When buying a home in the Oakland - Berkeley area you need to understand that our properties are sought after as many home buyers like that fact that that the majority of our homes are older with tons of charm. When buying a house it is important to thoroughly inspect it before you complete the purchase. It is not uncommon for homes to lie within earthquake fault zones or liquefaction areas, (liquefaction is when the soil beneath a property is loose-sandy soil.) Many homes have settled and have adjusted to the soil conditions that they are located on. On occasion I can tell a property will need a structural engineer inspection as the home shows signs such a sloping, cracking or the way the house is positioned on a hill. Other times it is less obvious and the home inspector will recommend an engineers report. When an engineer is needed, I am always fascinated by the findings of Dan Szumski. Dan is incredibly knowledgeable and really knows are area, often he knows obscure facts about a location. On one inspection at a Montclair property and told us that an old tunnel to Canyon was underground. Another time he told me that a fault line ran under a street, (and after a natural hazard report was order, he was correct!)
The thought of an engineer inspection can scare some, but usually a good engineer will give real solutions for any deficiencies that he or she finds. A few weeks back Dan told my client how he could do some of the seismic retrofit by himself and he even recommended using tools for the tool lending library in Oakland. Inspectors are realistic about older homes and will advise when something should be repaired ASAP, or when it can be done over time. If you have questions about a home you have already purchased you can always have an inspector come out and exam the areas that concern you. Knowledge is key!