NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page -

It’s of­ten said that one of the most ex­pen­sive and im­por­tant pur­chases you will ever make is your home. How­ever, un­like the guar­an­tee a buyer re­ceives with most pur­chases, there’s no money-back guar­an­tee or re­turn pol­icy if you’re not sat­is­fied with your re­cently pur­chased home. Once you buy a home, you’re on your own to main­tain it, re­pair it, an­tic­i­pate prob­lems and pay the bills. This is why it’s best to know as much as you can about po­ten­tial prob­lems be­fore you make the com­mit­ment to buy.


One of the best ways to learn about a home’s con­di­tion, hab­it­abil­ity and safety is to hire a pro­fes­sional home in­spec­tor. A prop­erly trained in­spec­tor will re­view your house as a sys­tem, look­ing at how one com­po­nent of the house might af­fect the op­er­abil­ity or life­span of an­other. Home in­spec­tors go through a prop­erty and per­form a com­pre­hen­sive vis­ual in­spec­tion to as­sess the con­di­tion of the house and all its sys­tems. They de­ter­mine the com­po­nents that are not per­form­ing prop­erly as well as those that are be­yond their use­ful life or are un­safe. They also iden­tify ar­eas where re­pairs may be needed or where there may have been prob­lems in the past. In­spec­tions are in­tended to pro­vide the client with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of prop­erty con­di­tions, as ob­served at the time of the in­spec­tion.

A pre-pur­chase in­spec­tion for a 165 to 205 m2 (1,800 to 2,200 square feet) home typ­i­cally takes about three hours and costs un­der $500. Af­ter the in­spec­tion, the buyer is pre­sented with a writ­ten re­port con­sol­i­dat­ing the de­tails of the in­spec­tion. The home in­spec­tor should be will­ing to an­swer any ques­tions a buyer might have and to clar­ify the lim­i­ta­tions of the in­spec­tion to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings. CMHC rec­om­mends that po­ten­tial buy­ers ac­com­pany the in­spec­tor while the in­spec­tion takes place. It can be a valu­able learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.


The home in­spec­tor will do a vis­ual in­spec­tion of the home’s var­i­ous sys­tems, in­clud­ing in­te­rior and ex­te­rior com­po­nents. The ex­te­rior com­po­nents in­clude roof­ing, flash­ing, chim­neys, gut­ters, down­spouts, wall sur­faces, the foun­da­tion and the grad­ing around it. Note that if the in­spec­tion takes place in the win­ter, the roof and foun­da­tion may not be fully vis­i­ble for in­spec­tion if they are cov­ered with snow and ice. For safety and in­sur­ance rea­sons, the home in­spec­tor is not re­quired to climb onto a roof to look at it but will make all pos­si­ble ef­forts to do so un­der other con­di­tions. The in­spec­tor will in­spect the roof from the ground. This also ap­plies to the chim­ney and down­spouts. If prob­lems or symptoms be­yond the scope of the in­spec­tion are found, the home in­spec­tor may rec­om­mend fur­ther eval­u­a­tion.

In­te­rior sys­tems the home in­spec­tor will check in­clude elec­tri­cal, heat­ing, air con­di­tion­ing, ven­ti­la­tion, plumb­ing, in­su­la­tion, floor­ing, ceil­ing and wall fin­ishes, win­dows and doors. Note that a home in­spec­tor is not qual­i­fied to in­spect a wood-burning ap­pli­ance such as a fire­place or wood stove un­less he or she is WETT (Wood En­ergy Tech­nol­ogy Train­ing) cer­ti­fied. Many home in­spec­tors are but do not carry out a WETT in­spec­tion as part of the stan­dard home in­spec­tion un­less it’s re­quested. This is an ex­tra re­quest and will add at least an hour to the in­spec­tion time. To be prop­erly in­spected, a chim­ney must first be cleaned.

As with the out­side of the home, the in­spec­tion of the in­te­rior sys­tems is vis­ual, mean­ing that the in­spec­tor will not be able to look be­hind walls or un­der the floor.

A proper home in­spec­tion does not in­clude an ap­praisal, ex­act quotes for re­pairs or point­ing out non-com­pli­ance with build­ing code re­quire­ments. A home in­spec­tion is not in­tended to pro­vide war­ranties or guar­an­tees. It is in­tended to help you make an in­formed de­ci­sion about buy­ing your home. A home in­spec­tion is not to be mis­taken for a war­ranty on the house.

This ar­ti­cle was sup­plied by CMHC (the Canada Mort­gage & Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion). Go to www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca. for other ar­ti­cles.

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