Inspection Checklist when buying a home in Toronto
While it is exciting and cause for celebration when a seller accepts your offer to purchase their home, before closing on your home and signing the Agreement and Purchase (APS) documents to officially close on your home, you will need to have a home inspection done and if applicable a property inspection is done first. Home inspections should take at least three hours, so make sure to set aside enough time to do this. You might be reading this article and have questions about what a home inspection is, why is it important, how does this affect me and why should I care?
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What is a home inspection and what do home inspectors do?
First, for the purpose of this article, we will be using the American Society of Home Inspector’s definition of a home inspection, they write “A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.” It is important to remember that a home cannot fail a home inspection since a home inspection consists of a visual examination of a home’s current condition.
A home inspector does not give a pass or fail grade for homes when they are inspecting them, instead of when they are inspecting homes. Home inspectors are tasked with describing a home’s present physical condition and indicating which components, parts, and systems might need major repairs or to be replaced altogether. No matter what the results of a home inspection are, a home cannot pass or fail a home inspection. A home inspection is different than a city or municipal inspection, which determines whether or not a home is complying with local housing and building codes. A home inspection is not an appraisal that determines a home’s market value.
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Why you need to have a home inspection done before buying a new home
While a house might appear to be in amazing shape upon first glance, upon further inspection chances are that there will be things that will need to be repaired. Things that might need to be repaired or dealt with could include issues related to plumbing, electrical, heating and AC systems, potential structural, drainage, or mechanical issues, mould, and/or mildew, etc. A home inspection is really a safety measure since having a great home inspector, who is thorough and meticulous can potentially help you to avoid you encountering nasty surprises and spending thousands in repairs down the road, for deficiencies that a home inspector could have detected. If a home inspector finds major deficiencies, you could always negotiate with your seller to have them fix these deficiencies before you close on the home and move in.
A great home inspector can also discover information about your home, which has the potential to help you avoid dealing with things such as faulty electrical wiring that could be a fire hazard or issues with your heating or electrical system or the presence of drainage issues that could cause mildew and mould. All of these things can be expensive to repair. Mould and mildew can be expensive to get rid of and can cause major health issues if you or a loved one has asthma, allergies, a compromised immune system, etc.
Whether you are looking to buy a newly built or an older existing home, you should always have your potential new home inspected before closing on it.
If you decide that you do not have a home inspection done, you are running the risk of something not working and not being able to negotiate with the seller(s) about your home’s sale price and repairs.
For example, armed with the report from an experienced professional home inspector and the knowledge that an appliance is not working properly, you can be at the negotiating table with the seller and be more empowered to negotiate with them about your home’s sale price and ensure that they make any necessary repairs before you move in. Sellers should be making repairs or working with you to ensure that you are getting necessary the money to address major issues related to safety, a home’s structural integrity, etc. if they are not fixing addressing this before closing and before you move in. If they are having you be responsible for making these repairs, they could be providing you with the necessary funds to conduct these funds. This could be in the form of them giving you the money to fix certain things or lowering the agreed upon sale price for a home so you can pay to make any necessary repairs. With a home inspection, you have two goals: learning what repairs represent serious or safety issues and figuring out whether or not the seller(s) will honour the buyer’s repair request(s).
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Why you should be present at your home inspection
You might be reading this and thinking that a home inspection is a big deal, but wondering why is it so important that I attend this when my real estate agent or broker can attend this for me on my behalf? Everyone has busy schedules, but attending your home inspection is imperative unless, for some reason you cannot be there, you should have your broker and/or real estate agent attending on your behalf and taking detailed notes for you to review. If you are able to attend your home inspection, it is recommended you do this with your broker or real estate agent.
You might think that having your broker or real estate agent accompany you and be present at your home inspection sounds a bit excessive. But consider this, it is possible that you might not understand everything that your home inspector is saying, the terminology they are using, have questions about what’s going on, the process, the home inspector’s findings, how to maintain your home, etc. Your broker or real estate agent will have experience with going on home inspections and dealing with home inspections. They can provide you with support during this process, answer any questions you may have, help you understand what your home inspector is telling you, what is happening, etc. Your real estate agent can also help you to negotiate your offer to the seller based on the deficiencies found in your home and property inspections.
Hiring a home inspector: When to hire one and why you need a professional
In order to do this, you will need to hire a qualified independent, professional home inspector. When hiring a home inspector, you should be hiring someone that is a certified home inspector in the region, state(s), and/or province(s) they are working in if such certification is available. If this is no such certification available for home inspectors wherever you are located, the home inspector you are working with should be a member of the local or national Home Inspector’s trade association.
Normally, one contacts a home inspector before closing on a home or immediately after the
Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) documents have been signed. Ideally, you should contact a home inspector and have them do an inspection of your potential new home before you sign the APS documents. However, you can always negotiate to have your Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) contract to include an inspection clause, which will make your final obligation to purchase the home, contingent upon a professional home inspector’s findings. This contingency clause will lay out the terms and conditions in this agreement which the seller and buyer are obligated to honour.
You will want an independent home inspector doing your home inspection, who is an impartial, third party. You should not be having a friend or family member who is not a professional home inspector, who probably does not know what they are doing, acting as a home inspector and inspecting your home. Having a professional inspect your home, who is not a friend or family member, can help ensure that they know what they are doing so that you have a better chance of the seller(s) honouring your requests. Also, if your friend or family member misses any defects in your home, you will have little to no recourse in the event that this happens. This is not the case if you hire a professional to inspect your home because, in the event that they might have missed any defects or deficiencies in their inspection and/or report, you will have more recourse against them.
While you might be tempted to do a home inspection yourself, it is recommended that you hire an independent, professionally trained home inspector. Even if you consider yourself to be an experienced homeowner, chances are you are not a professional home inspector, so you lack the knowledge, experience, and expertise that a professional has. A professional home inspector will be knowledgeable about the elements of a home’s construction, the proper installation of these elements, proper maintenance, and home safety. Home inspectors understand how a home’s systems and components are meant to work together and why they might fail.
Additionally, it would be difficult for most home buyers to be completely objective and unemotional about the home in question, especially if they have fallen in love with this home, and this might affect their judgment. Therefore, in order to obtain accurate information, you should hire an independent home inspector, who can provide their impartial opinion in this scenario as a third party. Plus, sellers will not accept the opinion of a non-professional home inspector when you are negotiating with them.
It is also important to remember that sellers will probably not be willing to seriously negotiate with you, the buyer until they have received a copy of the home inspection report. You might be wondering why this is the case since it is too early for them to consider negotiating with you before they can review the home inspector’s report and your repair report. Additionally, sellers tend to be more willing to negotiate with buyers who see other deficiencies (i.e. things that might not be working and/or need to be repaired) in the report that the buyer did not make any repair requests for.
After reading this guide, you should hopefully feel more empowered and ready to go into your home inspection after the seller accepts your initial offer. It is important to remember that the system is not perfect and even if you have the best home inspector inspecting your home, they are human after all and they might miss things. The seller(s) might fail to disclose defects in your new home during the sales process or your inspector might miss these defects. However, doing a home inspection is an incredibly important step in the home buying process. There are things that you can do as a home buyer, before the home inspection process, and during the home inspection process to help protect yourself as the buyer and future owner of this home.
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What to expect at your home inspection?
Home inspections are a big deal, you, the home inspector, and your real estate agent or broker will be looking at a lot of things when you are inspecting your potential new home. This section includes a breakdown of what standard home inspections include and what standard home inspections do not typically include. This is followed by a guide and checklist of things to consider and examine as you go through the home inspection process.
What does your standard, general home inspection typically include?
A standard home inspection and a general home inspector’s report usually covers the visual condition for the interior and exterior for a home and the property it is located on. A standard home inspection and a standard home inspector’s report should cover the following: home’s exterior condition, it’s structural integrity, whether or not the appliances work, the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems do they work and what conditions they are in since they will be tested depending on the time of year and temperature. They will also check the interior plumbing, the home’s electrical systems, the roof, attic and visible insulation, ceilings, walls, floors, windows, and doors, the foundation, basement, crawl spaces, interior and exterior drainage, structural, and safety components.
What is not typically included in a standard, general home inspections?
It is important to remember that home inspections differ from city to city, province to province, and country to country. What your home inspection may look and be like, will depend on who is inspecting your home, the procedures they follow set out by the organization and/or licensing bodies they are a part of. However, given this lack of continuity, there are some standard items that are not typically included in your general, standard home inspected.
Most general home inspectors do not check for asbestos, radon, methane, radiation, wood-destroying organisms, mould, mildew and fungi, pests, rodents, or lead. Additionally, if you want more in-depth information about your roofs, such as a roof certification from the roofing company or a guarantee about the condition the roof is in this is something separate. Most general home inspectors also do not inspect sewer systems, septic systems, or waste systems.
Although, if you are looking to buy an older home, it is recommended that you pay for sewer inspection and for a roof inspection. A sewer inspection might cost you approximately $325 and can provide you with valuable information about the pipes used in your house, i.e. if they are older and might need to be replaced. Home inspections do not usually include property beyond looking at spots in the yard or garden which may have drainage issues or grading issues. If you need your property to be surveyed, you will need to hire a different specialist for this.
It is important to keep all of the things that are not covered by general home inspections in mind since in some places people need specific licenses to inspect and identify any of these issues. While some general home inspectors might have the credentials and expertise to inspect some of these things beyond your regular, general, home inspection, if you need more information, chances are you will be hiring more people to learn more information about your potential new home and the condition that it is in, so be prepared for this. This is especially true with older homes since their HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems might need updating to prevent any future issues and to ensure that they are up to code.
Home Inspection Checklist when buying a home in Toronto
When doing a home inspection, you will first need to consider the broad strokes and larger picture details for the home. That is being inspected. You will want to take note of the area the home is located in. You will specifically be looking to see if there are any other homes that appear to have been built around the same time as the home in question and details related to their construction elements and details that are similar to the home that is being inspected. This information is important since this comparison can provide some insight into possibly how well maintained the home that is being inspected might be. When looking at the home in question, you will want to see if there were significant modifications for the dwelling’s exterior and if there were, how is the quality of the workmanship?
When doing a home inspection, first you will look at the home’s exterior including the lawn, garden, and yard as applicable, considering the building it is in, inspecting the home’s exterior before moving inside and inspecting the home’s interior. The following guide begins with instructions on how you should move around when doing this in order to look at and take note of certain things followed by a list of things you should be observing and having you answer questions based on the condition for each item and whether or not if it is as, as is applicable for certain items such as appliances.
When doing an exterior inspection, you will start at the exterior front of the home, working your way around the home’s exterior, moving in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, at enough of a distance which will allow you to comfortably and easily view the complete face of a home. When you are at a given face of the home (front, sides, back) you will begin examining the home, beginning at the top of the structure, and working your way down towards the ground the lot area (the land upon which the home is built).
For example, if you are standing to look at the front face of the home, you would be looking at the roof, fascia (vertical overhang for a roof), soffits/eaves (the material that forms a ceiling from a house’s exterior wall to the outer edge of the roof), gutters, and if applicable the chimney. As your gaze moves down the exterior of the home you would notice the exterior wall coverings for example, (stone, wood, and aluminum), noting the presence, of windows, doors, etc. You would be looking around for any patios, terraces, and/or decks all the way down to the home’s foundation and the grade and slope of the lot’s area. You would be noting the presence of any flower beds, shrubs, walkways, driveways, etc. Then you would begin to walk closer to the home and examining anything that caught your attention. After you do this for the front of the house, you would do the same thing for the rest of the house in question, going from the top of the house to the bottom, for the sides and back of the house.
Here you will want to check and see if you if there is any damaged or missing siding, cracks. You will want to see if the soil is too close to the bottom of the house because this has the potential to attract wood-destroying insects. If you are concerned about wood-destroying insects such as termites, you will need to engage the services of a pest inspector who look and see if there is any real damage from insects such as termites. A pest inspector can tell you which problems are aesthetic and which problems are more serious.
If the foundation is not visible for the exterior of a house and this is usually the case, the inspector won’t be able to directly check the foundation. However, they will be able to look for secondary evidence of foundation issues such as cracks or settling.
Your home inspector will let you know whether or not if there is a grading slope if it is sloping away from your home, as it should or towards your home. If a grading slope is sloping towards your home this means that water could get into your house and cause water damage. If you have a grading slope, sloping towards your house this would mean that you need to change how your yard slopes or install a drainage system so water does not get into your house.
Garage or carport (if applicable)
If there is a garage or carport attached to or adjacent to the home, your home inspector will examine it, looking for areas where roof damage or poor installation might allow for water to enter the home. Loose, missing or improperly secured shingles or cracked mastic around the vents might allow water to get into the home. They will also be examining the gutters.
Specifically, for garages, these should be inspected for the slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, garage door openers, receptacles, the garage’s exterior, the garage’s windows, and the garage’s roof. Your home inspector will be checking to see whether or not the garage has a firewall and if the door from the garage to the house has self-closing hinges.
If the garage in question is attached to the home, it is possible that a pest inspection specialist might need to come to inspect it depending on the type of loan you might be getting.
Roof, Attic, and Chimney(s) (if applicable)
When expecting the roof home inspectors will be looking for any shingles or roof coverings that are missing or are showing signs of deterioration or damage. If you find that the elements underneath the roof shingles are moist or rotted, you will need to request repairs. Depending on where you are, you might be required to have a separate roof certification done. You will need to be sure that the flashing around the base of the chimney if there is a chimney that is watertight, and the bricks or stones and mortar are in good condition.
You should have the fireplace inspected to see if it is in good working order, functioning normally. You might need a separate chimney inspector to see if it is working and if the fireplace(s) is/are in good working order. And you should make sure that your home inspector is checking the chimney to see whether or not it is structurally sound.
It is common for roofs and attics to be inspected to evaluate their framing, ventilation, the type of roof construction, flashing, and gutters. However, having a home inspector up on the roof checking the roof does not mean that you will be getting a guarantee of roof condition or roof certification. You will want to find out how many layers are up on the roof and when the roof will need to be replaced? You need to figure out what the average lifespan of a roof is. Your home inspector will want to check the attic’s structural integrity, for ventilation and find out whether or not there were any fires in this home.
Exterior Water Drainage and Water Disbursement
Surprisingly, one of the most significant issues any home will face is how water is disbursed because if the water is not disbursed properly, it could damage a home’s foundation. If you find any water near the house, you will want this water to be flowing away from the house, not towards the house.
Your home inspector should take the time to check the gutters and downspouts to see whether or not they are working properly since if they are not doing their job this can damage the foundation. Water, fire, and smoke all have the potential to seriously damage your home.
Waste Systems as applicable
If you have an older home and/or are located in a rural area you might need a special inspector who specializes in inspecting waste systems, such as septic systems to help you determine whether or not it is in good working order.
Porches, Decks, and Patios
Your home inspector should check if your porch or deck is structurally sound, i.e. no cracks in the foundation, rot, pests destroying the wood for the deck or porch or anything else that could pose a safety hazard. The inspector will be making sure the porch, deck, and/or patio is in good condition and that the masonry for the patio is in good shape, i.e. no cracking or flaking masonry, no issues with paint and that it does not present any safety or other hazards.
Your home inspector will be checking your porch and check for any rotted wood and/or wood-earth contact. They will be looking to see any settlement or separation from the house and if possible they will be inspecting the underside of the porch and deck.
Yard/Garden as applicable
You should be checking here for any moist spots and to ensure that this area is in good condition. They do not want to find an overly moist yard if it has rained recently since this could be a sign of a bigger problem.
When examining wall coverings, you should be on the lookout for any missing mortar, whether or not any of the bricks are showing signs of flaking or cracking. You should be checking for loose, missing, or rotten siding or deteriorated paint. You will want to ascertain whether or not the siding appears to be new and if it is doing its job of hiding the foundation? Finally, do any of the exterior walls appear to be bowed, bulged or leaning?
When inspecting the home’s interior, you will begin by inspecting the basement. You should move in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise pattern, moving from room to room so you are not missing any rooms. If you see any doors, you open them and see what they reveal. When doing interior inspections, you will be examining the floor, moving upward to examine the walls, and finally the ceiling.
If you are in a utility room or in an unfinished basement, you would first examine the floor, and then the walls, keeping in mind that it might be possible for you to see the foundation walls here, then the ceiling, since the floor joists might be visible. You will then go to examine the furnace, hot water heater, electrical circuits, plumbing system, etc. When you are inspecting the floors, walls, and ceiling, you should be scanning the entire area instead of just one area.
When you are finished rooms in the house you should be noticing the floors, walls, windows, and ceilings. Then you will see heat sources, electrical outlets, electrical outlets, fireplaces, closets, etc. If you are in a bathroom or kitchen take note of the floor, ceiling, walls, and plumbing fixtures, you should take care to turn these appliances and faucets in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room on to see if they are in good condition and working properly.
When looking for plumbing issues you should identify what materials were used to create the different pipes for each purpose, potable water, drain water, wastewater, and venting pipes, as well as what condition these pipes are in. It is important to remember that for a standard home inspection, toilets, sinks, showers, bathtubs, faucets, and traps will be inspected, but not sewers since this is a separate inspection. You should turn all of these plumbing fixtures on and let them run, to see if they are in good working order and how the water pressure is. You should inquire as to whether or not these pipes are copper pipes and remember to be careful with faulty plumbing joints that might occur with Kitec plumbing.
At this time, water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimneys, fireplaces, and sprinklers, should all be inspected, and the inspector should be checking to see whether or not they are operating correctly and are in good working order. If your inspector thinks that there might be a chimney problem, they will probably suggest that you have a chimney inspector come check out the chimney.
The inspection of the home’s electrical system includes an examination of the main electrical panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, and grounding, seeing how exhaust fans, receptacles, switches, outlets, ceiling fans, and light fixtures are working. They want to ascertain whether or not the electrical panel is up to code or if it was previously recalled. They are looking to figure out whether or not the electrical system uses fuses or breakers. Breakers are more current, and fuses are now considered outdated.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition System (HVAC)
Your home inspector should examine the home’s HVAC system to try to estimate how old the furnace and air conditioner are, figure out whether or not they are functioning properly, and they can recommend any needed maintenance or repairs. Your home inspector can provide an estimate for the age of the home’s duct system, whether or not it is working properly, if it has any leaks, whether or not the home has sufficient insulation to minimize your heating and air conditioning bills, and whether or not there is any insulation with asbestos.
Your home inspector will also examine your water heater, estimating its age and figuring out whether or not it has been properly secured and installed. Your home inspector can help you gain an idea of what condition the water heater is in and how more years it may have left.
In some cases, home inspectors are known to check the kitchen appliances that come with a home to see whether or not they are in good condition, working properly, and are in good working order. However, a check of the kitchen appliances is not always a part of a standard home inspection. If you are interested in keeping the kitchen appliances that come with a home, make sure that you ask which appliances are included and which appliances are not included with the home, so you can test the kitchen appliances which are included for yourself.
In this case, when appliances are inspected, the dishwasher, range for the stove and oven, built-in-microwave, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors are tested. Washers and dryers are generally included if they are remaining with the home. If you are curious, make sure to ask, since these appliances are considered to be the owner’s personal property and the owner(s) might take them with them when they move.
With regards to the laundry room, the home inspector will make sure that the laundry room is appropriately ventilated since an improperly maintained dryer-exhaust system can present a serious fire hazard.
In the case that the home has an attached garage, the inspector will make sure that the garage wall has an appropriate fire rating and that is not has been damaged in such a way that might lower its fire rating. If they have not already done so, the home inspector will be testing all of the home’s smoke detectors.
When checking the bathrooms your home inspector will be looking to see if they see any visible leaks, adequate ventilation, and whether or not the toilets have been properly secured. It is important for bathrooms to have adequate ventilation since if a bathroom does not have a window or a ventilation fan, there is the potential for mould and mildew to present some serious problems, and the moisture in here has the potential to over time warp wooden cabinets.
While this might not apply to the home being inspected, it is important for a home inspector to ascertain whether or not there might be lead paint in a home. Lead paint is a problem specific to older homes especially when you are replacing older windows. When there are older metal windows in a home, there is a potential for lead and/or lead paint. If a home inspector believes there might be lead in the windows or lead paint, they will recommend that you work with a lead paint testing company for your own safety.
Interior Water Drainage and Disbursement
While you can usually spot external water damage with a visual inspection, it can be harder to detect any potential water damage hidden within a home’s walls. You should make sure that your home inspector takes extra care and uses an infrared camera to see if there is any potential water damage within your home’s walls or beneath your home’s surface. This can help you to avoid having any water damage that could damage your home and create an environment where mould and/or mildew could grow inside your home, within the walls.
A home inspector will take note of the flooring quality and type(s) of flooring in any home they are inspecting especially as it relates to wood destroying insects such as carpenter bees, carpenter ants, powder-post, beetles, and termites.
While inspectors will complete a standard inspection of the visible flooring, it is important to remember that subfloors that are covered by carpet, tile, and/or laminate have the potential to cause more unforeseen issues if they are not carefully examined. You can walk on these floors, using your feet to detect any soft spots in the subfloor where the wood feels weak. Or if you can smell any mouldy or musty odours coming from the floor, this might indicate wood rot in the subfloor(s). You might need to hire a floor covering the inspector if you detect any problems in the subfloor.
While testing for radon is not part of a general, standard, home inspection, it is recommended that you test for Radon gas. Radon is an odourless, colourless, and tasteless gas that happens to carcinogenic and radioactive and it is recommended that all homes are tested for the presence of Radon. It is not uncommon for people selling their homes to test for Radon gas before putting their home on the market, so you can ask the seller to provide any recent Radon test results. If this is not the case, testing for radon is not a hard thing to do, you can buy a reasonably priced test and your test results for radon usually are processed relatively quickly.
Windows and Doors
When a home inspector is examining a home’s doors and windows, they are looking for any problems with paint of caulking and any components that suggest rotten wood. They are trying to ascertain if the windows in the home are old or new, and if they are older, are the original windows? And they are they trying to figure out how old the windows are.
If you are looking at a home built before 1980, you should inquire if your home inspector has enough experience working with asbestos to see if they can reasonably determine through visual inspection whether or not asbestos fibres are present.
For those reading this and wondering what Asbestos is and why it is important, Asbestos until 1980 was used as insulation in construction, but it was later discovered that Asbestos is dangerous for humans. If Asbestos is left undisturbed it might not pose a threat to your health but it is recommended that if there is Asbestos in a structure that you have a special company come to remove all traces of it before you move in. Asbestos can be found in many places such as insulation, interior heating pipes, and exterior shingles.
Basements and crawl spaces
When inspecting basements and crawl spaces the smell of mildew or mould can indicate that a basement or crawl space is too damp. You and your home inspector will want to closely examine the walls and floors in basements and crawl spaces for any signs of dampness, patches of mildew, and evidence of water penetration such as water stains, mildew or musty odours, efflorescence, loose tiles, etc.
In fact, your home inspector might use a meter to help them figure how much moisture is present in these spaces since moisture breaks down building materials and attracts insects and pests. Exposed earth present in crawl spaces and basements should be covered with plastic to ensure that moisture levels stay down. Many foundation ‘leaks’ results from poor drainage which sends water to the home’s foundation, instead of sending water away from the home.
When examining ceilings, you should be looking for any cracks in the plaster or loose sagging plaster. You should also be on the lookout for stains, mechanical damage, and/or evidence of previous repair(s), and whether or not seams or nails are showing?
Things to consider
How much will your home inspection cost?
The cost for hiring a home inspector will depend on the following factors: the type of dwelling being inspected i.e. detached single family home, condo, apartment, townhouse, etc., where you are located geographically, and the cost of living. In a given area, a home inspector’s fee varies based on a number of factors, such as the size of the home, it’s age, and any optional services you are having them do, such as septic testing, well testing, or radon testing.
In this situation, cost should ideally not be a determining factor related to whether or not you decide to hire a home inspector and choosing a home inspector. It might seem expensive to hire a professional, but the knowledge, information, and sense of security you are gaining from having an experienced professional inspect your potential new home might help to provide you peace of mind. Hiring an experienced professional might also help you to save money down the road.
It is important to remember that the home inspector whose services are most economical when compared to others’ does not mean this is a great deal or an indication of the quality of their work, their experience, knowledge, training, etc. When choosing a home inspector, you can ask your real estate agent for recommendations and also consider their experience, training, expertise, and compliance with any provincial regulations and if memberships in professional associations as a jumping off point when hiring a home inspector.
On average the cost for a home inspector’s services is approximately $325. However, how much you will end up paying a home inspector when you are hiring them to inspect your potential new home may be different depending on a number of different factors. You can expect to pay anywhere from $275 to $500 or even more depending on whether or not you are paying for a professional to do additional inspections. This number could be even higher if a general home inspector’s findings mean that you need to hire more specialized inspectors to come in and inspect your home and/or property. Before hiring a home inspector, you should ask them for an estimate for how much they charge.
Home inspections should not be the only factor determining your decision to buy a home
It is important to remember that a home inspection and its results should not be the be all and end all reason that you decide to buy a home. Home inspections can be helpful since they help you gain insight into what your future owning a certain might involve and might look like. Home inspections can help you figure out whether a house has some good bones but might need some renovations and updates or whether it is not worth your investment of time, money, and energy. The results from a home inspection can be helpful in that you can hopefully avoid buying a money pit, that sucks, your time, energy, emotions, etc. Home inspections are only one important part of the home purchase process.
No home no matter how great a home looks, it is not without some issues
No home is absolutely perfect without issues, on paper or in person a home might look amazing, but chances are it will still have its problems. If newly built homes will have some things which will need to be fixed. Even if your home is in good condition, you did not waste your money on a home inspection, and you can purchase your home with some peace of mind knowing that your home is in good shape. And no matter the home inspection results you will have learned about your home and you can refer back to your home inspector’s report in the future as needed.
Home inspections are not meant to fix everything that is wrong with a home
Home inspections are not meant for you to find out everything that is wrong with a home and have the seller fix every single issue. It is unreasonable to expect the seller to be willing to fix every single deficiency since some deficiencies you can probably fix yourself. You and the seller might be able to negotiate on having them fix some of the deficiencies, this is normal and expected. Sellers should be fixing major issues related to your safety, a home’s structural integrity, or mould not little things you can have fixed.
Unless you are buying a newly built home from a builder or developer do not nitpicky about the little things. When negotiating with the seller you should be focusing on having them address major issues and anything related to safety and the home’s structural integrity. Do not make any repair requests for things that you could have easily discovered upon your initial inspection such as uneven floors or a bad paint job. If you do this you are running the risk of frustrating the seller, since you could have asked for these items to be fixed in your initial purchase offer. It is not uncommon in seller’s markets to have sellers reject all of the buyer’s repair requests.
Savvy buyers may ask the seller to pay for a home warranty, which will cover any major defects in the home for a year, providing you with some peace of mind during your first year of home ownership. If you learn through a home inspection that a home has foundation issues or a basement that has a tendency of flooding, you might want to reconsider buying this home.
What happens when you find deficiencies in your home inspection report?
It is important to remember that every home has its problems and it is the home inspector’s job to identify problems and deficiencies in your home. Just because your home inspector found some problems does not mean that you should buy this house since this report is a way for you to gain some insight into what potential problems in your home might look like. This information can be especially useful if your budget for doing repairs on your new home is limited or you do not want to have to do any major repairs for your new home. You might be lucky in that if any major issues are found, it is possible that the seller(s) might be willing to make repairs.
Your real estate agent is an ideal position to advise you in this situation about negotiating with the seller about making repairs for your potential new home. Your real estate agent can help you decide whether or not it would be better for you to ask the seller to provide you cash credit for an item being repaired instead of having the seller to repair or replace an item. The logic behind this is that the seller might not have a vested interest in their home once it has been sold, so they might hire the best contractor to do these repairs or have the repairs done in a way that satisfies you. However, before you ask for a cash credit to make any repairs on your home, you will need to check with your lender to see if a cash credit in this situation is allowed
Special Information about home inspections and warranties for people buying Pre-Construction homes
Special note for anyone buying a home in the pre-construction phase, whether it’s a house, condo, townhouse, etc. as mentioned previously, you should have your home inspected once before closing and then you should have it inspected a second time approximately a month before your warranty is set to expire.
This first home inspection is mandatory all newly built homes that are covered under a warranty from the builder or developer who built them. This first home inspection will happen with your builder and hopefully your real estate agent or broker sometime shortly before the house is delivered to you, before you sign the Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) documents to officially close on and officially purchase your home.
During the first home inspection, your real estate agent should be here with you to help you understand what is going on, answering any questions you have about this transaction, helping you ask your builder any questions you may have for them and/or any questions you have for the home inspector. During this first home inspection before your home is delivered to you, you and your real estate or broker will be figuring out whether or not the builder or developer who built your home has lived up to the promises they agreed to fulfill, that were set out in the original purchase agreement documents you signed to begin the purchase process for your pre-construction home. At this time, if you find that there are any deficiencies (structural issues, appliances not working, mechanical issues, etc.) you will write them down on a list and your builder or developer will sign off on this list. If the deficiencies discovered during this inspection are not written down on this list and the builder does not sign off on this list, your builder/developer will not be obligated to fix these deficiencies.
As mentioned previously, the second home inspection for newly built homes covered under a warranty should happen approximately one month before your home warranty is set to expire. It is important that your home has been through all four seasons, to help ensure that enough time would have passed for any large defects from settling or cracks to have appeared.
It is important to keep in mind that for warranty claims, there are different deadlines for different warranties. For example, the warranty deadline for your windows vs. the warranty deadline for some of your appliances might be different, so make sure to write down the dates for these warranty deadlines on your calendar and do your best to submit any warranty claims, at least five to six days before the warranty deadline is set to expire.
As a new homeowner in this situation, it is your job to ensure that your warranty is valid. This means for example if you change your furnace filter and claim heating deficiencies or you clean your gutters and claim water penetration into your basement, this should be noted. Before closing on your home, your builder should leave you with copies of all of the warranties for the components used to build your home, and information to contact the manufacturers who created the components and products used to build your house if necessary. If you have any questions about these warranties, you should make sure to ask your builder and/or real estate agent and make sure they answer your questions in a manner you can understand, so you will walk away with a solid understanding of how the warranties work for all of the components of your house.
The warranty issue is important for newly built homes since many newly built homes especially in Canada come with a warranty from the builder, but not all warranties are the same and not all warranties are as good as others. In certain provinces in Canada, such as British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario, all newly built homes come with mandatory warranty coverage for all newly built homes. However, this legally mandated warranty coverage for newly built homes is not the case for newly built homes in other provinces in Canada.
In other Canadian provinces, builders might try to convince buyers to opt-out of this warranty coverage, under the pretense of telling buyers that if they choose to opt out of this warranty coverage, they (the builders) are saving buyers from paying for warranty registration fees. Do not fall for this line since you should not be paying a fee to register your warranty. As with any warranty whether it is for your home, the products, and components used to build your home, your vehicle, your electronics, etc. you should definitely take the time to figure out how the warranty works, what is covered under the warranty, what is not covered under the warranty, and how long the warranty is supposed to last.
Special Considerations for people buying apartments, condos and coops
When you are looking to purchase an apartment, condo, or coop in a larger multistory, multi-dwelling structure, especially in a high-rise, this means you and your home inspector will be looking for different things than you would be if you were looking to purchase a single-family home or a two-family home.
For example, if you are purchasing an apartment, coop, and condo, you will need to be considering your liability more so than if you were purchasing a single family home and what will happen to you financially if something happens in your building or in the coop? You might be wondering how this is related to a home inspection.
When considering the liability factors if you are purchasing a unit in a multi-unit dwelling, you are looking things beyond your unit, there will be at least one or even multiple buildings that you should be concerned about. Ideally, your attorney should do their best to predict if anything that might happen in the future might end up costing you money. You, your attorney, and possibly your real estate agent should speak with whoever is charged with managing the coop or complex and see if they can get minutes and notes from previous condo association or co-op board meetings. It is important that you read the notes from previous condo association or co-op board meetings so you can figure out what things might need to be repaired or replaced in the future and when that might be.
Some of the things which might need to be repaired or replaced could include different things such as the roof, replacing a boiler, laundry machines, and/or elevator equipment. Having any and/or all of these items repaired or replaced will probably cost you in one way or another, you might be paying a permanent maintenance increase as part of your coop or condo association fees or a temporary assessment.
During your inspection, you should spend some time thoroughly looking around and inspecting the unit. During this time, you will be making sure that the seller has not failed to disclose any potential problems that they might have or might not have known about. You will want to walk through and check to see whether or not all of the appliances, outlets, circuit breakers, lights, faucets, etc. are in good condition and in good working order.
It is recommended if you can on the day that you are closing on this unit before signing the papers to purchase the unit, that you do one last walkthrough. During this last walkthrough, you will want to make sure that everything is in good working order and something dramatic did not happen like the unit upstairs did not flood before you have closed on your unit.
While it might seem expensive and excessive to hire a home inspector before you purchase a new home when it’s all said and done, chances are that you will be happy that you spent the time, money, and energy to bring in an experienced professional to inspect your home. A home inspection might help you discover problems that the seller(s) can fix before you close on your new home and move in or prevent you from unwittingly buying an unsafe home or a home that will end costing you more money than you could have ever imagined. A home inspection is an important part of the purchase process for newly built and existing homes.
Having a home inspection and being present at a home inspection can be a great learning experience for first-time homebuyers and first-time homeowners since it can provide you with the opportunity to learn about home safety, maintenance, and upkeep from an experienced professional. You can use your time with the home inspector to learn about the measures you can take to ensure that your home is as safe and secure as possible. No matter what the results of your home inspection end up being, this has the potential to save you time, money, and unexpected nasty surprises, while providing you peace of mind.
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