Property inspections are important

By:
Eric Castongia
Broker Associate

Most of the properties for sale in San Francisco are not new.  With such a large purchase, it is not recommended to buy a property without inspections, even if the property is new.  I feel this is important because an inspector takes an unemotional look at a property and can give you an idea of conditions to watch for that, if they aren’t issues now, could become so in the future.

The most common inspections I recommend are outlined below.  Other inspections may be warranted based on the findings of these primary inspections and on the disclosures provided by the seller. Other inspections may include roofers, furnace contractors, chimney and fireplace maintenance, sewer inspectors, hazardous substance experts, mold inspectors and structural, or soils engineers to name a few.

For my buyers, I provide a few documents to help you select inspectors, such as the Buyers Inspection Advisory, and Zephyr Real Estate Recommendation Regarding Inspections, that highlight the many types of inspections available to you to give you the opportunity to select additional inspections which may be prudent.

You should plan to attend all inspections so that you can see for yourself any problems that might surface.  Your attendance also makes review of written reports much more comprehensive and easier to understand.

The costs of inspections are paid by the buyer.  Inspections usually are conducted in the first 10-15 calendar days of the escrow period. I can provide you referrals, schedule inspections and provide you with average inspections costs.

Structural Pest Control Inspection-A licensed structural pest inspector will examine the property for any evidence of problems such as: termites, dry rot, earth to wood contact, excessive dampness, fungus damage and beetle infestation.  The inspector will provide to you a written report identifying any problems, along with a bid for any corrective work.  This is a critical inspection because this type of damage can be very costly to repair and may require immediate attention. The cost of correcting pest control work is sometimes negotiable.

General Contractor’s Inspection-Among other things, this inspection covers major systems, structural elements, safety features, and code compliance.  Good inspectors will take the time to give you an orientation to the building, including how to operate and care for the furnace, where you will find the shutoff valves for the gas and water lines and where to go if you blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker.  Accompanying the contractor during the inspection gives you the opportunity to ask questions and to get valuable maintenance tips.  The general contractor’s report will alert you to possible problems but, unlike the structural pest control report, will not include price estimates for any needed corrections.

Underground Storage Tank Inspection-The City of San Francisco requires an owner of real property to make a reasonable effort to locate and remove abandoned underground storage tanks (UST), as they may contain hazardous or environmental waste. Because the owner of record of a piece of property is responsible for any tank found on the property, I strongly recommend you ask a contractor specializing in locating such tanks to inspect your property to avoid your inheriting a tank already on the premises. The contractor will provide an estimate to remove a UST if found, which can be expensive.