The first thing we should note is that a home inspector is not an expert in any one trade with regards to home building. They are more generalists than specialists. Much like a general practitioning doctor would recommend a patient to a cardiologist if they suspected heart related issues during a regular checkup, a home inspector will recommend the home buyer to the appropropriate professional (roofer, electrician, etc.) if they notice issues during the inspection that might want to be further investigated. Of course, having these experts come out will be solely at the expense and discretion of the home buyer.
After a home inspection is completed, a reputable inspector will provide the buyer with a detailed report that includes pictures and outlines the general condition of all systems associated with the property. The home inspector should be available to answer any questions home buyers have about the report. They may or may not be able to give answers to some questions for liability reasons. Answers to questions like "Is this a big deal?," "Do you think I should buy it?" or "What would you do?" are subjective and most inspectors will avoid answering these out of fear of being sued. They will be much more likely to answer questions that can be answered with factual and objective information. For instance, you may be more likely to get away asking things like "How many houses have you seen this in?", "Is this common in this age house?", or "What are the imminent dangers associated with this?"
We highly recommend that buyers are present at the home inspection to go over any areas of concern with the home inspector. It is not a good idea to shadow or follow the home inspector around for the duration, rather, a concerned buyer should arrive toward the end of the inspection and review the issues when the inspector has completed the inspection. If accesible, the inspector may be able to point out the issues in person so a home buyer has a solid understanding of the situation.
Items that could be considered "normal" to find vary with property type, location, and age. In other words, there really is no "normal." Contact us if you'd like to see some report samples from homes that have been recently purchased. These are by no means what you should or shouldn't accept as ok for your home, they are merely shown to demonstrate what an inspection report will probably look like on most real estate in Southern California.
Every once in a while, we see an issue come up during the inspection that will be considered very serious in nature. Issues such as mold, unstable foundations, geological instability, lack of structural integrity, and other things might be such big events that buyers choose to back away from the home altogether. We will go over this in detail in our next article regarding the negotiating of home repairs in escrow.
The cost of a home inspector varies but typically they will range from $300-$400 depending on size, type, and age of the home. Expect to pay more, sometimes almost double, for an inspection on a duplex or property with multiple units. Feel free to contact us with any questions or for a recommendation to a good home inspector in Orange or Los Angeles County.