s typical appliance usage 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 fishing a camera throughout the drain.
We recommend a sewer scope video inspection on all houses. Even newer homes can have problems ranging from bad glue joints to low spots that collect waste, or even excess fat from grease having been poured down the drain. 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 that become subject to severe rust after 40 years or more. Rusted pipes can crack and allow root intrusion or rust accumulation causing constriction. In very old houses built prior to 1940, a house may even have clay pipes, which are very likely damaged.
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.
As generalists, home inspectors are specifically prohibited by state law from commenting on the presence or absence of termites and other wood-destroying organisms. This is the responsibility of a state-licensed pest control expert and is commonly mandated as a condition of sale. A pest inspection is usually scheduled and paid for by the sellers. Identifying rodent infestation is not part of a general home inspection. Althought pest inspectors are licensed by the state of California, home inspectors are not. With that said, if we notice material that 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.
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 and 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 concentration of mold spores suspended in the air in the interior of a building versus the outdoor levels of mold spores. If the concentration of mold spores exceeds certain levels, it may be unhealthy.
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 two from the interior, one of which may be a tape or swab. 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.
We will provide you with a two-part report: 1) onsite field notes that document the findings of our visual evaluation, and 2) the lab report that will show you the analysis results. Standard turnaround time is 3 to 4 days. Express service is available for an additional fee.