Traditionally, home inspection was one of the common, accepted “conditions” on any offer. Home buyers had a specified period of time to conduct a home inspection, and the deal was dependent on a satisfactory outcome. But in a seller’s market like the one we’re experiencing, many vendors have the luxury of insisting on unconditional offers. Those who want to pause long enough for a house inspection can be left behind.
But a professional house inspection is an important step in the purchase process. Serious buyers will sometimes hire a “pre-offer inspection” to check the condition of a home. Armed with that knowledge, the buyer may have the confidence to make an informed, unconditional offer. Most house inspectors will encourage you to accompany them on their visual inspection of the home. Do it!
It will be the most valuable house tour you’ll ever take. Every inspection, of course, should also include a written report. In general, inspections are visual and look at the house both inside and out: a great reason why the inspection should take place in daylight. Outdoors, expect a close examination of exterior features like roofing, flashing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, decks, walls, and foundations – including grading and drainage away from the house. Inside, the inspector will be looking at all the house systems, including electrical, heating and cooling systems, ventilation and plumbing.
The inspection should also include a close examination of structural features, floors, ceiling and wall finishes, and the condition of windows and doors. If the home has a swimming pool, a septic system, or significant landscaping features, you may want to either look for an inspector with specific expertise, or bring in an additional specialist. Also, if you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, look for a house inspector who is
certified by WETT (Wood Energy Technology Training).
A professional house inspector will be formally trained, experienced and impartial: that is, he or she will not have a stake in the outcome of the inspection. For example, under their professional code of ethics, home inspectors are not allowed to be associated with any other construction
or house related trade. Many inspectors, of course, have valuable backgrounds in civil engineering, the construction trades, or even specialized areas like heating systems.
How do you find a good house inspector? Referrals are a great way to begin. Or, you can look up an accredited member of the new Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors at www.cahpi.ca. The initials “RHI” denote the highest accreditation of the association. When the inspection goes well – as they generally do – you get some important information about your home,
and you can feel assured that you’re moving into a home that’s in good condition. In the worst cases, buyers may want to re-negotiate or back out of the deal based on the inspection’s findings. Follow your instincts if you’re worried about the condition of the roof, for example, be wary about making an unconditional offer without a prior house inspection.
Though prices vary, a typical house inspection will set you back about $500 and three hours. If that sounds like a lot, remember that your home may be the most expensive and most important purchase you will ever make. And there’s no money-back guarantee.
For more information contact Laurie Baird
Consultant, Mortgage Intelligence Inc.
Phone (250) 862-1802 Fax (250) 712-0209
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.