Home Inspection

Sewers / Waste Disposal System

Just as with other major systems in a home or building, the sewers and waste disposal systems should be inspected by a qualified professional prier to entering into a contract.  In San Francisco is it rare that sewers are not part of the public waste disposal system. However it is important for prospective buyers to verify that the there is a working sewer connection to the property, particularly in brand new buildings.       

Seismic Hazard Zones

In the instance of an earthquake there may be significant risk of landslide, ground liquefaction, or ground failure.  Areas at particular risk to these effects are called seismic hazard zones.  Sellers of property in a seismic hazard zone are required to disclose this fact to a buyer.     


All roofs leak eventually. However home buyers are advised to have a qualified professional inspect the roof, chimneys, skylights, gutters, drains and anything else attached to or penetrating the  roof.  Particular attention should be paid to the present condition and quality of the roof and the expected useful life of the roof.  A qualified professional should be able to estimate how many years a roof has left in its “life”.  There are no guarantees with such estimates as tomorrow’s weather can end the life of even the best roof.  That said, a new home buyer should understand the probability of whether they will need to incur the cost of a new roof –or perhaps worse the damages caused by an old roof leaking- in the near term following the purchase of their new home.

Roofing Materials

As all San Francisco residents know, San Francisco homes are built close together.  The close proximity of one home to the next increases the risk of fire as one home burning can quickly spread. In the aftermath of the 1993 Oakland hills fires which destroyed 3000+ housing units, the CA state legislature enacted housing laws to help prevent future devastating fire. One of those laws deals with roofing materials.  Homes deemed as high fire hazard homes by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or local agencies are required to use fire retardant roofing materials (Class A or better) if they are re-roofing 50% or more of their roof.  Class C or better roofing materials may be used in areas not deemed as being high fire hazard areas.          

Residential Water Conservation Ordinance

Under San Francisco’s Residential Water Conservation Ordinance, a real property owner must:

  • Equip showers with low flow devices limiting the water flow rate to 2.5 gallons per minute or less.
  • Attach aerators to applicable sink faucets.
  • Install low flow toilets or install devices designed to limit the water flow of an existing toilet.

A water conservation inspection and the appropriate changes must occur before transfer of title from seller to buyer can occur. The costs of water compliance are NOT applied to the cost limits associated with the energy conservation ordinance.  For specific questions, you can contact the Water Department at 415-551-3000.