Homebuyer tips: Top things to look for in a home inspection

final walk-through

Once your offer on a home has been accepted, it’s time to have a licensed home inspector give the property a close look. You should tag along on the inspection, notebook in hand, as you’re bound to learn more about the property—such as how to change the furnace filter.

Also, you’ll see for yourself whatever issues the inspector might raise. That can be helpful if the inspector finds some costly problems, as you’ll want to understand how to address them once you become the homeowner.

Here’s a quick guide to some things to look for in a home inspection.

* Roof. Find out how old the roof is. A new roof today should last 15-20 years. Also, are there areas that are currently causing leaks or might cause them in the future?

* Furnace. A furnace typically lasts about 20 years. Again, find out how old the current furnace is. Make sure the filter’s clean and the furnace is energy efficient.

* Plumbing. Galvanized pipes (often found in older homes) collect calcium deposits, which can negatively affect water pressure. Find out what kind of pipes the property has (copper is the standard now), and check hot and cold water pressure throughout the home.

* Electrical. Make sure the property has plenty of juice coming in to power your computers, flat screen TVs, and such. Look for 100 amps or more.

* Hot water heater. Most models last 10-15 years, so find out the age. Also, is it energy efficient? How many gallons is the tank?

* Foundation. Ideally, in the Bay Area, you’ll want a concrete perimeter foundation with anchor bolts or some kind of seismic upgrading.

Ask your real estate agent to recommend a licensed home inspector. Expect to pay between $300 and $1,000, depending on the size and type of property. Ask for a print copy of the report as well as an electronic version. Most inspectors will give you a PDF of the report, which you can quickly search using keywords if needed.

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