Home inspections

In the home inspection process I use a team of inspectors headed by a general contractor in the business of home inspections - a Home Inspector. The team should include a Structural Pest Control Operator, and might include a masonry contractor (mainly for pre Loma Prieta masonry chimneys), a Structural Engineer, an underground storage tank inspector (for San Francisco), etc. - depending upon the circumstances.

In the San Francisco Bay Area there are many inspections that may be appropriate, depending upon the physical structure(s), the geology, the topography. For example:

* general contractor
* masonry contractor
* structural pest control operator
* swimming pool, spa
* underground storage tank
* roofing contractor
* electrical contractor
* plumbing contractor
* soils engineer, geotechnical
* structural engineer
* environmental hazards: asbestos, lead, EMF, radon, toxic mold
* arborist
* architect
* landscape architect


Section 7048 of the Business and Professions Code provides a $500.00 ceiling on labor/supplies furnished by someone who is not licensed as a contractor - the so-called Handyman's Exemption. All others must be licensed.

The California State Contractors License Board oversees over forty specialty license classifications in addition to general building contractor, including landscaping contractors, masonry contractors, roofing contractors, etc; and three Certifications - Home Improvements, Asbestos [only bidding], and, Hazardous Substance [other than asbestos] Removal. See, Lead/Asbestos, below.

With the contractor's license number in hand you can call the License Board's automated system at 800-321-2752 to learn whether the license is current and active. Or, if you do not have the license number, or if you prefer a virtual search, go to the Contractor's State License Board website and stroll down to "License Status Check".

It is a sign of professional pride if the contractor voluntarily belongs either to the American Society of Home Inspectors [ASHI] or to the California Real Estate Inspection Association [CREIA]. Indeed, in Senate Bill 258 the California Legislature indicated its intent that "in ascertaining the degree of care that would be exercised by a reasonably prudent home inspector pursuant to Section 7196 of the Business and Professions Code, the court may consider the standards of practice and code of ethics of the California Real Estate Inspection Association, the American Society of Home Inspectors, or other nationally recognized professional home inspection associations."

There is a virtual tour of home inspections on the ASHI site. Rather basic, but useful as an overview of the systems covered by this type of home inspector.

The law governing Home Inspectors in California is located at Sections 7195-7199 of the Business and Professions Code. Home Inspectors need not be licensed contractors. And, whether or not they are licensed, Home Inspectors and their firms may not perform repairs on any home for which a report has been issued, for twelve months. CREIA, above, has a similar prohibition, with no time limitation.

For lighthearted reading on the subject take a look at the Home Detective site.


The other important member of your inspection team should be the Structural Pest Control Operator. This individual is licensed by the Structural Pest Control Board to provide consumers with reports indicating infestation or infection by wood destroying pests and organisms: such as termites, beetles, fungus and wood rot. The Operator must provide an itemized guaranteed bid to remove ALL such conditions. The parties negotiate responsibility for payment; and payment is customarily made through escrow.

With the Operator's license number in hand, call 1-800-737-8188 during standard business hours to confirm that the license is in good standing.


The Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors regulates the practice of professional engineers and professional land surveyors. For instructions on verifying the status of licensees, as well as the many classifications of engineers, follow this LINK

There is still another board regulating geologists and geophysicists: the Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists.


As indicated above, the State Contractors License Board administers the certification for contractors working with asbestos. But this only allows the licensee to bid the job. If the licensee wants to be able to remove asbestos, then he/she must receive a registration from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The Asbestos Contractors Registration Unit (ACRU) registers contractors and other employers who perform asbestos-related work. Such work must involve 100 sq. ft. or more of asbestos-containing construction materials that have an asbestos content of more than 0.1%.The Division maintains a LIST of registrants.

Last but not least, Errors & Omission insurance. This protects you should you purchase the home and sustain monetary damage as a result of the inspector's negligence. Confirm that your contractor or engineer carries such insurance coverage. This is NOT the same thing as the bond that the Licensing Board requires as a condition of licensing.

Copyright ©1996 through current year, Leopold A Rodriguez
All Rights Reserved