Why Do I Need A Home Inspection?
Very simply, a house is the single largest investment most individuals will ever make. More and more purchasers are coming to understand the wisdom of a thorough home inspection prior to committing to its purchase. Home inspections have proven to be a positive and educational experience for prospective home buyers. An impartial inspection by a professional National Home Inspector (NHI) or Registered Home Inspector (RHI) will provide a large measure of protection from unpleasant surprises and allow you to make an informed decision about your purchase.
Having a professional home inspection may also reveal serious issues with a property you intend on purchasing. Is the home in an area known to be subject to Radon Gas? Is there any chance that the home was a former Marijuana Grow Operation or a Meth Lab? The fact that a house may not appear on the Ottawa Police listing of known properties that were former grow ops, is no guarantee that this house wasn't. Would you know what to look for? Is the home in an area known for unstable soil conditions? These are all issues that a professional home inspector will make you aware of during your home inspection. Miss them, and your family's health and safety may be at risk, not to mention the hole it will burn in your pocketbook to resolve them.
Read our CLIENT TESTIMONIALS
The purpose of an inspection is to determine the condition of a property at the time of purchase, or afterwards in cases involving litigation, in order to disclose the following:
- serious deficiencies (usually defined as repairs in excess of $1,500)
- replacement and repair requirements
- age and life expectancy of major components
- positive aspects of the home
- maintenance and safety information
What do you Inspect?
The following is part of a standard home inspection:
- Slope, grading and drainage of the property
- Foundation and exterior walls
- Porches and decks
- Windows, doors, headers and sills
- Fascia, soffits and eaves troughs
- Roof, flashings, vents and chimneys
- Garage, carport and outbuildings
- Foundation walls, basement floor, posts and beams
- Waterproofing, moisture penetration, wood rot, etc.
- Electrical service and wiring
- Plumbing supply, waste drainage and fixtures
- Heating, air conditioning (summer only) and ventilation
- Floors, walls, ceilings, doors and windows
- Attic insulation and ventilation
Typically an inspection takes between 2 and 3 hours, occasionally longer, and includes an examination of all the major systems such as roofing, structural, exterior and interior finishes, electrical, heating/air conditioning, insulation, plumbing and related components.
A professional home inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotations for repairs, noncompliance with building code requirements, and is not intended to provide guarantees or warranties. Well water analysis and septic inspections are not part of a standard home inspection but very important. We would suggest that you have both of these areas addressed by professionals in those specialties. Several Laboratories provide water sample vials that may be collected and filled by the purchaser and submitted to the lab for analysis. Air Conditioners can not be inspected except during summer months (typically May to September). Pools and spas are not included as inspection items. Wood burning appliances such as fireplaces and wood stoves would require an separate inspection by a WETT inspector (Wood Energy Technology Transfer). Some fire insurance companies provide discounts for WETT inspected and approved properties.
Knowing what to expect will help you make an informed decision about the value of your home as well as the costs of future upkeep. Check out our information on Preparing for the Inspection. Two articles taken from the "Ottawa Citizen" and well worth reading are: Home Inspections Pay Dividends and Inspect Before You Seal the Deal
When Should The Inspection Take Place
Resale Home - Pre-Purchase Home Inspection
The time to consider scheduling your home inspection is at the same time you make your offer. If you wait until it is accepted, you may have to quickly scramble to get conditions filled on extremely short notice. Obtaining mortgage pre-approval in advance of an offer and scheduling your home inspection when you submit it, can ease these pressures. Trying to find a GOOD home inspector during busy summer months can be impossible on short notice. We are normally booking 3-5 business days in advance during high season
Regardless of the time of year or how hot the real estate market may be, it's ALWAYS wise to make any offer conditional on key points like mortgage approval, and a "Home inspection to your satisfaction". Waiving these important conditions as a result of pressure from an overly anxious real estate agent or vendor can really land you in hot water when you find out after your dream home has more than it's share of costly issues and now you can't back out of the deal..
Your real estate agent may have included a clause in your offer to purchase, making it conditional upon a home inspection to your satisfaction. If there isn't a clause to that effect, then you need to include it. We would even go so far as to suggest that you add a clause stating that if your inspector suggests additional inspections by specialized professionals(such as a heating contractor or electrician), there be an allowance to accommodate them as well.
An agreement of purchase is a binding contract, once signed, there may be little room for alterations or changes. No offer to purchase should be signed without seeking the advice of a reputable real estate lawyer who will ensure that your interests are protected within the contract. Rather than making your offer expire by a certain date, consider wording so that you have X numbers of business days after it's acceptance by the vendors to get all your conditions fulfilled. That way negotiations can continue without having to continually rewrite the offer because dates keep passing.
Remember that items like air conditioners cannot be inspected during colder months and a clause to ensure their satisfactory operation should be considered (we normally suggest that a date like July 1st would allow a purchaser the chance to test an air conditioning unit under hot climatic conditions). You are generally granted a limited time frame to arrange and have your inspection completed. While booked in advance, the actual home inspection should take place after all price negotiations have been finalized and the vendors have accepted your offer. At this point in time, it is evident that you intend to purchase the property. Now is your opportunity to determine the finer details about what you are buying by engaging the services of a National Home Inspector
It is highly recommended that you accompany the inspector during the inspection process. At Home Inspectors® we insist on your presence and encourage your active participation in the inspection process through questions and answers. Most of our clients who are buying a home, end up knowing more about it than the current owners! Please remember that part of the inspection occurs outdoors – so dress accordingly. Also a home inspection is not the time to showcase your new purchase to family and friends. We suggest that only those directly involved in the purchase attend as we will need their undivided attention to explain our findings throughout the inspection process.
You should receive a written copy of your inspection report at the time of its completion. At Home Inspectors® we provide you with a copy of your report generally onsite – We retain a second reference copy at our office. You may call us anytime for information, as advice is free for as long as you own the home. .
It's a New Home - Why have it inspected at all?
my builder says they will inspect it with me.
New home construction is not without its problems, especially in the Ottawa area.
Most homeowners are not professionally trained to determine the construction defects with their new home and yet both the Builder and Tarion Home Warranty program expect them to document and report all of their home's shortcomings at various intervals like the Pre-Delivery Inspections with the Builder, 30 Day and 1st, 2nd and 7th year of ownership.
While most homeowners can identify cosmetic issues with their new home, often their untrained eye can overlook serious construction deficiencies. This is a job best left to a trained professional like a Home Inspector with New Home Construction Experience.
Yes your Builder will conduct a a pre-delivery walk through inspection with you (PDI) however, they aren't going to pick your home apart as part of this process. This is their opportunity to show off their work - not criticize it.
But the Home Is Insured by Tarion Home Warranty?
That may be true, but like all insurance programs, Tarions is not perfect. Firstly, they will only consider covering what you claim. Secondly the program is often a frustrating process for new homeowners and often defects in workmanship are NOT warrantied. Unless you can substantiate that your findings are indeed "Credible" then you might get the run around. This is where having a Professional Home Inspector assist you can be of huge benefit. Meetings with your Builder like your Pre-Delivery Inspection, are their opportunity to showcase your new home, don't expect them to point out everything wrong with it. You however, will be asked at the PDI to identify all defects with your new home. Most homeowners tend to use the PDI to check out the cosmetics of their new home, not get into structural details. If you think new homes are problem free, we suggest you read this Tarion Survey first. It's clear to see that while some new homeowners are pleased with the Tarion coverage and process, many other are not. Also bear in mind that a professional home inspector should point out ALL defects with your home, whether they will be warrantied by Tarion or not. As a homeowner, you need this information to be able to "Protect your Investment" in the long run.
If you have not yet purchased your new home, it is a good idea to consider the services of a Professional Home Inspector during it's construction. You will require that a clause be inserted into the Agreement of Purchase & Sale with the builder that stipulates that construction inspections are permitted. Some builders are hesitant to allow this service. If this is the case with your choice of builder, you may want to reconsider things. Many builders are at least permitting frame-walks or pre-drywall walkthroughs where you may be permitted to have your own home inspector accompany you. We strongly suggest that you consult with an expert real estate lawyer, prior to the signing of any new home purchase agreement. Your lawyer may also suggest that you have a copy of the floor plan for your new home, included in the agreement papers.
If your builder will not accommodate construction inspections, it is still in your best interests to consider having a professional home inspector accompany you to your PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) prior to your occupancy and any money changing hands. During this PDI you will be asked to create a list of deficiencies with the builder representative (and of course the verbal assistance of your home inspector). After you move into your new home, there is generally a period of 30 days in which you may forward a list of building deficiencies to the Warranty Program. There is also another opportunity as you approach your first anniversary in the home. Your final list of home deficiencies needs to be submitted to Tarion Warranty within a 30 day period prior to the end of your first year in the home.
PLEASE READ: It is imperative that all correspondence to your builder and/or the warranty program, contains a running list of ALL outstanding deficiencies with your home - even if previously reported. Most Warranty Programs look at your last list submitted as the most recent and accurate reflection of all outstanding issues. If you were to submit a report of any new issue on its own, they will assume that all previous matters have been remedied. (whether they have been corrected or not).
* (Home Inspectors® has provided this information as a courtesy and does not warrant the accuracy of any warranty information above as rules and regulations for any warranty program may change from time to time. We strongly suggest that you remain current with all warranty policies and strictly adhere to the requirements of the program in order to retain the most from your coverage)
With any new home purchase, it is strongly recommended that you ensure that you fully comprehend all the rules and requirements of your provincial warranty program prior to taking possession. In Ontario, you will want to visit the Tarion Warranty web site and review it in detail.
How Much Will It Cost?
Often the first question asked, when it should actually be one of your last! An inspector's qualifications should be of more importance to you. An inexperienced inspector at any price, isn't a deal and may actually end up costing you more in the long run.
Many individuals may call themselves home inspectors and charge less than their competition. You should be suspicious of any quotes less than $400. Check their qualifications, track record and ask several pertinent questions (see the section below on choosing an inspector). While you shouldn't have to pay a fortune for a building inspection, the old adage that "you get what you pay for" holds a lot of truth! Homeownership is an expensive task and cutting corners by hiring the cheapest inspector that you can find, may end up as a very costly mistake. Check out references and credentials and above all - Hire an Experienced Professional!
A good quality inspection by a National Home Inspector (NHI)) or Registered Home Inspector (RHI), professional will likely cost upwards of $400 but should not generally total more than $550 (taxes excluded). Exceptions should be made for larger or unique properties or those containing multiple units such as a residence with a basement apartment, a duplex or triplex. Inspections involving several site visitations such as those during a building's construction, will cost considerably more due to the time involved and the uniqueness of this service. Payment of the fee is usually due upon completion of the inspection.
The actual cost of the inspection should be one of your least concerns as the benefits realized from a professional inspection will far outweigh it's cost, several times over.
How Do I Choose The Right Inspector?
Don't become an unfortunate statistic as many unsuspecting home buyers and homeowners have become. Home Inspection is still totally unregulated in Canada. Absolutely ANYONE can claim to be a home inspector in Canada, even if they have NO credentials, related training or experience. So how do you choose? Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation -CMHC recommends that consumers deal only with professional home inspectors who are members of a recognized professional association. CMHC offers an on-line publication entitled Hiring a Home Inspector.
While home inspectors in Canada remain an unregulated body, there are some professional associations that offer certification to their qualified members. In Canada the highest national designation now available, is a National Home Inspector (NHI) through the National Home Inspection Certification Council
Certificates in Home Inspection from Community colleges (like Algonquin) tend to mean very little on their own. Most recognised Home Inspection Associations require additional training over and above the community college certificate.
Not all Home Inspection Associations are created equal either and there are often huge differences in qualification requirements. Even the largest association in Ontario has very different requirements of their new members vs. their existing membership. So consumers need to do their homework
To understand more about home inspection in Ottawa ON
Having said that, not all professional home inspectors are created equal. It is very important to determine how long the individual has been conducting professional home inspections full time. While many individuals claim to have "X years of experience" it may be in a construction related trade and not actual inspection experience - there is a HUGE difference. Professional Home inspectors are specifically trained in "Defect Recognition". Any tradesperson or professional such as an Engineer does not specially have this training by virtue of their trade or professional degree. Do you really need an Engineer to conduct your home inspection. The answer is simply - NO - You need someone specifically trained in "Defect Recognition".
This distinction is discussed in our 20 Questions To Ask a Home Inspector page.
Look for these logos when choosing a Home Inspector
The Professional Home & Property Inspectors of Canada
CAHPI - Ontario (OAHI)