Because not all Canadian provinces require sellers to reveal problems with their property to potential buyers, you have to protect yourself and your investment when buying a home. Often, the best way to do so is with a professional home inspection.
This decision often comes with a lot of questions like Do I really need a home inspection? How much is this going to cost me? How do I choose the right inspector? What’s included?
Here, we hope to answer these questions and provide you with the most important things to consider when getting a home inspection. But before we begin, let’s go over what a home inspector’s role is.
What’s included in a typical home inspection
In addition to performing a visual assessment of different rooms in the house (basement, attic, bathroom and crawlspace), the inspector will also examine all elements and systems in the home, including:
- -Heating/Air Conditioning
Home inspectors cannot guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong with the home, but they can give you an objective evaluation of the condition of the above-mentioned systems so that you can make an informed decision.
1. New or old—every home should be inspected.
Often, people believe that new construction homes don’t need to be inspected. After all, they are brand new—what could go wrong? Well, believe it or not, plenty!
First of all, just because your builder says that the home has already been inspected by the city and has passed code, does not mean that it has no problems. It simply means that the types of problems you’ll find in a newer construction will be different from those in older buildings.
The most common issues are often the result of carelessness, cheap substitutions or shortcuts taken by the builder or contractor. Improper building techniques and installation defects with mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems could result in major damage to your new home. Here are a few examples:
Poor installation of windows almost always leads to leaks, water damage and mold. Not to mention the costs, both financial and emotional, to you and your family.
Because today’s new constructions are designed to be so airtight, they need powerful ventilation and exhaust systems in order to maintain healthy indoor air quality and eliminate indoor odours.
Unfortunately, many times, exhaust fans are not doing their job, either because they were improperly installed or they had the wrong circuit breakers or they were mistakenly covered up by siding. The list of potential problems goes on and on…
Improperly installed wooden flooring
If you’re putting in natural wood floors, your builder should know that wood expands and contracts over time and in different temperatures. As such, it must first be acclimated to the building site before being installed. If this is not done, gaps can develop, leading to moisture intrusion, flooding, mold and big headaches.
2. Cheaper isn’t always better.
Buying a home is a big expense as it is, so it’s understandable why you may be reluctant to dish out for any additional expenses, even a home inspection. However, a home inspection is not something you should try to save money on.
You want a qualified and experienced person who will be thorough and examine every room, every system and every element of your new home to ensure that everything is safe, durable and up to code. Sometimes the most insignificant of things (like peeling paint) can be a sign of much bigger problems (issues with heating and cooling systems, missing vapour barrier, mold behind walls, etc.).
There are so many home inspectors these days and they differ in a lot of ways, from their level of training and experience to what they offer their clients. Before you hire anyone, here are some questions to ask:
- 1. What professional affiliations and certifications do they have? Do they belong to a nationally recognized association?
- 2. What kinds of tools and diagnostic equipment do they use (e.g. moisture metres, particle counters)?
- 3. Is an official report included in the home inspection? If so, is it written or electronic? Does it contain photos of the property and appliances?
- 4. Is anything not included in the inspection (e.g. mold tests, infrared scans, indoor air quality tests)?
If you’re hesitant about just Googling a professional home inspector, but you’re not sure how to find one, word of mouth is often a great method to find reputable and local professionals. Ask friends, family or co-workers. Someone is bound to have experiences to share—good or bad—which can help you make your decision.
3. Be there during the home inspection
Although most home inspectors will provide a full written report upon completion of the home inspection, being there during the inspection process gives you a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns you have face to face with a professional.
It also allows you to understand how important certain issues are in comparison to others. This kind of information you wouldn’t be able to get just by reading a report.
What’s in your best interest?
It’s important to remember that hiring a home inspector is not just another way for the real estate industry to squeeze an extra $300-$500 out of your wallet. It’s actually in your best interest.
A home inspector is on your side, protecting you from potential defects that could quite literally sink you financially.
It’s also important to realize that a home inspector’s opinion is not biased, meaning their income does not depend on the sale of the property or how many issues they find. Their priority is to be as thorough as possible and provide the best service possible because this increases their chances of getting more clients via referrals.
So before signing anything, be sure to make a home inspection a necessary condition in your offer to purchase.