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Hiring an inspector? Here are some questions to ask
Home inspections matter — but you still have to hire the right guy.
Becoming a home inspector isn’t a one-day job. Think about it — how could you possibly learn enough to provide an accurate snapshot of a home without enough training and experience? Ideally, you want to hire someone with a construction background, who knows the best techniques to properly vet a home for any potential red flags.
Here are what some of the best inspectors in the industry are doing — if you’re hiring an inspector, ask them about these services. This will help you find peace of mind that you’ve found one of the best:
How do you know what’s going on behind your walls without opening them up? One of the most valuable tools a home inspector can carry with them is a thermal imaging camera. Thermal imaging cameras show off variations in surface temperatures.
Now, thermal imaging cameras can’t actually see through walls, so if your inspector detects sharp temperature changes throughout the home, these are some clues a good inspector will use to make an educated guess at the potential issue.
If temperature changes around doors and windows, there may be problems with the weatherstripping and caulking.
Cool spots can also indicate problems with moisture, so if your image captures a temperature drop near plumbing fixtures or appliances — there could be a leaky hose or pipe hiding behind the walls. Here’s where your inspector will pull out their moisture metre to check if the levels are elevated. If the wall is window free and nowhere near any plumbing — you may have an issue.
MOULD AND HEALTHY INDOOR AIR
People tend to worry about the air outside being harmful without considering the quality of their indoor air. But in most cases, the air inside your home can be more polluted than what’s outside — between two to five times worse!
A good home inspector will perform an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) assessment. With an IAQ, your inspector will go through the home and identify potential indoor air quality risks. They’ll even ask you about your own personal habits inside the home that could contribute to poor indoor air.
The inspector will be able to collect an air sample to send out to a lab for analysis to tell you the mould spore count in your home. Mould needs three things to thrive: a source of food (building materials), air and moisture. But if your inspector’s moisture metre didn’t detect an excess spike of moisture, you should be in good shape. All homes will have some mould spores — it’s only when they’re given the right conditions to thrive and grow is when you’ll need to take action.
And don’t forget to ask your inspector to test your home for radon. As an invisible, odourless gas, you won’t know if your home has high concentrations of radon gas unless you test for it.
A DECK INSPECTION
Do you pay as much attention to your outdoor structures as you do your main home? You should — they require just as much maintenance as the rest of the home. Exposure to the elements, without the proper care can make them break down much more quickly — or become a danger.
This is most apparent in your deck — where a lot of us spend many summer evenings barbecuing, entertaining, or simply relaxing. It’s important that this structure is safe. A deck inspection looks at the overall structure including: the footings, posts, beams, connectors, ledger boards, railings, stairs, and deck boards to give an overall assessment. The inspector will then list any major safety concerns, or deficiencies within the structure, and offer a timeline on when those issues will need to be addressed.
Just for safety — if your deck is more than five years old, it should be inspected as soon as possible, and at least every three years beyond that. I read about too many deck accidents in the summertime — accidents that could have been prevented.
Hiring a qualified home inspector isn’t your only job in the inspection process. I recommend being on site for the inspection, because it’s your opportunity to learn about the home first hand. Make sure you’re asking lots of questions, and listening to what the inspector has to say.
Finally, once finished, your inspector will hand you a report of the home. Make sure you read it and understand everything about the home that your inspector tells you.
Watch Mike Holmes in his series, Holmes Makes It Right, on HGTV. For more information, visit makeitright.ca
I RECOMMEND BEING ON SITE FOR THE INSPECTION, BECAUSE IT’S YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT THE HOME FIRST HAND. MAKE SURE YOU’RE ASKING LOTS OF QUESTIONS, AND LISTENING TO WHAT THE
INSPECTOR HAS TO SAY. — MIKE HOLMES