HIRING A HOME INSPECTOR
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.
WHAT HOME INSPECTORS DO
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.
SCOPE OF THE INSPECTION
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.