Everything you want to know about inspections
Do you have questions about property inspections? Our guide will provide you with everything you need to know so that you schedule the right inspections for your new home.
The general inspection covers the attic areas & roof framing, all interiors, the exterior, electrical, foundation, under-floor areas, heating & cooling, plumbing, basement, and roof covering. If there are any specific areas that look problematic and need further investigation, the inspector will refer you to a specialist in that area. The cost ranges from $300 - $1600+ depending on the inspector and the size and systems in the home.
Sewer line inspection
This is an inspection of the main sewer line. The inspector will place a camera through the sewer line and record a color, narrated DVD of the inspection. The inspector will provide you with a written professional opinion and if needed, approximate repair costs. We highly recommend this inspection, as sewer lines may wear out over time or be damaged by tree roots and seismic activity. The lines are not looked at by a general inspector and they are the homeowner’s responsibility until they connect with the public sewer line at the street. Note, if you are buying a condominium, you do not need a sewer line inspection, as this is the responsibility of the building. This inspection costs approximately $250.
The foundation inspector determines the condition of the foundation, including the foundation area, the exterior perimeter (with moisture being the most problematic issue to affect the foundation system), interior, and underneath. The inspector will also let you know if the property has been retrofitted for earthquake safety (this is an upgrade and preferable, but not a requirement). The approximate cost for this inspection is $175 - $500.
This inspection provides geological observations of the property that help evaluate any possible risks. It generally includes detailed research of available records on file at the Department of Building and Safety, including surficial and overall stability of the land, local and regional geologic structure, debris flow hazards, engineering, geology, seismicity, and site drainage. We highly recommend this for properties of large acreage and hillside properties. The geologist will generally offer both verbal and written options, whichever you prefer. This is a great way to educate yourself on the geologic conditions that may influence the present and future performance of the land and existing structures. Depending on the type of report and scope of work, the cost ranges from $500 - $2000+.
The drainage inspector checks to makes sure there is proper drainage on your property. Proper drainage reduces the risk of moisture-related damages and issues, such as a wet crawlspace, basement, or slab that can result in fungus related damage, mold growth, excessive condensation on windows, and other issues. Saturated soil and erosion may also damage the building’s foundation. The report will recommend important risk reducers that include, roof water run-off, downspouts, clearances, gutters, and grades from the building, swales, and added drainage systems.
The chimney inspector looks at all portions of the chimney’s exterior and interior, including accessible areas within attics, basements and crawl spaces. A video camera is placed inside the chimney to view the inner portion. The inspector will provide you with a report that summarizes all findings. The cost ranges from $200 -$400 per fireplace.
Pool or spa inspection
A pool or spa inspector determines the condition of the pool and its equipment. The resurfacing of pools can be expensive, and it is often beyond a general inspector’s expertise to inspect a pool or its equipment.
A mold inspection is suggested after discovery of mold or a major water leak, but may also be done as a preventative measure. The inspector conducts a complete visual analysis of the premises, moisture testing with a digital moisture meter, leak detection, and sample collections for laboratory analysis. Source sampling methods may include swab, tape, bulk, and/or dust. The mold inspection varies in price depending on sample collections. The cost varies from $450 - $1500.
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is inert, colorless and odorless. Radon gas becomes trapped indoors after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation. A radon measurement specialist will provide a precise radon level reading. There are also do-it-yourself radon test kits available for under $100.
Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, insulation, and joint compound used on seams between pieces of sheetrock. Some newer houses may also contain asbestos. The general inspector may find asbestos in the home, and you may elect to have it inspected for safety and request an estimate for its removal. The asbestos inspection costs approximately $350 - $700.
Lead-based paint inspection
Lead-based paint is found in approximately 80% of homes built before 1978, after which the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale and distribution of residential paint containing lead. Lead paint doesn’t always have to be dangerous, but it may be harmful if disturbed by rubbing, bumping, water damage, or during renovations. The lead-based paint inspection will determine if there is lead-based paint present and costs approximately $400-$700. You may also decide to send chips to the lab yourself for $100-$250.
While most buyers hire roofing contractors only if the general inspector recommends it, some opt to have it inspected separately to determine if it needs to be replaced or repaired. The roof inspection costs approximately $150-$350.
An electrical inspection usually occurs as a follow up to a general inspection. If an electrical defect seems significant enough, the inspector will recommend an electrical specialist. This costs approximately $150 - $300.
A plumbing inspection usually occurs as a follow up to a general inspection. If there are multiple plumbing issues or other variants, the inspector will recommend a plumbing specialist. This costs approximately $150 - $300.
HVAC stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. A general inspector will test the systems and if they need adjusting, servicing, or fixing, the inspector may recommend a specialist. The HVAC inspection generally costs $150 - $300.
If the house is on a septic system instead of being connected to a public sewer system, we recommend a septic inspection. It is important to know that the tank is the correct size for the house and in good working condition. It should not be leaking or in need of service (periodic pumping). This is not usually included in the general inspection and may cost between $400 - $600.
This type of survey establishes the true property lines and corners of a parcel of land. If requested, they will also locate the easement lines for you with this type of survey.
This type of survey is for supplying a title company and lender with survey and location data necessary for the issuing of title and/or mortgage insurance. The acronym “ALTA” stands for American Land Title Association, and a detailed map is required to be done to their specifications. The specifications include, but are not limited to, determining property lines, locating improvements, identifying all easements, utilities and other conditions affecting the property. These surveys are very comprehensive and typically cost thousands of dollars and take approximately 7-10 days to complete.
Many buyers choose to hire an arborist or landscaper to provide landscaping ideas and an estimate of costs during the inspection period. Trees that have diseases should be removed so they do not infect other plants. Since Southern California enjoys outdoor weather most of the year, the landscaping is especially important as an upgrade to any property. An arborist/landscape architect will likely cost $200-$500
- Solar Panel Inspection
- Masonry Inspection
- General Contractor Inspection
- Handyman Inspection
We highly recommend pulling permits at the Department of Building and Safety in downtown Los Angeles or through www.thepermitreport.com.
For obtaining the history of your home, a great source is the building biographer, Tim Gregory at www.buildingbiographer.com. He does fact sheets and/or narratives. Prices range from $400-$800.
- Resources for Buyers
- Resources for Sellers