So...You want to buy a house?


By Sara W.Peterson

There are a whole series of inspections that can be made concerning a piece of property. A list of the mandatory ones normally paid for by the sellers are as follows:

  • Pest (Termite) The visible and accessible home structure is examined for evidence of pest damage. The report does not generally cover out-buildings or fences.
  • Mello-Roos Facilities This inquiry and resulting report indicate whether the property falls within a special taxation zone, along with the total amount due and payment structure of the zone.
  • Flood Hazard Area (Federal) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designates nationwide Flood Hazard Areas. The report tells if the property falls within a federally designated Flood Hazard Area.
  • Flood & Inundation Hazards (Local) Localities are required to map areas known to have water hazards as part of planning. This report determines whether or not a property is located in a locally designated flood and inundation hazards.
  • Alquist-Priolo Special Studies Zones The Act was enacted in 1972 to ensure that structures are not built over active earthquake fault traces. The report determines if the property is located in a special Studies Zone.
  • Seismic Hazard Zone Rating The rating is a locally designated hazard area mapped as part of planning. The report determines if the property falls within a seismic hazard zone.
  • Liquefication Susceptibility Susceptibility to liquefaction is another geologic hazard that localities are required to map as part of planning. This report determines whether or not the property is located in an area where ground liquefaction is a possibility.
  • Landslide / Mudslide / Rockslide Another planning requirement is the mapping of Landslide / Mudslide / Rockslide hazards. This report determines if the property is located in an area known to have these types of hazards.
  • Soil Stability A report that defines whether the land is subject to strong ground shaking or other ground failures.
  • State Fire Responsibility In a State Fire Responsibility Area, the state has the primary financial responsibility for fire prevention, not local or federal governments. These areas may require property owners to assume additional duties, such as maintaining fire breaks, or brush clearance. In addition, the state may not necessarily provide fire protection services to the area. The report tells if the property falls within this classification.

A partial list of the optional inspections that you may have done (paid for by you, or negotiated with the sellers) normally includes:

  • Home Inspection This inspection checks the operational functionality of the various household mechanical systems (appliances, HVAC, electrical. It is limited to visible and accessible portions of the home and may or may not include such items as pools, spas, gutters or chimney as part of the standard inspection.
  • Structural Engineering Dependent upon visual inspection and recommendation by the Home Inspector.
  • CHEERS (California Home Energy Efficiency Rating System) As necessary dependent upon the age of the home or observed structural obsolescence.
  • Air Quality Primarily used to assess the risk of Asbestos contamination in the neighborhood. This is very important to those looking in the foothills where there are exposed serpentine rock outcroppings, high construction activity or surface mining.
  • Radon Normally only if a basement is present in a high energy efficient home.
  • Lead Paint Used to determine if a Lead Paint Hazard actually exists in an older home and whether abatement is a reasonable solution.
  • Fire Hazards (Local)
  • Building Permits (Structures) Used to determine if any additions and modifications to the property were completed legally and meet zoning and habitability codes.
  • Roof Inspection and Certification Used to ascertain the condition of an older roof or to insure that completed repairs will have a warrantee from the roofer..
  • Proximity to Environmental Hazard Used to determine how close to currently operating, or closed facilities and the severity, i.e. Super Fund Site.
  • Proximiity to High-Tension Power Lines Although the most recent comprehensive studies do not appear to support a link between EMF radiation and health, this will locate both overhead and underground transmission lines.
  • Proximity to Freeways The current locations as well as planned Freeways.
  • Proximity to Airports The current locations as well as planned Airports.
  • Proximity to Railways The current locations as well as planned Railways.
  • Zoning Designations Used to determine current status and suitability for other purposes.
  • Sewer Connection Permits
  • Septic Tank Permits
  • Violation On Record Used to identify if code (structure or health) violations exist, especially for income property.
  • Authorized Legal Uses The current zoning and occupancy regulations are examined to determine if the present or projected uses are permitted under the law.
  • Parking Requirements Primarily for commercial operations, but may be important where dual-use or investment property is concerned.

Additionally, if the property has a well or septic system, as part of the loan approval process they are inspected and certified to meet minimum health requirements. These are normally paid for by the sellers.

Our Recommendations for Resale Homes: The ones that we recommend automatically are a Home Inspection and an Energy Evaluation.

After considerable research on our part and an extended history of using them for our transactions, we have settled on a group of providers that have earned our faith and trust to hold your interests at their hearts. We will be happy to refer you to them. Our association with these professionals since we started working with them has been nothing but a joy. There has not been one customer complaint for any of their work. However, the past experience upon which this is based isn't a guarantee of future performance, either explicit or implied that their service will continue to meet the same high levels in the future. You are encouraged to contact several vendors for each service that you need and choose the vendor that best meets your needs and price. Besides those on our list, the "Yellow Pages" and professional associations, amongst many others, are excellent sources for the names of potential service providers.

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