It's critical that you learn as much as possible about the property before you decide to buy it.
You should remember to make your Agreement of Purchase subject to a full professional home inspection, which is a standard practice in real estate transactions.
What Is Home Inspection
Inspection report should objectively describe condition of major house components, identify safety hazards, determine necessary repairs and provide suggestions for improvement.
Typical inspection usually takes 2 to 3 hours at the price of at least $350, depending on the home age and its size.
You should receive a written inspection report, signed and dated by the inspector.
Arrange to have the inspection as soon as your offer to purchase has been accepted. This way you can have enough time to decide what to do if defects are found.
How to Choose Your Inspector
Real professionals are full-time home inspectors, not renovators or contractors. Your protection depends on inspector's reputation and credentials. Experienced inspectors are more likely to find hidden problems.
A good inspector will neither offer own services for repairs nor refer you to contractors. Code of ethics does not allow home inspectors to be associated with other construction related businesses.
Ideally, the inspector is certified by Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors. This organization sets national standard regarding qualifications, professional conduct and procedures.
Inspectors who are experienced civil engineers or architects are better qualified to advise you about complex structural issues.
Asking your agent for a referral seems a natural thing to do but it does not guarantee objectivity. Real estate agents make money only on closed deals. Therefore, some of them may have a preference for lenient inspectors whereas you need a really tough one. You should rather find an inspector on your own to avoid this problem.
Inspector's mistake may cost you dearly. Ensure you have a contract which does not limit inspector's liability.
Do not fall into false sense of security when you are told that your inspector is fully insured for errors and omissions. This insurance does not protect you but the inspector against your claims of malpractice, provided your lawsuit for damages is won in court. Nevertheless, you should ask about it. Inspectors who do not qualify for such coverage are either new to the trade or have poor work history.
It is not necessary to be present for the inspection but it is highly recommended. You will be able to ask questions directly and learn more about the condition of the house. The report will be easier to understand after you've accompanied your inspector throughout the inspection.
Ask your inspector beforehand for a sample report. If you become familiar with its outline you will know what the inspector is supposed to do, and be better prepared to participate in the inspection.
Make sure your inspector does not show up on the site empty handed. A professional home detective should be equipped with basic tools of trade including electrical testers, fuel gas and carbon monoxide detector, moisture meter, ladder, inspection mirror, flashlight, level, etc.
New Home Inspection
New homes are subject to pre-delivery inspection before closing. Make sure that your builder does allow you to hire a professional building inspector.
Even though everything in a new house is brand new professional inspection is highly advisable. Your inspector should examine quality of workmanship, materials and appliances as well compliance with the documentation, sales agreement and safety standards.
Why to Hire Own Inspector
What Is Inspected
- framing - foundations
The house foundation shouldn't have any cracks and bulges. Wooden components must be checked if they are not rotten or infested by termites.
- signs of water leaks - presence of hazardous materials - walls, partitions, ceilings, floors - doors, windows - stairways, railings
The roof surface has to be in a good condition and waterproof, especially around chimneys, skylights and vents. Eaves should have no holes and be free of rust.
Slope of the ground has to prevent flow of water in the direction of a house. Otherwise, the basement and foundation are exposed to water damage. Your inspector has to search for water intrusion into the basement. The report should also describe possibility of flooding and preventive measures already in place.
Many construction materials have been abandoned when their hazardous properties were discovered. An old house may still contain some of these materials, like lead based paint, or formaldehyde foam insulation, or even materials holding asbestos.