Jeff Frishof is always our first choice as a Home Inspector for both our buyers and sellers. We appreciate his level of expertise and professionalism. He educates our clients about the condition of the home, without alarming them, and he will frequently suggest a solution. We also appreciate his professional approach to getting the invoice and the contract to the clients, and the quick turnaround. He e-mails us the report, and provides a hard copy the next day. He is excellent!
Liz Rhodes & Ron Marin
Alain Pinel Realtors
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Home Inspection?
An inspection is a visual examination of the structure and systems of a building. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, condominium, mobile home, or commercial building, you should have it thoroughly inspected before placing it on the market or the purchase by an experienced and impartial professional inspector.
What Does A Home Inspection Include?
A complete inspection includes a visual examination of the building from top to bottom. The inspector evaluates and reports their unbiased opinion on the condition of the structure, roof, foundation, drainage, plumbing, heating system, central air-conditioning system, visible insulation, walls, windows, and doors. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report.
When Do I Request An Inspector?
As a seller, this should be prior to placing the property on the market. As a buyer, the best time to consult the inspector is right after you’ve made an offer on your new building. The real estate contract usually allows for a grace period to inspect the building. Ask your professional agent to include this inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional inspection.
Can A Building "FAIL" The Inspection?
No. A professional inspection is simply an examination into the current condition of your subject property. It is not an appraisal or a Municipal Code inspection. An inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a building, but will simply describe its condition in an unbiased format and indicate which items will be in need of upgrading, repairs or replacement.
What If The Report Reveals Problems?
If the inspector finds problems in a building, it does not necessarily mean as a buyer you shouldn’t buy it, only that you will know in advance what type of repairs to anticipate. A seller if they have had a "listing inspection" may cost estimates that they can provide or be willing to make repairs because of significant problems discovered by the inspector. If your budget is tight, or if you do not wish to become involved in future repair work, you may decide that this is not the property for you. The choice is always yours.
If The Report Is Favorable, Did I Really Need An Inspection?
Definitely! Now you can complete your purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and its equipment and systems. You may have learned a few things about your property from the inspection report, and will want to keep that information for your future reference. Above all, as a buyer, you can rest assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision and that you will be able to enjoy or occupy your new home or building the way you want. As the seller, you can feel confident in that you have provided full disclosure.
Why Do I Need An Inspection?
The purchase of a home or commercial building is one of the largest single investments you will ever make. You should know exactly what to expect --- both indoors and out -- in terms of needed and future repairs and maintenance. A fresh coat of paint could be hiding serious structural problems. Stains on the ceiling may indicate a chronic roof leakage problem or may be simply the result of a single incident repaired in the past. The inspector interprets these and other clues, then presents a professional unbiased opinion as to the condition of the property so you can avoid unpleasant surprises afterward. Of course, an inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a building, as well as the type of maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and be able to make your decision confidently.
As a seller, if you have owned your building for a period of time, an inspection can identify potential problems in the sale of your building and can recommend preventive measures, which might avoid future expensive repairs or delays in closing of the sale.
Can I Inspect The Building Myself?
Even the most experienced building or homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional inspector who has inspected hundreds, and perhaps thousands of homes and buildings in their career. An inspector is equally familiar with the critical elements of construction and with the proper installation, maintenance and inter-relationships of these elements. Above all, most buyers and sellers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the building, and this may lead to a poor assessment.
What Will The Inspection Cost?
The inspection fee for a typical single-family house or commercial building varies geographically, as does the cost of housing, similarly, within a geographic area the inspection fees charged by different inspection services may vary depending upon the size of the building, particular features of the building, age, type of structure, etc. However, the cost should not be a factor in the decision whether or not to have a physical inspection. You might save many times the cost of the inspection because you now can make an educated decision and if you’re the seller, the cost of repair can be factored into the asking price based upon costs estimates you obtain. This also reduces the stress involved in re-negotiating based upon problems revealed by the inspector during a buyer’s inspection. Consult your professional agent for guidance.
Should I Attend The Inspection?
It is not required for you to be present for the inspection, but it is a good idea. By following the inspector through the inspection, observing and asking questions, you will learn about the building and get some tips on general maintenance. Information that will be of great help to both sides of the transaction long after the close of escrow.
How Do I Find A "Qualified" Inspector?
There are several ways of choosing an inspector; the best is by using the internet and going to either www.ASHI.org or www.CREIA.org. A personal contact, either from prior inspections or from a friend, relative, or business acquaintance that has had a recent inspection is an excellent method. Another alternative is to ask your real estate agent/broker who he or she would recommend. Most inspection services promote their business with brochures through the real estate offices. Many claim that their reports meet or follow the standards as recognized by the State of California. Do not be fooled; look for either the ASHI or CREIA emblem on their brochures and websites. Only inspectors who meet either ASHI’s or CREIA’s rigorous professional and educational requirements may qualify as members. Some associations qualify their inspectors by taking an "Online Test". Both ASHI and CREIA require their test to be taken at a "Proctored" site.
So Who or What Is ASHI or CREIA?
The American Society of Home Inspectors, (ASHI), or the California Real Estate Inspection Association, (CREIA), were established in 1976 as a non-profit voluntary professional association. Both associations have grown in strength since that time. Both ASHI and CREIA Standards of Practice and professional Code of Ethics provides the consumer with the assurance of quality and professionalism. Members throughout the state are recognized in California as the leading authority in the building inspection industry.
All members must abide by these standards and code of ethics. Both ASHI & CREIA offers its members and candidates continuing education in the latest building technology, training, and materials to ensure the most professional inspection for the consumer. Both ASHI & CREIA act as a public information service to real estate buyers and provides technical support and training to realty agents, state agencies and other related professions.
It’s Brand New...What Could be Wrong?
It is not good business to forego a home inspection on a newly constructed house, regardless of how conscientious and reputable your home builder.
No home, regardless of how well it is constructed, is totally free of defects. The construction of a house involves thousands of details, performed at the hands of scores of individuals. No general contractor can possibly oversee every one of these elements, and the very nature of human fallibility dictates that some mistakes and oversights will occur, even when the most talented and best-intentioned trades people are involved. It is also an unfortunate aspect of modern times that some builders/developers do not stand behind their workmanship and may not return to fix or replace defective components installed after the sale is complete.
The Municipal Code Inspector Already Approved It
Often the builder/developer will state the home has been built to "code" and that it was inspected at different stages and signed off by the local jurisdiction. However, building codes are frequently "minimum in nature" - that is, the primary intent of building regulations (codes) is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings. The builder is responsible to meet minimal standards at best - you may want higher standards applied to your dream house. Also, it is an unfortunate fact of the hectic pace of construction, that local building department inspectors are often overbooked with inspections, which results in their spending a minimal amount of time at the construction job site and important details may be overlooked. Finally, jurisdictional inspectors are not concerned with workmanship as long as all the systems and components in a new home meet minimum code requirements.
Peace of Mind
A professional in-progress inspection is a great value to a new construction homebuyer because the home inspector will spend whatever time it takes to evaluate every readily accessible parts of the home they can safely reach and then prepare an inspection report containing their findings. This, in turn, will provide a "fix-it" list that can be brought to the attention of the builder/developer. Additionally the homebuyer has peace of mind in knowing they took the extra step in protecting their investment by helping ensure they are made aware of any overlooked defects.
My Builder Says I Don’t Need a Home Inspection
It is important to let your builder know up front that you intend to have the work inspected by an independent third party construction expert. This will help set a tone with the builder and let them know that you expect things to be done properly. Ideally, you will want to start communication with your inspector as soon as you sign a contract with your builder. It is recommended that have a professional inspection of the foundation prior to the pour. A follow up inspection should be conducted after the foundation has set up.
Other Inspection Related Services
In addition to performing building inspections, many inspectors help with analysis and solutions to specific problems, such as foundations, energy conservation, and roofing problems. Professional inspectors are also frequently called upon to review restoration and home improvement plans as well as maintenance specifications, contracts and progress inspections for new construction to help ensure proper completion of contracted work. If you find that you are involved in a dispute regarding construction work performed on your building, an unbiased professional inspector can provide expert advice. Also, many ASHI or CREIA members inspect commercial and investment properties, multiple unit dwellings, condominiums, town homes, mobile homes and perform reserve studies as well.
Easing The Transaction For A Home Seller
Home sellers are being urged to utilize home inspections prior to listing their homes. Professional inspections can discover unknown conditions allowing sellers an opportunity to perform desired repairs before placing the property on the market. A professional "listing inspection" is just good business, it may facilitate a smoother transaction by putting potential buyers at ease, reducing negotiating points, and bypassing annoying delays.
Home Seller Disclosure Obligations
California case law states that it is the duty of a seller to disclose relevant facts concerning the property for sale through a TDS form. (Transfer Document Statement) This basically means a seller of one to four residential units has a legal obligation to disclose all of the conditions of the property know to them to perspective buyers, which is often accomplished through use of a "Transfer Disclosure Statement." While the listing inspection report cannot be used as a substitute for that disclosure, it does allow the seller to provide prospective buyers with additional information, based on an unbiased, third party, professional inspection.
Do I Have to Repair Everything Wrong With The House?
A listing inspection report is not intended to be a "do" or repair list for the home. Sellers are not obligated to repair conditions noted in the report, nor are they required to produce a flawless house. With a prelisting home inspection, potential repair items already known by both parties are subject to any negotiations. A home seller can make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation; to foster good will or to facilitate the sale. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract.
What Is A Listing Inspection?
An inspection consists of a non-invasive physical examination of a home’s systems, structures and components intended to identify material defects that exist at the time of inspection. The heating and cooling equipment is activated along with operating plumbing fixtures, testing accessible electrical outlets and fixtures, and operating a representative sampling of doors and windows. Visual inspection of the roof, walls and drainage adjacent to the home are included. Because of the wide range of construction practices and the "normal" wear and tear placed on the components of home, a professional home inspection can help provide a wealth of information to a home seller anxious to convey the condition of their home to perspective buyers.
Do I Really Need An Inspection?
As a seller, if you have owned your property for a period of time, an inspection can help identify potential problems and recommend preventive measures, which might avoid future expensive repairs. There is no such thing as a home that is too new or too well built to benefit from a professional inspection. Anyone advising against an inspection is doing a disservice to the homebuyer. Many problems frequently encountered after the buyer moves in, are a routine discovery for a qualified home inspection.
Is There Anything I Can Do Better To Maintain My Home?
Inspection reports often identify the same neglected maintenance items. Performing some basic maintenance can help keep your home in better condition, thus reduce the chance of those conditions showing up on the inspection report. Most of these items can be accomplished with little or no cost, while the benefits of selling a well maintained home can be worth the effort and increase your return on investment.
- Clean both rain gutters and any roof debris and trim back excessive foliage from the exterior siding.
- Divert all water away from the house (for example, rain-gutter downspouts, sump pump discharge locations, and clean out garage and basement interiors.
- Clean or replace all furnace filters.
- Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding (preferable 6-8 inches of clearance).
- Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around trim, chimneys, windows, doors, and all exterior wall penetrations.
- Make sure all windows and doors are in proper operating condition; replace cracked windowpanes.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Make sure all of the plumbing fixtures are in spotless condition (toilets, tubs, showers, sinks) and in proper working order (repair leaks).
- Provide clear access to both attic and foundation crawl spaces, heating/cooling systems, water heater/s, electrical main and distribution panels and remove the car/s from the garage.
- And finally, if the house is vacant make sure that all utilities are turned on. Should the water, gas or electric be off at the time of inspection the inspector will not turn them on. Therefore, the inspection process will be incomplete, which may possibly affect the time frame in removing sales contract contingencies.
Locating A Qualified Inspector
It is imperative that the seller secures the services of a qualified home inspector. Make sure to hire an inspector who is both trained and experienced in home inspection, maintains proper insurance, and is a member of a professional association such as ASHI or CREIA.
Home inspection is a relatively new profession in California and thus far not licensed by the state. At present, anyone can claim to be a home inspector. Therefore, you must exercise extreme care and cautious consideration before hiring just anyone. Select your home inspector with the following criteria in mind:
- Professional Affiliation: In California, there are standards for home inspectors that have been enacted by both ASHI and CREIA and are recognized in California statutes. Membership in these professional associations requires obtaining initial training, passing a rigorous membership exam, and mandatory adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing education (a minimum of 30 hours per year). When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in ASHI or CREIA.
- Inspection Experience. Of paramount importance is an inspector’s actual level of direct experience in the practice of home inspection. A general contractor’s license can be an important credential, but when it comes to home inspection, a license to build indicates very little as it relates to competence as a property inspector. The experience that matters most is specific home inspection training and experience, not building experience.
- Avoid Price Shopping. Home inspection fees vary widely. A home is the most expensive commodity you are likely to purchase and or sell in a lifetime. One defect missed by your inspector could cost 100 times what you save with a bargain inspection. The best method of price shopping is to shop for quality. Considering the high cost of real estate today, an inspection fee is a small price to pay. It can save thousands of dollars and years of regret.
Frequently Asked Questions-Thermal Imaging
What is Infrared Thermography?
Infrared Thermography is the acquisition, storage, and evaluation of radiated energy using an infrared imaging device. Different levels of this radiated energy from the scene viewed are displayed as different colors, or levels of grayscale, on a video monitor.
Do all objects emit infrared radiation?
Yes. All objects above absolute zero (-459F or -273C) emit invisible infrared radiation in the form of infrared rays. This radiation is a function of a number of different object characteristics, only one of which is temperature.
What minimum temperature is required to obtain an image on the viewer?
Approximately -35 degrees Celsius.
Is Infrared Thermography intrusive or destructive?
No. However, any coverings over electrical panels will need to be removed so that the components behind the panel can be viewed. Additionally, when a moisture source is discovered or suspected, it is confirmed with a moisture meter that utilizes two small probes about the size of a sewing pin or tack. If these holes are created in a waterproof barrier, they should be sealed with an appropriate caulk or other sealant after the verification of moisture. If moisture is found within a wall system further recommendation for repairs will be made and should only be made by licensed specialist familiar with local building ordinances and current construction techniques.
What systems and processes can benefit from Infrared Thermography?
Electrical systems, roofing systems, building envelopes, energy audits, blast furnaces, tank inspections, and mechanical systems are some of the most popular uses for Infrared Thermography today. However, other uses are being discovered all the time. Basically, if a temperature difference is created or can be created, there is a very good chance that infrared imaging can be of benefit.
Is Infrared Thermography safe?
Definitely, YES! The Infrared cameras are as safe as any everyday camera.
How will I know where the problem area is?
To assist in repairs by field personnel, a visible light photo is included alongside the infrared photo.
Why can’t I perform the same inspection with a regular camera with infrared film, or even with night vision goggles?
A regular film camera captures only reflected energy, which is what is visible to the human eye. For infrared film, a temperature of approximately 527F degrees (275C degrees) is required to produce an accurate image of emitted radiation. Any image produced on the infrared film from lower temperatures will be due to reflected energy rather than emitted energy. Night vision goggles actually give off infrared energy that is usually not visible to the unaided human eye. The energy is then reflected off the objects in the scene and is then visible to the night vision equipment.
When should an electrical inspection be performed?
The electrical inspection should be performed when the system is under load and, if subject to wind exposure, when winds are low or not present.
When should a roofing survey be performed?
A roofing survey should be performed only after the roof has had sufficient thermal loading, or after a thermal loading has been created. Also, the wind should be low and, of course, no rainfall. Additionally, there should be no standing water on the roof.
Can you provide a video of the inspection?
Yes. A video can be provided if needed. However this may require the acquisition of additional equipment and at additional costs.
Can you tell me the cause of the problem?
No. We are not a repair service, nor do we hold licenses or certifications in those the various specialties.
How often should the infrared inspection be performed?
This answer varies depending on the critical nature of the system or component being inspected. Systems that are very critical to your bottom line should probably be inspected more frequently. For example, plants, distribution centers, hospitals, etc. that have a large dependence on electricity, may want to perform the inspections either annually, or semi-annually. The same thing goes for buildings that may have a large amount of inventory or exposure to pedestrian traffic may want to have the roof covering inspected every 6 or 12 months.
How does it work?
The amount of heat generated by mechanical or electrical components is positively correlated to its failure. The more heat generated, the more likely the component is to fail. The bright side is that, with more heat, the level of infrared emission goes up thus allowing potential problem areas to be detected prior to catastrophic failure.
Is it necessary to shut down operations while the inspection is being performed?
No. The inspection should not interfere with any of your operations.
Can infrared imagers see through walls?
No. Infrared imagers cannot see through anything. They simply see only the very surface of items. However, due to varying masses within walls, under roofing materials, etc., different levels of heat across the surface tend to create images that may resemble an X-ray, giving the impression that you are seeing through things.
Can Infrared imagers see mold?
No. Infrared imagers cannot see or detect mold. They can, however, detect areas of moisture and since you can’t have mold without moisture, they are frequently used during the investigation for mold.