Excitement and joy are visible on the faces of first-time home buyers when they come across a property that matches their imagination of a perfect home. Most buyers get swayed by their emotions and tend to mentally come at a decision that ‘yes’ this is the property that I will buy.
The danger here is that in this excitement they ignore structural, electrical or appliance-related issues. This is not an ideal situation to be in because their decision is based only on the attractiveness of a property and its surroundings when viewed from the street. They are unaware of serious and potential problems in the property. It is here that a home inspection proves to be useful.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is nothing more than due diligence of the property that you have chosen to buy, irrespective whether it is a detached home, a townhouse or an apartment. It is carried out by a HIP (home inspection professional) and comprises a comprehensive check of most of a building’s systems and structural components. Canada experiences extreme weather and precipitation variations and as a result properties begin to deteriorate. Local HIPs understand the risks specific to a Canadian province. For example, as the Canadian west coast experiences a lot of rain, local HIPs will check if there are any instances of water ingress, or mould in the basement.
What is covered under a home inspection and how much does it cost?
Home inspections help identify major problem areas. A typical inspection takes around 2-3 hours and involves a thorough check of the exterior and interior of the property. You should be present when it is carried out, so you can see things first-hand and also raise questions. Charges are variable depending upon the size and complexity of the property. Some HIPs also charge a flat fee. At the end of the process, the HIP will provide you a report with the findings.
Home inspection – exterior checks
The stages involved in inspection are as follows:
– A walk around the outside of the property to inspect exterior walls and to ensure that there are no cracks or damages, sidings are safe and there are no traces of insects.
– A check on the landscaping of the property to ensure that there is proper grading and drainage, especially the fact that water should drain away from the property.
– Checking doors and windows and evaluating their remainder lifespan.
– Inspecting foundations to ensure that there is no cracking or settling.
– Inspecting the roof and estimating its remainder lifespan. Checking to ensure that there is no evidence of water ingress, and that shingles and gutters are safe.
Home inspection – interior checks
Interior checks are the major part of the inspection and involve an inspection of the plumbing and electrical systems of the property. Below are the items that are checked:
o Plumbing and bathroom related:
– Plumbing done in the property and location of the main shutoff valve.
– Whether there is any leakage in pipes or at the faucets?
– Are the bathrooms dry and ventilated?
– Whether the flow and pressure of water is adequate?
– Bathroom fixtures should be secure and pipes should not leak.
– Caulk on the tiles should be adequate.
o Electrical systems and electrical panel:
– Electrical system is reviewed to determine the remainder life of all components.
– Type of electrical wiring done and its condition.
– Location of ground fault circuit interrupters and their condition?
o Hot water heater and HVAC system:
– Condition and efficiency of the system.
– Are there any leaks in the heating/ cooling ducts?
o Basements and crawl spaces:
– Foundation is strong and there is no damage to the structure.
– Basement is dry and there is no moisture.
– No evidence of insects or pests.
o Safety systems:
– Should be functional and operational.
– Condition of fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and sprinklers.
Things not covered under a home inspection
A typical home inspection will not cover:
– Odors or creaks in the property.
– Moulds those are toxic.
– Voids in insulation.
– Swimming pools and their condition.
– Asbestos roofs or walls.
– Radon gas and lead paint.
– Control of pests and vermin.
Evaluating the home inspection report
As a best practice you should read the report carefully as it will directly impact best home insurance Canada. Below are some tips to make the most out of it:
Go through the contents carefully:
The report is usually comprehensive and will cover the smallest details. However, it is advisable to undertake repairs of big ticket items. The lower the damages, the more favorable will be best home insurance Canada premium rates.
Leverage the home inspection report to re-negotiate
If you are a buyer and there are negative observations in the report, then you can either reduce your offer; or make your offer conditional upon repairs being carried out and then getting a favorable home inspection report.
Appreciate the limitations of a home inspection report
Do remember that while carrying out an inspection, home inspectors are not allowed to move furniture, or cause any damage to the home. This means that if damage has been covered by a carpet, then it will not be visible and hence not covered in the report.
Consider engaging another home inspector for a second opinion
If you think that the first home inspector has erred, then you can think of hiring another home inspector for a second opinion.
Take home warranty for your home
If you are a buyer, you can easily take home warranty for your new home, even though the property is old and built many years ago.
Buying best home insurance Canada
A home inspection report helps you in multiple ways. It gives insights to the insurer on the risks associated with your property and accordingly the premiums are calculated and the exclusions worked out. For instance, if you are able to rectify the electrical wiring of your home, as recommended in the report, then your premiums will be reduced.
Secondly, most banks require a home insurance and an appraisal of the property before they release funds for your mortgage. Sometimes they may also ask for a home inspection report. And if you have one beforehand, it makes processing of your mortgage application much easier.