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Benefits of Home Inspection in California

Updated: May 4, 2022

As a first-time buyer, you might find the California home purchasing process challenging. This includes learning the benefits of home inspection in California.

This article will help you.

Benefits of Home Inspection in California


  • Home inspections are not required in California

  • But mortgage lenders require home inspections before loan approval;

  • Explanation of FHA home inspection process;

  • California does not certify or license home inspectors, but does prohibit unethical practices;

  • A home inspector looks at the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems for defects;

  • View a description of everything a home inspector looks at; and

  • Learn the importance of a home inspection contingency clause.

Are Home Inspections Required in California?

Surprisingly, California does not require a home inspection during the purchase process. The NY Times points out that most states do not require a home inspection for buyers.

If you are buying a home with all cash or using private funding, a home inspection may not occur. Yet, read about the home mortgage required inspection below.

However, know that a home inspection is highly recommended by our realty and experts. Why?

A home inspection gives you valuable information about the home’s condition to help you decide if you want to complete the purchase.

Mortgage Lenders Require Home Inspections

While California doesn’t require a home inspection, nationwide mortgage lenders do. That’s because they need to protect their investment in the home.

Before qualifying a home for a mortgage (home purchase loan) lenders hire a home inspector to inspect the home. Once the home inspection passes, the purchase and mortgage process proceeds.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home mortgage loan programs require full home inspections.

What is a Home Inspection in California?

The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) defines a home inspection as:

In layperson’s terms, this means that a home inspector will examine all the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems for defects. This includes the:

  • Heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems;

  • Electrical panels and wiring systems; the

  • Furnace;

  • The sinks, toilets, and tubs/showers are working; and the

  • Water heater.

A “material defect” means a condition affecting the desirability, habitation, safety, or value of the home.

When you preview a home or visit an open house you don’t get the opportunity to fully inspect these components. That’s why you need a home inspection.

Can Anyone Provide Home Inspection Services in California?

While California does not certify or license home inspectors, they are regulated under the California Trade Practice Act. This law prohibits “unethical home inspection practices”.

We recommend that you find a qualified home inspector trained in these functions to crawl through the house looking for defects with:

  • Electrical;

  • HVAC;

  • Plumbing;

  • Roof; and

  • Structures.

Your home inspector should follow the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) standards. These include their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics designed to protect the public.

How the Home Inspection Occurs in California

Home Inspections Required, how inspections occur, california

If your home inspector shows up wearing a suit and tie you should worry. That’s because a home inspector needs to crawl around the house from the top (roof and attic) to the bottom (basement or cellar).

Here are the essential aspects of a typical home inspection

Roof and Chimneys: Your inspector views the roof’s peak to see if level and straight. Shingles or tiles showing any signs of deterioration. Inspecting the roof’s vents. Looking for loose flashing near the chimneys. Inspect the chimneys’ bricks and mortar to see if any are missing or flaking.

Downspouts, Gutters, Fascia, and Soffits: Inspect the soffit and fascia materials to see if any sections are missing or loose. Inspect the gutters to make sure they slope downward and towards the downspouts. Ensure the gutters and downspouts do not leak.

Decks and Porches: Looking for rotting wood, flaking or cracked masonry, or paint problems. Observe if any settlement or separation from the house occurs.

Doors, Walls, and Windows: Check the doors close properly. See if the walls are straight. Observe signs of water leakage stains. Inspecting windows for paint, caulking, or rotting wood problems.

Basement, Foundation, and Floors: Inspecting the basement for signs of water penetration. Examining floors for stained wood, cracked tile coverings, or any decay, sloping, or sagging. Inspect the foundation for signs of bowing, bulging, or irregularities.

Ceilings: Observing cracked, loose, or sagging plaster. Looking for any stains indicating water leakage.

Kitchens and Bathrooms: Ensure all fixtures are secure. Caulking and tiles in the bathtub and showers are not cracked. Adequate faucets water pressure. Looking for signs of water staining or rotting.

Electricity and Mechanical Systems: Observing the style, type, and age of the cooling and heating systems. Verifying the last inspection dates. Looking for signs of rust or corrosion. Inspect the electrical system for age and if wires are properly grounded. Making notes about the safety or necessity for upgrading any wiring systems.

Safety: Examining stairways, railings, and steps for safety. Noting need for repairs. Counting the number of smoke alarms, placement, and if functioning correctly.

Additional FHA Home Inspection Process

Besides what a California home inspection involves, the FHA requires additional inspections.

Mechanical Systems: The FHA requires the inspector to make sure no loose, exposed, or frayed wiring exists. Testing each electrical outlet and switch to ensure working properly. Turning on the heating system to observe any inadequate functions. Check that the hot water plumbing meets Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards. All toilets, bathtubs, and showers function properly.

Water Drainage: Inspectors assure that the lot grading drains water away from the home with no standing water around the structure.

Additional Items: Inspect the swimming pool verifying the water is clear and safe and the pump works. Look for rodent infestation anywhere on the property. Observe any missing doors or stairs and they function correctly. Inspect any wells or septic systems for proper functioning.

Repairs: Verify if any repairs are needed for the structure, standing water around the home, defective paint surfaces, and faulty mechanical systems. Repairs must occur before loan approval.

Importance of a Home Inspection Contingency

Every California home sale and purchase agreement must include a home inspection contingency to protect the buyer.

A home inspection contingency in your contract with the seller protects you if any significant defects are found.

What options exist for you when the inspection shows problems with the home? You have two options:

Large or small problems lets you ask the seller to fix them, reduce your purchase price, or get cash credit at the closing to fix the problems after you become the owner; or

If the problems are too large or expensive to fix, you can walk away and get your Earnest Money Deposit EMD back.

Benefits of Home Inspection in California – Conclusion

There are many benefits of home inspection in California. The most important include close inspections of the:

  • Electrical system;

  • Plumbing systems;

  • Mechanical systems;

  • Roof and chimney conditions; and

  • Structural condition.

The importance of including an inspection contingency in your home purchase contract are:

  • The ability to walk away from the purchase and get a refund of your earnest money deposit; or

  • Making the seller repair all the problems before the closing; or

  • Reduce your purchase price so you can fix the problems after the closing; or

  • Get cash credit from the seller at the closing to make the fixes after the closing.

Need a Realtor to Find Your Dream Home in San Diego?

SoCal Lifestyle Realty not only publishes useful blog posts for home buyers. We provide experienced Realtors to help you sort through hundreds of listed homes to find the ideal home for you and your family in San Diego County.

Contact us to learn more about the home buying process in the greater San Diego area and help get through the entire process after finding your dream home.

Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger

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