There are many things to consider when buying a home. 

One of the most important is making sure that the property is in good condition. This is where a home inspector comes in. They will look at the property and note any problems, whether major or minor. However, there are some things that a home inspector cannot do.

Common questions we hear from clients include:

  • Can a home inspector condemn a house in California?
  • Can a home inspector condemn a house for sale?
  • Can a home inspector condemn a house for purchase?

Let’s explore the answer to these questions and learn more about what rights and powers home inspectors have.

Can a Home Inspector Condemn a House?

The short answer is no, a home inspector cannot condemn a house. That authority rests with the city or county in which the property is located. The home inspector can, however, make recommendations as to whether or not the property is habitable. 

For example, if there are major structural issues, the home inspector may recommend that the buyer get a structural engineer to assess the damage and provide a report.

What Are Home Inspectors Not Allowed to Do?

Home inspectors have specific duties and privileges, but there are many tasks that they aren’t empowered to complete. Below are a few examples.

1. Enforce Building Codes

Home inspectors are familiar with the current building codes. However, they are not responsible for enforcing them. This authority to enforce the building code rests with the local officials who are employed to do so.

However, building code enforcement officers only inspect residential homes if it is new construction, an ongoing renovation project, or a complaint has been filed about the living conditions. Keep this in mind if you are buying an older home that may not meet current building code standards.

While home inspectors can’t condemn a house, they can point out any areas with defects and these defects may not meet current building code requirements. This information can be helpful if you are planning to make any changes or repairs to the property.

2. Determine the Value of a Home

Home inspectors are not appraisers, so they cannot tell you what a home is worth. That’s the job of a professional real estate appraiser. An appraiser will visit the property and compare it to similar homes that have recently sold in the area to determine its value.

The value of a home is based on many factors, including the location, the overall condition of the property, and current state of the real estate market. If you are thinking about buying a home, it’s a good idea to have an appraisal done before making an offer.

3. Repair a Home

Your home inspector is not a contractor and cannot make repairs to your home. In some states, it is against the law for a home inspector to repair any defects that are found during an inspection, the California Real Estate Inspection Association explains.

If your home inspector finds any problems with the property, they will likely recommend that you have the repairs done by a licensed contractor. You may be able to negotiate with the seller to have the repairs done before you close on the property.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to complete a pre-listing inspection. This will allow you to make any necessary repairs before putting your home on the market.

4. Speak to a Home’s Insurability

Home inspectors do not have the authority to determine a home’s insurability. However, they can provide information that will be used by an insurance company to make their decision.

For example, a home inspector can complete a four-point inspection, which is often required by insurance companies when they are determining insurability.

The bottom line is that the decision of whether or not a home is insurable rests with the underwriter at the insurance company, not the home inspector.

If you are concerned about whether or not your home will be insurable, you should speak to an insurance agent. 

Schedule your next home inspection

A home inspection is an important step in the home buying process. It can give you peace of mind knowing that your new home is in good condition. If you’re a seller, a home inspection can give you an idea of what repairs may need to be made before putting your home on the market.

Home inspectors are trained to look for defects in homes that could lead to safety hazards or costly repairs. While they are not allowed to condemn a house, they can point out potential problems that should be addressed.

If you have any questions about what a home inspector can and cannot do, please contact us. You can also schedule your next home inspection with us today!