What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a comprehensive visual examination of the home’s overall structure, major systems and components.
A trained and qualified home inspector will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another. Components that are not performing properly should be identified, as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. The purpose of the home inspection is to provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.
A home inspection is an educational process which is designed to reduce a consumer’s risk when buying a home, and is not a guarantee or a warranty on a property.
When do I need a home inspection?
Are you buying a home? A pre-purchase home inspection can provide you with the information you need to know about the condition of the house you plan to purchase. More information equals an informed purchase decision, which equals fewer surprises. Minimize the risk to your investment. No one wants to face serious, unexpected costs shortly after a purchase.
Considering a renovation? A home inspection can help homeowners prioritize repairs and maintenance. A pre-renovation inspection equals money spent in the right places.
Selling a home? Show prospective purchasers that every effort has been made to disclose the condition of the home. A listing inspection can equal a faster sale.
Gain an understanding of the systems in your home, their operation, and required maintenance. Preventative maintenance equals fewer headaches later.
How do I find the right home inspector?
Not all home inspectors are equally trained and qualified!
The best source is by far a “word of mouth” referral; ask a friend, family or co-worker if they can recommend a home inspector they have used in the past and were satisfied with the services. Other sources are your mortgage lender or mortgage broker. Your real estate professional can also refer you to a home inspector.
How long does a home inspection take?
A professional home inspection usually takes between two and four hours, depending on the size, age and condition of the house. It is critical that the inspector can access all areas and/or systems. If certain areas are inaccessible, the inspection can be hampered and take longer than necessary. The client may need to reschedule and pay for a return visit to the site.
Should I attend the home inspection?
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) article “Hiring a Home Inspector” recommends that potential home buyers accompany the inspector as the inspection takes place. It can be a valuable learning experience. You can also take this opportunity to get more familiar with your new home, to take measurements of rooms and/or windows. More importantly, you can ask your home inspector questions on the spot.
How do I prepare my home for an inspection?
Homeowners should be aware that inspectors cannot move personal effects during the course of an inspection. Here are a few suggestions to prepare a home for an inspection:
Remove any furniture and stored material from access panels, crawl spaces, attic hatches, electrical panel boxes, furnaces, hot water tanks and water shut-offs.
If the access panel to the crawl space or attic is in a closet, you might want to remove the clothes from that closet or cover the clothes with a sheet, in order to protect them from bits of insulation and debris that might fall down in the process of removing the access panel.
Over friendly or unfriendly dogs or other family pets can complicate the inspection process and are best keep either away from the house or in a contained space during the period of an inspection.
What type of report should I expect?
Following 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.
How much does a home inspection cost?
Pricing can vary depending on your area of service. The pricing criteria is usually based on the square footage of the house. Ask your home inspector. Also remember that some inspectors may have surcharges for a crawlspace, basement suite, age of house, mileage, etc. It is recommended that the terms be fully negotiated between the inspector and the client before the inspection starts.
What Home Owners should know about ASBESTOS
In most Canadian homes built prior to 1990, the presence of some building materials with asbestos is almost always present. It was commonly used in office buildings, public buildings and schools. It insulated hot water heating systems and was put into walls and ceilings as insulation against fire and sound. It has also been found in many products around the house: clapboard; shingles and felt for roofing; exterior siding; pipe covering; compounds and cement; textured and latex paints; acoustical ceiling tiles and plaster; vinyl floor tiles; and appliance wiring to name a few.
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) cautions: “To avoid health risks through prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres, proper precautions must be taken when repairs or renovations disturb asbestos-containing materials, such as: disturbing loose-fill vermiculite insulation which may contain asbestos; removing deteriorating roofing shingles and siding containing asbestos; ripping away old asbestos insulation from around a hot water tank; sanding or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles; breaking apart acoustical ceiling tiles containing asbestos; sanding or scraping older water-based asbestos coatings such as roofing compounds, spackling, sealants, paint, putty, caulking or drywall….”.
Recognizing and disclosing the possibility of asbestos is not within the scope of your home inspection. If your inspector suspects the presence of vermiculite, he/she may suggest further evaluation and analysis by a qualified professional.
What home owners should know about INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ).
What home owners should know about RADON.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. As a gas, radon is slowly released from the ground, water, and some building materials that contain very small amounts of uranium, such as concrete, bricks, tiles and gyproc. Radon gas breaks down further to form additional radioactive particles called radon daughters, or
“progeny” that can be breathed into the lungs.
Radon cannot be detected by the senses, i.e., it is colourless, odourless and tasteless; however, it can be detected with special instruments. When radon is released from the ground outside it mixes with fresh air and gets diluted resulting in concentrations too low to be of concern. However, when radon enters an enclosed space, such as a house or basement, it can accumulate to high concentrations and become a health risk.
Radon concentrations fluctuate seasonally, but are usually higher in winter than in summer, and are usually higher at night than during the day. This is because the sealing of buildings (to conserve energy) and the closing of doors and windows (at bedtime), reduce the intake of outdoor air and allow the build-up of radon.
For more information, please visit the Health Canada website at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/radon/faq_fq-eng.php
CREA offers the following valuable information: www.crea.ca/sites/default/files/A_Homeowners_Guide_to_Radon_(CREA).pdf
What home owners should know about POLYBUYTELENE PIPE (POLY B)
Although largely driven by problems resulting in court actions in the US, some Canadian insurance companies have been known to offer coverage of Poly B with verification of copper fittings only and, on occasion, will deny coverage of any Poly B Piping. .
What homeowners should know about KITEC PIPING.
Between 1995 and 2007, Kitec piping was a popular choice for new home plumbing. While most PEX piping performs fine, one type (branded under the Kitec name) had a design flaw with the fittings that homeowners should know about. In Nova Scotia, Kitec piping is primarily used as part of in-floor or hot water baseboard heating systems. There are fewer fittings in play in these systems, so the potential damage is likely to be much less, and quicker to spot if fittings fail, as the fittings are more visible.
Read more here:
What is the LIFE EXPECTANCY of your home components?
The following study of the life expectancy of home components was provided by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). It is a general guideline of life expectancy or performance of individual products and should be used as a ‘guideline’ only.
Protecting your Investment – Regular MAINTENANCE of your Home is the Key.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers this fact sheet for a regular schedule of seasonal maintenance to protect your investment in your home.