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What You Need to Know About Home Inspections

Tips to keep in mind while shopping for a home inspector.

A home inspection is absolutely essential.

In a fast-paced sellers’ market, buyers often find themselves in a multiple-offer situation with little time to think. It can be frustrating, especially if having already lost out in several “bidding wars”. Offers are being presented without any conditions. Panic sets in and potential buyers may forego a home inspection. — DON’T DO IT!

A home inspection is absolutely essential. Did I mention this is a “must do” and “of extreme importance?”

No house is perfect. Generally, only minor issues are discovered, but then again, expensive problems could be revealed. After the closing date is not the time to find major deficiencies: you could be denied insurance, or in a worst case scenario need to take out a second mortgage to correct structural problems.

If you’ve found THE house for your family, and know you will likely be in competition, consider doing a pre-inspection. Many reputable home inspectors offer such packages with a choice of service options, but do try to contract the most comprehensive inspection possible.

Sellers may provide their own professional report to potential buyers. Completed prior to placing the home on the market, it allows the seller to remedy any problems that may be reported in advance of the sale. Naturally, this does not negate a buyer’s responsibility of due diligence, but it is an excellent tool in providing a comparison to your own findings.

Whatever package you choose, you should be provided with a thorough examination of both the exterior and interior of the home, and a written report evaluating any major and/or minor defects requiring attention. Most will also include photo documentation. Be present for the inspection, and ask questions.

What every inspection report should include.

Home Inspection Thermal Imaging FLIR

Initially, there will be a visual examination of all accessible systems and components inside and outside of the home.

Outside, the home inspector will typically check:

  • The site itself.
  • Porches, decks and additional outdoor structures.
  • Foundation.
  • Roof and shingles.
  • Gutters and drainage.
  • Condition of caulking around windows and doors.

Inside, the inspector will scrutinize the home from top to bottom:

  • Attic for insulation value and to ensure non-paying tenants (racoons, mice, hornets) haven’t taken up residence.
  • Walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Windows and doors.
  • Light fixtures, receptacles, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Appliances.
  • Electrical, plumbing and drainage systems.
  • Water heater.
  • Test heating or cooling system. (limited to & dependent on the season).
  • Check for basement and/or crawl space moisture problems.

Some additional services may be available upon request. If the home inspector is not certified or qualified to do so, they will likely be able to recommend the appropriate specialists:

  • WETT Certified fireplace inspections.
  • Radon testing.
  • Safety recall check.
  • If outside of municipal services – well water tests and septic tank inspection.

Just like Superman’s X-ray vision – an infrared camera scan can see what lurks behind the wall.

An infrared camera scan is now generally included in every thorough home inspection. This invaluable tool can locate and identify potential problems that are not readily visible.

  1. Heat loss due to missing or inadequate insulation or caulking.
  2. Areas where moisture may have entered into the house, attic or basement.
  3. Damaged or malfunctioning concealed plumbing and heating systems.
  4. Overheating/overloading of circuits in the electrical panel.

What to expect after the inspection is completed.

Old Attic
Photo by Uwe Jelting on Unsplash

The home inspector may give you a cursory report on site, but most deliver written and detailed reports to you within 24 hours. There may be technical terms that are unfamiliar, so ask for clarification if you’re unsure.

You may also discover the inspector has included recommendations pertaining to items that are not of immediate concern, but will likely need replacement in the near future. Some of the most common include shingles, furnaces and air conditioning units, and household appliances.

What is the life expectancy for commonly replaced building components?

Shingles can range from 12-15 years for standard, and 15-30 years for premium asphalt shingles. These numbers are strictly guidelines. Where you live, and the normal weather patterns in your area greatly affect the longevity. Metal roofs, which certainly represent a considered purchase, can last up to 60 years.

The cost for HVAC systems depends on your preference for manufacturer and size required for the square footage of your home. A forced air furnace will give you anywhere from 10-25 years of reliable service and central A/C about 10-15 years.

Appliances have a knack of breaking down at the most inconvenient of times. If deciding to replace, manufacturers offer an array of benefits and high tech features. Personally, I find the more bells and whistles, the more likely the possibility for service calls. Thankfully stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers are expected to last for a considerable length of time. Dishwashers less so.

It’s important to do your homework.

Roofing Shingle Damage
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

When choosing a reputable and qualified home inspector, you can opt for one of the major franchise companies or select an independent provider. Always request references.

We have all heard the horror stories; so how do you protect yourself from unqualified contractors?

Ask friends and family for their recommendations and I would suggest you check if your potential candidate is registered with one of these national or provincial organizations. Accredited membership indicates inspectors have undergone significant training, exams, and are held to the highest ethical, moral and professional standards.

NACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
OACHI (Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors)
OAHI (Ontario Association of Home Inspectors)

Provincial Government legislation to license the home inspection industry is a positive step to protect consumers in the home buying process.

The completion of a home inspection brings you one step closer to buying your new home. It alleviates concerns regarding potential problems and paints a complete picture of the property.

Now. Aren’t you glad you didn’t skip over this essential step?

Top Photo by Burst from Pexels
Cheryl Tym, Sales Representative, REMAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Cheryl Tym
REALTOR®, RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage

A full time REALTOR® dedicated to providing the best possible service and outcome for clients and their families. International sales, marketing and negotiating skills were part of the daily routine while living and working overseas as Director of Operations for an international hospitality marketing firm. A graduate of Sheridan’s Interior Design Program, and recipient of the Professionalism Award, my artistry and knowledge will highlight the very best features of your property, inside and out.

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Oakville, Ontario, L6J 1J3
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