CA Bus. & Prof. Code Sect. 7191(a)(1) – What is a home inspection?
According to section 7191, A home inspector who performs a home inspection includes evaluations of a home’s systems and structures. Inspections must be completed in person, and they are done by home inspectors in exchange for fees. An inspector may look at the home’s plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems. He or she might also look at the home’s structure. The goal of getting home inspections is to uncover any material defects of homes.
It’s worth noting that many home inspectors march to their own beat. Because California does not have any standards, no state licenses or state certifications its essentially a free-for-all. Which it to say, anyone can be a home inspector. Not any two home inspectors in California work the same, test the same, know the same, report on the same. This is important when you are choosing between home inspectors.
Homes with pools or spas
If a home that is for sale has a swimming pool or spa, the home inspector must also look at the pool or spa to make certain that it has all of the required safety features to prevent people from drowning. These might include fences of certain heights, gates, and others.
When clients ask for inspections of energy efficiency
If a client asks the inspector to do so, he or she may also examine the home’s energy efficiency. An energy efficiency inspection may include looking at the R-values of insulation contained in the attic, walls, floors, and elsewhere in the home.
Other items that might be included are whether the windows are single-, double-, or triple paned and what their frames are made from. An energy efficiency inspection may also include an examination of HVAC systems, water heaters, major appliances, exhaust fans, and thermostats. Finally, the inspector might check for areas that allow energy and air leaks.
What are material defects?
A material defect as something that negatively and substantially impacts the home’s livability, safety, or value. It does not include something that is simply out of style or unattractive.
Reports of home inspections
After an inspection, the home inspector will write a report. This report will identify everything that was inspected and any material defects that were found. The report may also include recommendations about how the defects should be handled. If the defect is a safety problem with a pool, the report will tell what must be done to bring it into compliance.
Inspectors who do not have certain licenses
Sect. 7196, 7196.1
Home inspectors who do not have general contractor, architectural, or structural pest control licenses and who are not registered engineers are expected to complete home inspections in the same manner as other home inspectors would be expected to do. Home inspectors who are not engineers are not allowed to perform analyses that would amount to practicing mechanical, electrical, or civil engineering. However, sellers and licensees still have the same obligations and duties regardless of the home inspectors’ license statuses.
There are a number of things that home inspectors and their employers can’t do, including the following:
- Charge a fee to make repairs to a home that the inspector examined within the last year;
- Charge money to inspect a home in which the home inspector or the inspector’s employer has a financial interest;
- Offer money to owners, agents, or brokers for business referrals; and
- Agree to make the inspection fee contingent on the conclusions or the close of escrow.
Exceptions to prohibitions
There are a couple of exceptions to this list, however. Pest control operators are allowed to repair homes that have structural defects because of pests such as termites. Home protection companies that have contracts will not violate the law by making repairs because of claims that are made according to the contracts.
Licensed roofing contractors can repair the roof after a contractor inspects it as long as different people do the inspection of the roof and the home. The roof inspection must either be ordered before or simultaneously as the home inspection, or it must be finished before the home is inspected. The homebuyer or seller must be given a disclosure prior to the inspection that explains that the same company will perform both inspections. The consumer must also be told that if he or she authorizes roof repairs, they must be identified in the roof inspection report and not in the home inspection report. Finally, the disclosure must tell the consumer that he or she has the right to get a second opinion.
A licensed roofing contractor may certify that the roof has been inspected. The certification may also list any repairs that were made and will include a warranty that the roof is leak-free when it was certified.
Invalid waivers and statute of limitations
If there are statements in a contract that include duty waivers or that limit the home inspector’s liability to the amount that was charged for the home inspection, they are invalid. This means that those provisions will be unenforceable as a matter of public policy. There is a four-year statute of limitations after the inspection for any breach of contract lawsuit. This means that a lawsuit cannot be filed for alleged contract breaches if four or more years have passed from when the home was inspected.
A duty in the law is a legal responsibility that people owe to others. In the case of home inspectors, they have the duty to inspect homes in the same way that other reasonable home inspectors would. In 7198-7199, a provision in a contract that states that the home inspector will not have that duty of care is considered to be invalid, which means it could not be enforced in court or used as a defense in a legal action against the inspector.
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