Part of an ongoing series of San Francisco real estate & related guest bloggers, here is one of San Francisco’s top residential home inspectors, Bill Thomson of the Thomson Builder Group, letting you know all about the home inspection process when buying a home in San Francisco.


One of the most important processes in buying a home is having it properly inspected.  The inspector can give you information about the property so that you will be more familiar with it and as a result have a better understanding of it. (SFHotlist – This is true whether you are buying a Bernal Heights single family home or a Mission Dolores condo.)


Your real estate agent is a good resource for recommendations of home inspectors.  (SFHotlist – We keep an updated list of reliable local home inspectors for our clients to choose from. Other San Francisco home resources & service providers) Be sure to choose an inspector who is a licensed general contractor.  There is no licensing body for home inspectors themselves.  Choosing an individual who is a licensed general contractor can ensure that your inspector has reasonable qualifications.  Your inspector should at least have 10 years experience as a licensed general contractor

Be sure your home inspector has specific experience in expecting homes in the part of the Bay area in which the building is located.  If you’re purchasing a home in San Francisco, for example you want an inspector who has specific experience with the types of problems and repairs that typically occur in buildings of the type you’re purchasing. (SFHotlist – For example, are you buying an Inner Mission loft, a Duboce Triangle TIC, or maybe a Forest Hill single family home? Make sure your inspector knows the type of architecture.)

Your home inspector should not only be making specific recommendations for repairs but should also provide advice on the maintenance of the building and the installations with in it.

It’s a good idea to choose an inspector who has specific experience with the building department that has jurisdiction over the area in which the building is being purchased.  Most of my experience is in San Francisco.  I’m very familiar with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection and the codes that they apply.

Your home inspector should have appropriate insurance.  They should carry errors and omissions insurance of at least $500,000.  This can protect you in case there is a serious mistake.  An example would be the report indicates that the furnaces in good condition, but two months later the furnace causes fire that damages the property the inspector’s errors and omissions insurance could come into play regarding that damage.

If you are using one of the larger San Francisco real estate companies such as Zephyr Real Estate, Pacific Union, McGuire, Paragon, Coldwell Banker, Prudential, Vanguard Properties or any of the other larger companies they will likely insure that a “Certificate of Insurance” by the inspector is on file with them.  However, it never hurts to ask.


The most important item to have inspected and develop a good understanding about is the foundation. Following the foundation, an inspection and understanding of the roof is of significant importance. The electrical supply and distribution system should be inspected and commented upon as inappropriate installations can create a fire hazard. The plumbing system like the electrical supply and distribution should also be inspected and commented upon in regard to function, legality and opportunity for leaks. The heating system like the preceding installations should be observed and inspected so that it is clear that it was operating as intended. Kitchen appliances such as the range, ovens, dishwasher, garbage disposals and other operational installations should be tested to ensure that the’re operating normally.


You should expect to pay between $550.00 and $600.00 for a home inspection for single-family home.  This of course would include the written report. The site portion of the home inspection usually takes between an hour and a hour and a half.  Considerably more time is consumed creating the written report.

You should plan on attending the home inspection.  This is the ideal time for questions and answers about the state and conditions of the building. The written report should be available to the buyers by the end of the following business day of the site inspection. The written report should include accurate estimates for any needed repairs and should also include recommendations for maintenance as well as possible vendors.

Further questions on home inspections should be directed to Bill Thomson.  He can be reached at his office at 415-775-5300.”

Thanks, Bill! I, for one, feel better, don’t you?

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