The California Association of Real Estate Inspectors describes the home inspection as " ...an independent, unbiased review and report on a home's systems, components and conditions."
In California, home buyers are drilled and grilled about having a home inspection when they enter into contract. The purchase contract contains two full pages called the "Buyers Inspection Advisory." Most home buyers are clueless about what the home inspection and how to choose a home inspector. Understanding the home inspection report and deciphering which defects are important and which are not is important.
Normally, in California, a termite inspection will be performed on behalf of the seller. This is a separate inspection done by a licensed pest control professional. The termite work is negotiated in the contract by usually designating Section 1 items to be paid by the seller and Section 2 items to be paid at the discretion of the buyer.
The home inspection does NOT include areas of expertise such as Asbestos, Radon, Methane, Radiation and Formaldehyde, Mold, Mildew and Fungi, Rodents and Lead. These areas require special licensing, therefore, a special and separate inspection by a licensed inspector in that special area of expertise. If a general home inspector suspects findings in any of these serious areas, he/she will suggest that you order another inspection by the specialized inspector.
A thorough home inspection will cover areas such as: Foundation, basement, and under-floor areas, exterior, roof covering, roof framing, attic, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, fireplaces and chimneys, and the interior of the home covering areas such as walls, ceilings, and floors, doors and windows, stairways, handrails, and guardrails, permanently installed cabinets, permanently installed cook-tops, mechanical range vents, ovens, dishwashers, and food waste disposers. absence of smoke alarms, and vehicle doors and openers.
The important items you need to pay attention to are health and safety issues, roofs with a short life expectancy, furnace / A/C malfunctions, foundation deficiencies and moisture / drainage issues.
A home inspection is imperative when buying a home. Finding a good, qualified and experienced inspector is also very important. A good resource in finding a qualified home inspector is the California Association of Real Estate Inspectors.