I would like to caution home buyers not to misunderstand the purpose of a professional inspection report. The inspector’s role is not to identify a complete repair list for the home, nor is it the seller’s obligation to repair any problems discovered by the home inspector.

Potential home buyers often incorrectly view an inspection report as a mandatory repair list for the seller. The fact is sellers are not required to produce a flawless house. They have no such obligation by law or by contract.

After a home inspection, suggested repairs are then subject to negotiation between the parties of a sale. Typically, buyers will request that various conditions be repaired before the close of escrow, and sellers will usually agree to some of these requests. But in most cases, sellers make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation.

Sellers of course have the legal right to refuse repair requests (except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance or the Real Estate purchase contract such as earthquake straps for water heaters and smoke detectors in specified locations). Before you make any requests of the seller, try to evaluate the inspection report with an eye toward problems of greatest importance to you. Look for conditions that comprise health and safety or involve active leakage. If requested in writing in your original offer or inspection request, most sellers will address problems affecting sensitive areas such as the roof, fireplace, gas burning fixtures and plumbing or electrical problems. If there are any repairs or improvements that you feel strongly should be done by the seller, ask for them during the inspection period time frame set forth in your contract. If you do not make a written request for such repairs, you should not expect them to be done.

Please remember that the primary objective of a home inspection is to know what you are buying before you buy it. All homes have defects; it’s not possible to acquire one that is perfect. What you want is a working knowledge of significant defects before you close escrow.