The Home Inspection and What to Look For
Three topics will be discussed in this article. First, I will explain why you may never want to buy another home without having a home inspection completed, regardless of who pays for it. We will then move on to what the home inspection should consist of and, finally, I will discuss what to look for when hiring a Home Inspector.
Have you ever heard a dentist say ‘your teeth are fine but your gums have got to go’? Quite often people pay more attention to and money on cosmetically appealing features. Do you spend more time brushing your front teeth than flossing your gums? Or similarly, do you spend more time looking at the paint colour in a future home than you do in the basement? Honestly, many people only give the big-ticket items and structural details a cursory glance prior to purchasing a home. This is why you might want to call on the services and expertise of a Home Inspector. Like a visit to the dentist, a home inspection may entail a minor disruption to your schedule or budget, but a preventative trip now may save you pain and a higher price tag later.
So what do most home inspections include? Primarily, the Inspector should evaluate the overall structure of the home, including the heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems, as well as the roof, windows, doors, foundation, drainage, insulation value, and humidity levels. If you have reason to feel it might be necessary, you could also ask for reports regarding the presence of lead paint, aluminum wiring, asbestos, urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI), radon gas, and termites. These items may require the services of specialists other than the Home Inspector and may, in fact, not even be common problems in your area.
Typically a home inspection will take approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to complete and it is recommended that you be on the premises to acquaint yourself with the home. During the inspection, you will also learn about some regular maintenance tips that are required for your potential home. While the Home Inspector will not be able to give an opinion regarding the property value, he or she should provide you with a written report on the condition of the home.
The report should list visible defects and provide estimates of the costs to repair them. With this information, you can determine if the property meets your original expectations or if you should examine other options. For example, if your offer to purchase the property included a clause making the offer conditional on obtaining a satisfactory home inspection and a major leak in the roof was discovered during the inspection, you may wish to back away from the purchase. Alternatively, you might consider renegotiating the purchase price to compensate for the cost of repairing the deficiency.
Looking for a Home Inspector is a little more complicated than looking for a dentist. While you can rely on word of mouth referrals, you should not assume that there is a consistent minimum standard amongst Home Inspectors. Home Inspectors are a relatively new breed of professionals and their training and qualifications have yet to be standardized. Hence, buyer beware!
Here are some basic questions to ask your potential Home Inspector:
- Are you a National Certificate Holder?
- Do you have errors and omissions insurance?
- How many inspections have you completed?
- Can you provide me with client names who will confirm the quality of your work?
A typical home inspection in the Quinte area will cost between $300 and $400. While that may seem expensive, when put in perspective it is good value. A good home inspection on a $100,000 home is proportionate to a $25 to $35 safety check on a $10,000 car. However, in the home purchase process, the potential for a hefty bill i.e., a new $5,000 roof is much greater and likely not worth leaving to chance. And hopefully, you will be spending a lot more time in your home than you do in your car! Finally, during the home inspection, you will likely be advised of common maintenance tips that will save you money down the road and, ultimately, help you recoup some of the home inspection cost.
Although you may not initially be convinced the cost of a home inspection is justified, early diagnosis will allow you to make an informed and confident decision regarding the home you would like to purchase. If you are not convinced of the value of a home inspection, perhaps you do like visits to your dentist!
David Weir BA, CD is a Broker with Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty in Trenton. His sales in the Quinte area have ranked him in the Top 1% of all Royal LePage REALTORS® in Canada since 2005.