Buying a home, whether brand new or previously occupied, is probably your biggest financial undertaking. Would you buy a car from a used car dealer without having your own trusted mechanic check it out first? The same applies to your home.
Your real estate agent will be happy to provide you with a list of home inspectors. Before hiring one, check his/her qualifications on the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors website: www.oahi.com
Unless you have solid experience in the building trades, you need the services of a qualified home inspector. At the moment, anyone in Ontario can call themselves a home inspector. Be sure that your home inspector really knows what he’s doing; insist that he is certified by the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. Such an inspector has a thorough background in the Ontario Building Code, and has passed provincial exams. In addition, he has training in electrical, heating and plumbing systems, and special training in defect recognition. Most importantly, a registered home inspector carries full errors and omissions insurance, just as a medical professional would carry malpractice insurance. If there is anything you’re unsure about, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to help.
The inspector has the training and experience to spot potential problems the average home buyer might overlook. A typical inspection will examine:
The Roof: Are the shingles or roof covering in good condition, or are they showing signs of wear and need repair or replacement?
The Exterior: Is the outside of the house in good shape, or is there a potential for water damage or serious air leakage? Do the windows open and close properly? If not, the house might have settled and is no longer completely square.
The Interior: Are there signs of water damage? Are there signs of poor or dangerous renovations, such as bearing walls removed without proper support for the floors above? Do doors and windows meet the minimum code requirements for safety and security?
The Heating/Air Conditioning System: Is the furnace working properly, or might it need repair? Does the central air system work? Are there potential problems with the ductwork?
The Electrical System: Is the panel safe, and adequate for the house? Is the wiring new and properly installed? Is there aluminum wire?
The Plumbing and Waste Disposal System: Is the plumbing old, or are some materials incompatible? Is there a chance of sewer gas infiltrating the house? If there is a well, does the pump function up to specification, and is the septic system working? Is the hot water heater old and perhaps need attention?
The Basement: Is the basement dry, or are there signs of water leakage?
The Building Structure in General: Are rafters, joists and roof trusses in good condition, or are they sagging or need other repair? Can water penetrate the house through improper window flashings, and perhaps cause mould? Do the hard-wired smoke alarms work?
Remember that this inspection is only visual, and the inspector is not going to tear down drywall or other parts of the structure to see what’s hidden beneath. If snow covers the roof, there is really no way to examine its condition, and the inspector should make this clear from the outset.
Even so, given these limitations, the inspector should be able to spot problems which the average person might not see, and give a general idea about whether the home is a potentially good investment. If there is any doubt about some aspect of the home, the inspector will advise you to consult a qualified contractor. He’ll also give you a binder detailing his observations. Study this binder as it will contain a wealth of information about what can go wrong with any house, and what to look for before it becomes too expensive to fix.
For more information about all of your Real Estate needs contact Joe and tell him you read it here!