Navigating the Home Inspection Procedure in Phoenix, AZ

Embarking on a home purchase journey? Unsure about what aspects to consider during the home inspection process in Phoenix, AZ? This comprehensive article serves as your guide, equipping buyers with insights into what to anticipate from their home inspector and which crucial questions to pose. Discover the significance of your inspector selection and delve into the realm of varied inspections buyers should contemplate in Arizona. Explore further about home inspections in the Phoenix metropolitan area and gain invaluable knowledge to navigate your real estate endeavors.

1. The Inspection Period in Arizona's Purchase Contract: A Closer Look

In Arizona's real estate landscape, the inspection period within the purchase contract offers buyers a designated timeframe to conduct essential evaluations. Predominantly observed in the Phoenix metropolitan area, buyers frequently prioritize home and termite inspections.

Should the initial home inspection yield positive results, some buyers forgo further assessments. Nevertheless, it's imperative to ascertain the extent of your chosen home inspector's scrutiny. Variances exist—some inspectors might exclude attic inspections, omit pool evaluations, or partialize roof assessments. Commonly, buyers also consider roof and pool equipment inspections. Subsequent to the inspection, the home inspector might recommend deeper evaluation of HVAC systems in cases of operational uncertainties.

When electrical or plumbing anomalies arise, the inspector could advocate for in-depth assessments by licensed professionals. Worth noting, the buyer is financially responsible for all inspections, including potential additional ones. Furthermore, coordinating extra inspections falls under the buyer's purview.

2. It is Advisable to Review the Seller Disclosure Statement (SPDS) Before the Inspection!

In Arizona, adherence to the Seller Home Disclosure is mandatory for sellers. This crucial document elucidates the seller's awareness regarding the property's history. Pertinent details span various facets, encompassing prior plumbing or electrical concerns, the age of HVAC systems and water heaters, and any past building expansions with or without permits. Furthermore, this disclosure delves into roof-related matters, including repairs, issues, or replacements.

This disclosure holds significance as it must be furnished to the buyer within 5 days following an accepted purchase agreement. Buyers are advised to meticulously review this report, as it might uncover areas warranting deeper inspection by a professional home inspector. In some cases, I find it valuable to share this report with the home inspector, providing insight into historical issues that warrant closer assessment.

3. Is a House Inspection Mandatory When Purchasing a Property?

Although not a compulsory step, a home inspection holds significant value when purchasing a house. This professional assessment offers a thorough examination by an expert, beyond what a buyer can visually appraise in accessible areas.

In Arizona, state-licensed home inspectors undergo rigorous training, providing buyers with insights into safety and code-related concerns. While buyers typically wouldn't venture into attics or onto roofs for inspections, home inspectors delve deeper. They evaluate factors like electrical outlets, employing tools that aren't readily accessible to most buyers.

Considering the substantial investment in a home purchase, engaging a licensed home inspector becomes a prudent choice. These inspections often extend to features such as yard sprinkler systems, air conditioning units, and pool equipment—areas beyond the reach of typical consumers.

4. Is a home inspection mandatory when obtaining an FHA loan?

Once more, home inspections aren't usually obligatory; nevertheless, seeking professional property assessment prior to purchase is a sensible approach. This avenue also empowers buyers to request sellers to address significant issues unearthed during the inspection. Cosmetic concerns, evident to the buyer, aren't the focus of the inspector's scrutiny. Their focus lies in delving beyond the surface to evaluate the structural integrity and safety aspects of the house. Some lenders may also require a home inspection to ensure the condition of the property they are lending on. 

5. What Repairs Are Obligatory Following a Home Inspection?

In Arizona, obligatory repairs do not exist, and properties are typically sold in their current 'as-is' condition. However, there are instances when specific repairs might be deemed necessary by an appraiser. This situation commonly arises with FHA or VA loans, especially if there are visible roof concerns from ground level. Additionally, an appraiser might stipulate the need to paint exposed wood areas to deter termite attraction.

6. Who is Responsible for Covering Repairs Following a Home Inspection?

A buyer is afforded the opportunity to conduct a home inspection and subsequently request the seller to undertake repairs. The seller has the choice to either accept all the requested repairs, decline all repairs, or select certain repairs to address. If the seller opts not to perform the requested repairs, the buyer retains the right to terminate the contract.

In some cases, the seller might opt out of making repairs but offer to credit a specific dollar amount to the buyer for post-sale repairs. This arrangement can be advantageous for the seller as it negates the need to coordinate repair personnel. This approach is often favored when the seller resides out of state or struggles to secure repair vendors and schedules.

For the buyer, this arrangement grants flexibility. They can either personally address the repairs or engage their preferred vendor for the task.

7. Is the seller obligated to address all issues raised during a home inspection?

The majority of sellers are open to addressing reasonable repair requests. Typically, buyers focus on requesting repairs that pertain to safety and the overall integrity of the property. Urgent repairs that could potentially cause damage to the house before the closing, like water leaks, are often prioritized by buyers. Sellers generally aim to prevent contract cancellations due to minor concerns. Additionally, it's important to note that issues identified in one home inspection are likely to reappear in subsequent inspections.

8. What is the Timeframe for a Buyer to Conclude a Home Inspection?

As per the Arizona purchase contract, there exists a 10-day window during which the buyer can carry out necessary home inspections. This timeframe can be adjusted if the 10-day period is unsuitable for the buyer's needs; the contract offers flexibility for the buyer to select a different duration. In scenarios where both the buyer and seller are seeking a swift closing, they might mutually agree to a briefer inspection period.

Should either party find the 10-day period challenging post-contract signing, they have the option to collaboratively amend the inspection timeline through an addendum to the original purchase contract. The 10-day countdown commences the day following full contract execution. If an extension is required, the inspection period can often be prolonged using an addendum. It's imperative to fulfill any inspections within the agreed-upon timeframe.

To ensure a timely process, it's advisable to schedule the inspection promptly after the acceptance of the purchase contract. Subsequent inspections might be suggested by the home inspector based on the initial assessment, potentially covering aspects like the roof, pool, HVAC, or plumbing. It's worth noting that the buyer is responsible for the costs associated with all inspections.

9. What Kinds of Inspections are Recommended?

Besides the customary home inspection, buyers might consider various additional inspections. In Arizona, a termite inspection is strongly recommended due to the presence of subterranean termites. The adage goes that there are two kinds of houses in Arizona: those with termites and those destined to have them. These termites, distinctive to the desert, move at a slower pace compared to their counterparts in the Midwest and East Coast.

For sellers, especially those with older roofs, involving a licensed roofer for inspection is prudent. If the home inspector proposes further evaluations, like those by pool or AC contractors, these should be incorporated.

In situations involving older homes or abundant yard trees, a sewer line scoping is worth considering. This process employs a small camera to inspect sewer lines for potential breaks. In neighborhoods like Tempe or Phoenix with lush trees, tree roots may infiltrate sewer systems over time. Although drains might seem functional, damaged sewer lines could lead to unnoticed backups. Repairing broken sewer lines can incur costs ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. While not typically part of the standard home inspection, sewer scoping incurs additional fees. Nonetheless, this investment is often well worthwhile.

10. What Is the Objective of a Home Inspection?

Initially, it's important to note that home inspectors in Arizona are state-licensed professionals. They conduct visual assessments in line with state standards. The primary focus of their work is to pinpoint significant health, safety, or major mechanical concerns. Due to the buyer's non-ownership status, invasive inspections are not feasible.

Inspectors are restricted from activities like removing roof tiles, disassembling HVAC units, or opening walls. However, they possess the necessary tools to evaluate the operational status of most equipment.

11. What Do Home Inspectors Actually Examine?

Primarily, a home inspection entails visually examining accessible home systems. Given that the buyer doesn't possess the home yet, the inspector is restricted from conducting invasive inspections. For example, creating openings in walls to inspect pipes is not within their scope.

Disassembling an air conditioning system is also off-limits, in accordance with the state's view of this as a 'limited visual inspection'. Moreover, inspectors refrain from relocating furniture or boxes within the house or garage. While they can assess reachable outlets, they won't rearrange furniture or move it to reach an outlet. When a garage is densely packed with items like boxes and furniture, it can constrain the areas that can be inspected."

12. Do Home Inspectors Hold Licenses in Arizona?

Arizona mandates that home inspectors acquire state licensing. Contrastingly, certain states (such as California at present) don't impose state-level licensing requirements on home inspectors.

In Arizona, home inspectors receive certification from the Arizona Board of Technical Registrations. This certification necessitates completion of 84 hours of classroom education, successful clearance of a national examination, and completion of a minimum of 30 inspections under the guidance of a licensed home inspector.

13. What Role Does the Inspector Play? Are they on your side? 

Buyers seek an inspector who presents accurate information and conducts comprehensive evaluations. A home inspector acts as an impartial third party, adhering to state-approved home inspection protocols. Their appointment is at the behest of the buyer, aiming to ensure the property's safety and structural integrity. Additionally, the inspection informs buyers of potential repair requests for the seller as part of the property transaction.

Buyers should also be aware of potential repairs they may need to undertake themselves. Some inspectors may tend to exaggerate issues, while others might not exercise the same level of thoroughness. Inspection standards can vary, with some inspectors fulfilling only the minimum state requirements, while others exceed expectations. For instance, the state mandates checking a "sampling" of outlets in each room, but an exceptional home inspector would examine all accessible outlets. Similarly, while the state mandates inspecting a sampling of windows and doors for functioning locks, an excellent inspector would assess all accessible windows and doors.

14. Home inspectors typically focus on seven key aspects

Home inspectors commonly assess the following seven major factors:

  1. Water Damage
  2. Structural Integrity
  3. Roof Condition
  4. Electrical System Health
  5. Plumbing Functionality
  6. Pest and Insect Presence
  7. HVAC System Performance

In the context of the home inspection process in Phoenix, AZ, inspectors prioritize identifying structural and system-related concerns rather than focusing on cosmetic elements. Their evaluation extends to the house's exterior, plumbing, electrical components, roofing, heating and cooling systems, insulation, electrical panels, and ventilation. It's important to note that if the garage is heavily cluttered, the inspector might face limitations in checking outlets, water heaters, and other garage features.

Inspectors also measure water pressure in the house and, in some cases, assess yard irrigation systems. Some inspectors venture into the attic, equipped with protective gear, to investigate for moisture stains on the roof and rafters. They also inspect attic electrical wires, although some might only observe without entering. Furthermore, inspectors typically assess built-in appliances like stoves, microwaves, and dishwashers.

15. What Are the Limitations of a Home Inspector's Role?

A home inspector performs a restricted visual assessment due to the buyer's non-ownership status, making the inspection strictly visual. The inspector is prohibited from creating openings in walls or removing carpet, as well as lifting roof tiles. In instances involving potential roof issues, a roofer might investigate moisture stains in the attic or crawl space. Roof inspection might also involve walking the roof or using binoculars for closer examination.

Disassembling the AC unit is outside the inspector's scope, but they can assess air temperature entering and exiting intake vents to gauge adherence to standard temperature differences.

When an issue is detected, a home inspector often recommends further evaluation by a licensed contractor specializing in the specific area of concern, such as HVAC, roofing, or pools.

16. Inspection of Essential Controls

During the inspection, the home inspector will also highlight crucial controls within the house. Take note when the inspector emphasizes these critical features, like the electrical breaker panel. In Arizona, you'll typically find the breaker panel situated outside the house—this is distinct from the arrangement in many other states where it's located indoors.

Given the moderate climate of the Phoenix area, exterior breaker panels are suitable. Keep an eye out for the water main shutoff. It's customary in Arizona for a shut-off valve to be present for cutting off water supply to the house while keeping the watering system operational for the landscape. This feature is particularly valuable for vacation homes or extended travel, enabling you to deactivate water to the house.

Considering the frequent need for daily landscaping watering in Phoenix, being aware of the shut-off valve can prevent future complications. For instance, having the ability to turn off water promptly if an internal pipe bursts can spare you from significant issues.

17. Is the Buyer Allowed to Attend the Inspection?

Streamlining the Home Inspection Process in Phoenix, AZ, through Seller Preparation

Facilitating the home inspection process in Phoenix, AZ, is made smoother with some proactive steps taken by the seller. Firstly, ensure that the utilities are operational. When the seller has moved out, there's a chance utilities may have been turned off. Home inspectors require electricity, gas, and water to be functioning at the property. It's also essential to ensure that the inspector has unobstructed access to the house. In case of a home alarm system, either disarm it for the inspection or provide the inspector with the code.

If a real estate agent's or contractor's lockbox is in place, the inspector will coordinate access with the listing agent as per the scheduled time. When the seller hasn't moved out, it's important to ensure that all areas are reachable. Additionally, the inspector needs access to the water heater, commonly located in the garage in Arizona. Verify that no furniture is blocking doors or windows that require inspection.

Emphasizing Accessibility Attic access is crucial—verify that the inspector can reach it. If the seller customarily locks the electrical panel (often located outside the house in Arizona), make sure it's unlocked or provide the key for the inspector to use. Similarly, if a side gate is secured with a lock, ensure it's unlocked or provide the key.

Gate access to the property is a point of inspection. Do the gates open and close properly? Do they open in the right direction? For properties with a pool, should the gate be self-closing?

Ensure that all light bulbs are operational. If a light doesn't work, the inspector can't discern whether it's a simple bulb issue or an underlying electrical problem. This information will ultimately find its way onto the inspection report.

18. Is the Seller Allowed to Attend the Inspection?

"Typically, during the home inspection process in Phoenix, AZ, sellers do not commonly attend the inspection. Nonetheless, there's no prohibition against their attendance if they choose to be present. Sellers might occasionally react defensively if an inspector highlights a defect, possibly due to their familiarity with a certain condition over the years.

Home inspectors in Arizona adhere to a standardized checklist of items to inspect and report on. Their duty is to relay their findings to the buyer. However, the subsequent course of action rests entirely with the buyer's discretion.

19. What If the Inspector Uncovers an Issue Not Disclosed by the Seller?

In Arizona, sellers are obligated to complete a seller disclosure document, where they should reveal any latent defects they possess knowledge of. A latent defect pertains to a flaw in the property that wouldn't have been evident through a reasonably comprehensive pre-sale inspection. Furthermore, certain issues highlighted in a home inspection might not be within the seller's awareness.

Instances could involve roof problems (given that most sellers don't frequently access the roof), malfunctioning GFCIs, broken window locks, and more. However, if a seller is conscious of a defect and intentionally conceals it from the buyer, the buyer might have legal options post-closure. It's advisable for buyers to meticulously review the seller's disclosure before conducting a home inspection. If any areas raise concerns, it's beneficial to share the seller's disclosure with the home inspector for focused attention on those specific areas.

20. How Can a Buyer Verify the Completion of Repairs Following the Home Inspection?

The Arizona purchase contract stipulates that repairs should be carried out in a manner consistent with professional workmanship. Furthermore, receipts for the completed work are to be provided to the buyer three days before the sale's closing. Buyers have the option to engage their home inspector for a reinspection of the items agreed upon by the seller to be fixed post the initial home inspection. Additionally, buyers can cross-reference the receipts and, during the final walkthrough of the house, ensure that the work has indeed been undertaken.

In situations where verification isn't feasible directly, some buyers opt to enlist the expertise of specialized companies—such as pool or roofing companies—to confirm the appropriate execution of specific repairs.

21. What Are the Costs Associated with a Home Inspection?

Similar to any profession, the expenses for home inspections can differ among inspection companies. Buyers need to assess the services they desire and determine if the standard inspection offerings meet their needs. Some important questions to consider:

  1. Does the inspection cover the yard sprinkler system?
  2. Is there an additional fee for inspecting pools and/or hot tubs?
  3. Do termite or pest inspections come as part of the package?
  4. Are there additional charges for inspecting older properties?
  5. Does the inspection include a roof assessment?
  6. Is sewer scoping part of the inspection for older homes?

For any other questions you may have, give us a call 480-409-9900 or contact us!