The Importance of Doing a Home Inspection

The Importance of Doing a Home Inspection

Justo Team | September 25, 2019

Buying a home is incredibly exciting and definitely a time when you will probably want to be celebrating. Buying a home is a time to celebrate whether you are celebrating seeing the return for your hard work and making it to the point where you can afford to buy a home and be in the process of buying a home or you are buying an additional home. 

HOWEVER, before you as the expression goes for the board game, Monopoly, pass “Go” and collect your $200, close on your home, you NEED to have a home inspection done before you close on your home.

You might be reading this article and wondering why do I need to spend additional money and time worrying about a home inspection when I am already spending a significant amount of money to buy a home, time, and energy trying to manage all of the logistics and things that are in motion when buying a home and moving? If this is you, then this article is for you.

 In this article, we will be covering the following: what a home inspection is, why you need to hire a trained professional home inspector to inspect your home,  why it is important to have your home inspected, what to expect from a standard home inspection, and why you should have a home inspection done.

Additionally, we will provide information on how much you can expect to pay to have your home professionally inspected, important considerations for home inspections, and what happens when your home inspector indicates that there are deficiencies with your home.

Finally, we are including information specifically related to home inspections and warranties for people buying pre-construction homes in Canada and information specifically related to home inspections for anyone looking to buy an apartment, condo, or coop in Canada.

What is a home inspection and what do home inspectors do exactly?

The American Society of Home Inspectors defines a home inspection as “an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.” It is important that you know that a home cannot technically pass or fail a home inspection.

When a home inspector is inspecting a home, they are not giving homes a grade that signifies that a home has passed or failed inspection. A home inspection technically only consists of a visual examination of the home’s current condition.

When a professional home inspector is inspecting a home, they are tasked with writing a report that helps describes a home’s present condition. Home inspectors in their report are explaining what type of physical condition the home in question is in and indicating which components, parts, and systems, might need repairs–small or large or whether or not any components, parts, and/or systems should be replaced altogether. 

A home inspection is different from a city or municipal inspection, which will determine whether or not a home is currently complying with local housing and building codes. Also, you must know that a home inspection is not an appraisal [Differences Between a Home Appraisal and a Current Market Assessment in Ontario] or a current market assessment which would help you to determine your home’s fair market value.

Why home inspections are important and why you need to have a home inspection done before you buy a new home

Home inspections are important for a myriad of reasons, but this cannot be said enough, no home is perfect. This means that a home could be recently built or existing home and everything appears great to the untrained eye, but there will be things that need to be repaired or replaced. You might only need to make small repairs, but nothing is perfect.

Some of the systems or components that might need to be repaired in your home might be your plumbing, electrical wiring, heating, and AC systems. You might learn that upon further inspection that your home has structural issues, drainage or mechanical issues, it might even have mould, mildew, etc. These all can be expensive to repair and not repairing these before they become an issue could be extremely expensive down the road.

Having your home inspected by an experienced, professional home inspector really is for your safety. A home inspection is meant to help you uncover deficiencies, areas, parts, systems, or components or your home that are not performing as well as they should before you officially buy a home.

The last thing you want to happen is for you to have bought a home without having a home inspection done and once there is no going back, you learn that your home has a significant problem that will be costly for you to fix. You should always have a home inspected before you officially close on your home, whether you are buying a newly built home or an older existing home.

A home inspection is meant to help you uncover potential problems your home might have before you have officially bought your home, e.g. help you avoid buying a home that is unsafe for you to live in because there is black mould, structural issues, faulty, outdated electrical wiring, etc.

This cannot be stated enough, a home inspection is not meant to address every single problem in a home. When you learn about deficiencies in your home you will need to pick and choose which are the most important to negotiate over with the seller(s). 

This means if you learn that the electrical wiring in a home is out of date and a fire hazard, you need to figure out whether or not to negotiate with the seller to have them bring in a professional to fix this and make your home safe or have them give you the money to do this.

On the other hand, for example, if you have an issue with paint colours and wish they were different, this is not something you should be negotiating with the seller over. This is not something from a home inspector’s report you should be negotiating with the seller over. 

A great home inspector, who is meticulous and takes their time to do a thorough inspection and craft a comprehensive report could potentially save you thousands of dollars and a variety of headaches.

The information you are gaining from a home inspector’s report can help you avoid an unexpectedly expensive surprise later. As the saying goes, knowledge is power and the more you know about your potential home, the condition it is in, its quirks, etc. the better prepared you will be to become a homeowner. 

Let’s be honest, ideally, you should want to spend the time and money to have your home inspected, and gain insight into what some of the potential problems you might face are now. Or you run the risk of later learning that you will need to tap into your rainy day fund to cover the cost of a repair that could have been avoided if you would have had a home inspection done.

In this scenario, you probably would want to be like the person who decided to have their home inspected and learned about potential issues with their home. In the first scenario, if you had the inspection done and were armed with this information, you might have been able to better anticipate and budget for the costs of potential upcoming repairs or avoid having to pay to have this problem fixed altogether if these deficiencies were fixed before you even moved in.

Another reason for doing a home inspection in addition to everything already mentioned, having a home inspector’s report will help you to more effectively negotiate with the seller(s). For example, if there are major deficiencies uncovered by your home inspection, you can use this information to negotiate with the seller(s) to have them fix them before you move in, lower the home’s final sale price to cover the cost of fixing this or give you the money to fix these deficiencies. 

A home inspection and home inspector’s report can uncover problems that can be a pain and expensive to repair such as faulty electrical wiring that could be a fire hazard, issues with your HVAC (Heating and Air Conditioning) system, or the existence of drainage issues leading to mild and mould. Hiring professionals to deal with mould and mildew in your home can be expensive and ridding your home of mould can be an involved process. Additionally, the presence of mould and/or mildew can exacerbate cause or cause major health issues if you or a loved one has asthma, allergies, a compromised immune system, etc.

For example, if a home inspector uncovered the existence of mould (this could happen in an older, existing home or newly built home), you can alert the seller(s) to the existence of mould. You could negotiate with the seller, so the seller is paying to have professionals come and address this issue.

Or you could negotiate with the seller to have them give you the money so you can hire professionals to come to address this or give you a discount on your home’s sale price equal to the amount of money needed to have professionals come and fix the mould issue.

When reviewing a report from a home inspector, you should be looking for major deficiencies that could be expensive to repair, as well as anything related to a home’s safety, structural integrity, etc. You should negotiate and work with the seller to ensure that they are fixing any important deficiencies before closing, or you are getting whatever money needed to address any significant issues related to a home’s safety, structural integrity, etc. 

If you have negotiated with the seller and they are giving you the money necessary to make these repairs, they could be giving you the money to fix these issues or lowering the previously agreed-upon sale price for your home so you can use the difference in price to fix these deficiencies.

It might be better for you to get money or discount from the seller to fix these issues because you will be responsible for fixing these issues and can hire professionals who you trust to make repairs instead trusting someone who might a stranger to decide who will make repairs and what constitutes something being fixed.

You have two goals when you are having your home inspected and submitting repair requests to the seller. First, you will be figuring out which repairs represent serious issues or safety issues for the seller and whether or not the seller(s) will honour your repair requests as a buyer.

Hiring a home inspector: When you might need to hire one

There are two instances when you might consider hiring a home inspector. In the first instance, you might hire a home inspector if you are looking to buy a home.

However, in the second instance, you might even consider hiring a home inspector if you are considering selling your home before you even list your home for sale. Yes, the first instance, when you are looking to buy a home is when most people typically hire home inspectors.

However, if you are looking to sell your home, you might benefit from hiring a home inspector before listing your home because a home inspection can help you learn whether or not there are any major deficiencies for any major systems, components, or parts of your home.

Getting your home inspected before you list your home can help you to see what you can expect for potential repair requests from a potential buyer. And armed with this information, you will know if anything major needs to be replaced or repaired and can repair or replace things before listing your home. 

If you are buying a home, you would normally contract a professional home inspector before you officially close on a home or immediately after signing the Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) documents.

In an ideal world, you would hire a home inspector to inspect your new home before signing the Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) documents. But you can always negotiate to include a clause in the Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) documents for your new home, that will include a contingency for a home inspection, meaning your purchase of the home will in part be contingent upon receiving and reviewing a report from a home inspector. This contingency clause will describe the terms and conditions of the APS agreement which both the seller and buyer are legally mandated to honour.

In the second instance, you might consider having your home inspected before listing your home for sale. For example, if you have a home inspection before you list your home and learn you need to repair or replace your HVAC system or repair faulty wiring, you have the opportunity to deal with this before you even list your home.

And addressing these significant deficiencies might make it easier for you to sell your home and this way you might be able to avoid having to give potential buyers a discount on the final sale price of your home to address any deficiencies that were uncovered during a routine home inspection. [What are some negotiation tactics you can use to sell your home?]

Knowledge is power whether you are looking to buy or sell your home or negotiate with others, the more you know about a home whether you are selling or buying it, the more empowered you will be to make better decisions when negotiating.

Hiring a home inspector: Why you need to hire an experienced, licensed or certified professional home inspector and what to look for when hiring a home inspector 

When working with a home inspector, you should be hiring a qualified, independent, professional home inspector. You should be looking to hire 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 there is no certification available for home inspectors in your area or region, the home inspector you are working with should be a member of the local or national home inspector’s trade association.

Maybe you have a friend, family member, colleague, etc. who works in construction or something related to home inspection who offers to give you a free home inspection to help you to reduce your costs. However, you want an independent, professional home inspector, an impartial, third party doing your home inspection. You might be reading this and wondering why?

First, you need to have a professional who knows what they are doing. Chances are your colleague, friend, family, etc. might not know what they are doing if they are not a professional home inspector. It is recommended to have an independent professional inspect your home to ensure that the seller is more likely to honour your repair requests.

Additionally, if you have someone who is not a professional who misses any defects in your home, you will legally have little to no recourse if this happens. If you hire a professional, you will have more recourse in the event that they miss any defects or deficiencies in their inspection and/or their report.

It cannot be said enough that if you need to have your home inspected, even if you are a professional home inspector, you need to have an independent, impartial third party inspect your home. Even if you see yourself as experienced you will not have the knowledge, experience, and expertise that a professional would have. And sellers will not accept the opinions, findings, or report from someone who is not a licensed or certified home inspector when negotiating over the terms of the sale of their home.

Additionally, a professional home inspector’s job is to be knowledgeable about the elements of a home’s construction, the proper installation of these elements, proper maintenance, and home safety. They understand how a home’s systems and components are meant to and designed work together, how and why they might fail. 

Even if you are a professional home inspector you will need to hire an impartial third party to inspect your own home because it would be difficult or maybe even impossible for you as a buyer to completely objective and unemotional about your potential new home.

You cannot be objective and would have difficulty not being emotional if you have fallen in love with a home and this would probably affect your judgment. Something to consider is, for example, is that surgeons are never allowed to operate on loved ones because of ethical reasons. The same logic applies here for home inspectors inspecting their own homes. 

An important consideration for buyers is that sellers might not be willing to negotiate with you or any other potential buyer until both of you have received a copy of and had a chance to review the report from a home inspector. Do not be surprised if this ends up being the case for you. Also, sellers tend to be willing to negotiate with buyers over repair requests when buyers see and are aware of other deficiencies or defects that are mentioned in the report but that the buyer did not make a repair request for.

While home inspections are great and are an important part of any real estate transaction, we must remember that no system is perfect. Home inspectors are human after all, so even if you have the best possible person inspecting your home, they might miss something because to err is human.

Also, if you are a buyer, do not be surprised if the seller fails to disclose defects in your home. The home inspection is meant to help you learn about any potential deficiencies or defects so even if the seller does not disclose them, you know what they might be and can plan and act accordingly.

Hiring a home inspector: Why you need to hire an experienced, licensed or certified professional home inspector and what to look for when hiring a home inspector 

When working with a home inspector, you should be hiring a qualified, independent, professional home inspector. You should be looking to hire 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 there is no certification available for home inspectors in your area or region, the home inspector you are working with should be a member of the local or national home inspector’s trade association.

Maybe you have a friend, family member, colleague, etc. who works in construction or something related to home inspection who offers to give you a free home inspection to help you to reduce your costs. However, you want an independent, professional home inspector, an impartial, third party doing your home inspection. You might be reading this and wondering why?

First, you need to have a professional who knows what they are doing. Chances are your colleague, friend, family, etc. might not know what they are doing if they are not a professional home inspector. It is recommended to have an independent professional inspect your home to ensure that the seller is more likely to honour your repair requests.

Additionally, if you have someone who is not a professional who misses any defects in your home, you will legally have little to no recourse if this happens. If you hire a professional, you will have more recourse in the event that they miss any defects or deficiencies in their inspection and/or their report.

It cannot be said enough that if you need to have your home inspected, even if you are a professional home inspector, you need to have an independent, impartial third party inspect your home. Even if you see yourself as experienced you will not have the knowledge, experience, and expertise that a professional would have. And sellers will not accept their opinion, findings, or report from someone who is not a licensed or certified home inspector when negotiating over the terms of the sale of their home.

Additionally, a professional home inspector’s job is to be knowledgeable about the elements of a home’s construction, the proper installation of these elements, proper maintenance, and home safety. They understand how a home’s systems and components are meant to and designed work together, how and why they might fail. 

Even if you are a professional home inspector you will need to hire an impartial third party to inspect your own home because it would be difficult or maybe even impossible for you as a buyer to completely objective and unemotional about your potential new home.

You cannot be objective and would have difficulty not being emotional if you have fallen in love with a home and this would probably affect your judgment. Something to consider is, for example, is that surgeons are never allowed to operate on loved ones because of ethical reasons. The same logic applies here for home inspectors inspecting their own homes. 

An important consideration for buyers is that sellers might not be willing to negotiate with you or any other potential buyer until both of you have received a copy of and had a chance to review the report from a home inspector. Do not be surprised if this ends up being the case for you. Also, sellers tend to be willing to negotiate with buyers over repair requests when buyers see and are aware of other deficiencies or defects that are mentioned in the report but that the buyer did not make a repair request for.

While home inspections are great and are an important part of any real estate transaction, we must remember that no system is perfect. Home inspectors are human after all, so even if you have the best possible person inspecting your home, they might miss something because to err is human.

Also, if you are a buyer, do not be surprised if the seller fails to disclose defects in your home. The home inspection is meant to help you learn about any potential deficiencies or defects so even if the seller does not disclose them, you know what they might be and can plan and act accordingly.

What can expect to happen when you attend your home inspection?

When you are at a home inspection, you can expect your home inspector and your real estate agent or broker to be looking a variety of things, the following sections include general information about what a standard, general home inspection might usually include and what a general home inspection does not usually include.

What does a standard, general home inspection usually include?

A standard home inspection and general home inspector’s report will usually discuss the visual condition of a home’s interior and exterior, as well as the property it is located on.

A standard home inspection and standard home inspector’s report should be considering the following: a home’s exterior condition, a home’s structural integrity and whether or not all of the appliances work. A standard home inspection will determine whether or not the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems work properly and what condition the HVAC systems are in since they will be tested depending on the time of year and temperature.

A standard home inspection will involve a home inspector examining a home’s interior plumbing, a home’s electrical systems, a home’s roof, attic, and visible insulation, its ceilings, walls, floors, windows, and doors. A home inspector will also be examining the foundation, basement, crawl spaces, interior and exterior drainage, structural, and safety components that are part of a home.

Related article: Inspection Checklist when buying a home in Toronto

What is not typically included during a standard, general home inspection?

This cannot be said enough, but home inspections differ from city to city, province to province, and country to country. This means your experience with home inspections and what they will include and not include, will depend on a few factors such as who is inspecting your home, the procedures they follow that are set out by the organization and/or licensing bodies, that they are a part of.

This lack of continuity means that your results may vary depending on who you hire and where you live. However, there are some standard things that are not generally included in your general, standard home inspection. 

The majority of general home inspectors are not going to be checking for asbestos, radon, methane, radiation, wood-destroying organisms, mould, mildew and fungi, pests, rodents, or lead.

If you are looking to learn more about the condition your roof is in, such as getting a certification for your roof from the roofing company or a guarantee for the condition of your roof, this will be separate. Generally, you will need to have a separate inspection done if you want an inspection of your sewer system, septic system or waste system.

If you are buying an older home, it is recommended that you pay for additional inspections for your roof and sewer system. While a sewer inspection in Toronto might cost you around $325, a sewer inspection has the potential to provide you with valuable information about the pipes used in your house, i.e. if they are older and might need to be replaced. 

Most standard home inspections are not examining any property besides the exterior of your home. In other words, if you need a property inspection, you might want to consider bringing in a professional to look at your yard or garden which may have drainage issues or grading issues. Also, if you need a property survey, you will need to contract a separate specialist to do this.

It is important to remember that the areas that are not covered by your standard, general home inspection mean that you will need to bring in licensed or certified experts in these areas to come to visit your home and identify any potential issues.

It is true that some general home inspectors will be credentialed and have the expertise to provide inspections for areas that are outside of a standard home inspection.

If you are looking to buy an older home or do not know much about the home you are buying, do not be surprised if you have multiple experts in different areas coming to inspect different parts of your home. This is especially true for older homes because their HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems may need to be updated to prevent any future issues and to ensure that they are up to code.

Important considerations for home inspections

How much can you expect to pay to have your home professionally inspected in Toronto?

How much you can expect to pay to have your home inspected in Toronto 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.

How much a home inspector will charge in a given area will depend on a variety of factors, such as your home’s size, your home’s age, and any additional, optional services you are having them perform such as septic testing, well testing, or radon testing. 

When buying a home, ideally the cost of a home inspector’s fee should not determine whether or not you decide to hire a home inspector and who you decide to work with. You might think it is expensive to contract a professional but the knowledge, information, and sense of security, you are gaining from having an experienced professional inspect your potential new home can help to provide you with some peace of mind.

And if your home inspection uncovers expensive deficiencies that you can have the seller fix before moving in then the investment in having a home inspection done will have paid for itself.

Just because one home inspector’s services are most economical when compared to the fees that other home inspectors in your area are charging, this is not necessarily not indicative of a great deal or the quality of a home inspector’s work, experience, knowledge, training, etc.

When looking for a home inspector, do not be afraid to ask your real estate agent or broker for recommendations. When hiring a professional home inspector you can consider the following factors as a jumping-off point when deciding who work with: their experience, training, expertise, and compliance with any provincial regulations and if memberships in professional associations.

If you are working with a home inspector in Toronto or Ontario, the average cost to hire a home inspector will be approximately $325 CAD. However, how much this will end up costing you will depend on a variety of factors. It is better to 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.

You might spend even more money on home inspections if the findings from your first home inspection, indicate that you need to contract more specialized inspectors to come and inspect your home and/or property. If you want a price estimate, you can always consider asking a home inspector for an estimate. [How much are closing costs in Toronto?]

A home inspector’s report should not be the only factor that influences your decision as to whether or not you should buy a certain home

A home inspector’s report and findings should not be the be-all and end-all that helps you to determine whether or not you decide to buy a certain home. While home inspections can be helpful and help you learn a lot about a home, they are not meant to tell you exactly what it will be like for you to own a certain home.

In other words, a home inspector cannot tell you to date and time when your roof might leak, but they can help you avoid buying a money pit and help you determine whether or not a home has good bones. Home inspections are only meant to be only one important part of the process to purchase a home. 

No matter how great a home might appear on the outside, no home is without its issues

This cannot be said enough, no home is perfect, without flaws or issues. A home might photograph beautifully, looks great on paper, and look amazing, but just because a home looks amazing does not mean it will not have some defects or deficiencies. Even newly built homes will have things that will need to be fixed.

Even if you have a home inspection done and learn that your home is in excellent condition, you did not waste this money on getting your home inspected. Learning from a home inspection that your home is actually in great shape, means you can enjoy some peace of mind knowing that your home is in great shape.

No matter what the result from your home inspection ends up being, you will have learned useful information about your home, and you can always refer back to this report in the future as needed.

Home inspections are not meant to fix every single problem with a home, no matter how big or how small the problem might be

While this has been said before, this cannot be stressed enough. When you are buying a home, a home inspection is not meant to be the mechanism which allows you to learn about everything that is wrong with a home and then expect the seller to fix everything.

It is simply to unreasonable as a buyer to expect the seller to be willing or able to expect every single deficiency a home inspector uncovers since you might even be able to fix some of these deficiencies yourself. 

When you are buying a home, it is expected that as a buyer, you and a seller might be able to negotiate and come to an agreement in which you have the seller agree to fix any major deficiencies. Sellers should be fixing any major issues related to a home’s structural integrity, safety, mould or mildew or anything else that is extremely important. In this scenario, consult your real estate agent or broker as to which deficiencies or defects you might be able to reasonably expect a seller to repair.

Whenever negotiating repair requests, you should not be making repair requests for anything that you could have easily discovered upon your initial inspection such as uneven floors or an ugly paint job. Uneven floors or a bad paint job are deficiencies that you can easily get fixed.

Being nitpicky with your repair requests means you are potentially running the risk of frustrating the seller since you could have asked for these items to be fixed in your initial purchase offer. You should only be nitpicky about repair requests and little things if you are buying a newly built home from a builder or developer. Keep in mind that in a seller’s market it is not uncommon for sellers to reject all of a buyer’s repair requests.

If you are a particularly savvy buyer, you can always consider asking the seller to pay for a home warranty. A home warranty is meant to cover any major defects in the home for a year and is meant to provide you with some peace of mind during your first year of homeownership.

If you learn through a home inspection that a home has foundation issues or a basement that has a tends to flood whenever there is a lot of rain, you might want to reconsider buying this home, because foundation issues and moisture issues can be expensive to fix.

What happens when you find that your home has deficiencies? How do you proceed when there are deficiencies in the report from a home inspector?

First, if your home inspector uncovers deficiencies and/or defects in your do not panic. Take a deep breath, every home will have some deficiencies and defects, no home is without its flaws. Remember, that you are paying and hired a home inspector to uncover any deficiencies and defects in your home. A home inspector’s report is meant for you to learn about your home and potential problems it has now and potential problems it might have in the future.

Just because a home inspector found some defects or deficiencies does not mean that you should not buy a certain home. Your decision as to whether or not you want to buy a certain home will depend on you, the deficiencies your home has and whether or not you are ok with these deficiencies. For example, you want to stay away from homes with structural issues, foundation problems or anything related to moisture.

Use a home inspector’s report as a negotiating tool with the seller over price, repair requests, etc. Also, you can use this report to help you as you budget for potential repairs and maintenance for your new home. You might end up lucky and having found some major issues that the seller(s) might be willing to make repairs.

If there are deficiencies and you do not know how to proceed with negotiating repair requests with the seller, your real estate agent or broker will be in a great position to advise you about how to negotiate with the seller about making repairs.

Your real estate agent or broker can help you to determine whether or not you would benefit more from having to ask the seller to provide you with a cash credit for an item being repaired instead of having the seller to repair or replace an item.

The reasoning behind having the seller provide you with a cash credit to repair or replace something is that since the seller is selling their home, they might not have a vested interest in their home once it has been sold.

In other words, there is no guarantee as to whether or not they will actually hire the contractor who is best suited to do these repairs or have the repairs done in a manner that is up to your standards. 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 whether or not a cash credit is allowed in this situation.

Special information about home inspections and warranties for people buying pre-construction homes in Canada

Special note for anyone reading this who is buying a pre-construction home, whether you are buying a condo, townhouse, detached single-family house, etc. you will need to have your home inspected twice. Yes, your home needs to be inspected twice. 

If you are buying a pre-construction home, you will need to have your home inspected for the first time, before you close on your home, and then you should have your home inspected for the second time approximately a month before your warranty is set to expire.

Your first home inspection is the home inspection that is mandatory for all newly built homes that are covered under a warranty from the builder or developer who built them. This first home inspection should happen with your builder/developer and your real estate agent or broker sometime shortly before your home is officially delivered to you.

This first home inspection for pre-construction and newly built homes happens before you are supposed to sign the Agreement and Purchase of Sale (APS) documents, which will allow you to officially close on and purchase your home.

This first home inspection is mandatory for 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.

Your real estate agent or broker should be with you during this first home inspection to help you understand what is going on, to answer any questions you might have about the transaction, what is going on, assist in ensuring the builder/developer answers any questions you might have for them, and/or any questions you have for the home inspector.

During your first home inspection for pre-construction homes before the builder/developer officially delivers your home to you, you will be determining whether or not the builder or developer who built your home has lived up to the promises they agreed to fulfill. These promises would have been outlined in the original purchase agreement documents that you would have signed to begin the purchase process for your pre-construction home.

When doing your first home inspection, if you discover any deficiencies (structural issues, appliances not working, mechanical issues, etc.) you will need to be writing them down on a list and have your builder or developer sign off on this list. If you do not have these deficiencies written down on a list where your builder or developer has signed off on, your builder/developer will not be obligated to fix these deficiencies.

The second home inspection for newly built homes covered under a warranty should take place approximately one month before your home warranty is set to expire. It is essential 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.

Remember that there for warranty claims that there are different deadlines for different warranties. For example, the warranty deadline for your windows might differ from the warranty deadline for some of your appliances. You should make sure to record 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 homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your warranty is valid. In other words, this means that if you change the filter for your furnace and are claiming heating deficiencies or you clean your gutters and claim water penetration into your basement, this should be noted.

Your builder should leave you with 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 before you close on your home. 

Make sure to ask your builder/developer, real estate agent or broker if you have any questions about these warranties. And make sure that someone who understands how these warranties work, answers your questions in a manner that you can understand. You want to walk away from the first home inspection with a good understanding of how all of the warranties for all of the different components of your home.

Warranties are important for newly built homes because many newly built homes in Canada come with a warranty from a builder. However, not all warranties are the same and not all warranties are created equally. In certain Canadian provinces such as British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario, all newly built homes come with mandatory warranty coverage. However, not all provinces in Canada require everyone who is building new homes to have a mandatory warranty for homeowners.

Buyers should be aware of the fact that in other provinces in Canada, builders and/or developers might try to convince you (buyers) to opt-out of this warranty coverage, under the pretense of telling buyers that builders are saving buyers from paying warranty registration fees.

Do not fall for this because you should not be paying any fees to register your warranty. As with any warranty, whether this warranty covers your home and products, and components used to build your home, your vehicle, your electronics, etc. you should take some time to learn about how the warranty works, what is and what is not covered under the warranty, and how long the warranty is supposed to last.

Related article: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for Buying a House in Toronto

Special considerations for people buying apartments, condos, and coops in Canada

If you are reading this and you are looking to purchase an apartment, condo, or coop in a larger multistory, multi-dwelling structure, especially in a high-rise, this means that 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 looking to purchase an apartment, coop, or condo, you will need to consider liability more so than you ever would consider liability if you were purchasing a single-family home. You will also need to consider what would happen to you financially if something were to happen in your building or in the coop. Reading this means you might be wondering how this is at all related to home inspections.

However, when you are considering liability factors if you are purchasing a unit in a multi-unit dwelling, you will be looking at things beyond your unit. For example, there will be at least one or even more than building that you will need to be concerned about for liability factors.

In an ideal world, your attorney should be doing their best to predict if anything that could potentially happen in your building whether or not it happens within your unit could end up costing you money. 

You, your attorney, and the real estate or broker representing you should speak with whoever is with managing the coop or complex and see whether or not you all can get the minutes and notes from previous condo association or co-op board meetings. 

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 crucial that you, your attorney, and real estate agent or broker all 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 items that might need to be potentially or replaced could include different things such as the roof, the boiler, laundry machines if your build has communal laundry or elevator equipment. Having to repair and/or replace any or all of these items will end up costing you in one way or another.

For example, the form that you might pay the costs to repair or replace these items might take the form of having to pay a permanent maintenance increase as part of your coop or condo association fees or a temporary assessment.

During your home inspection, you will want to be moving around your unit and spending some time thoroughly examining and inspecting your unit. At this time, you want to be making sure that the seller has not failed to disclose any potential problems that they might or might not have known about. You will want to walk through your unit, checking to see whether or not all of the appliances, outlets, circuit breakers, lights, faucets, etc. are in good condition and in good working order.

While you do not have to do this, it is highly recommended that on the day whenever you are closing on your unit, before you sign the papers to officially purchase your unit, you do one last, final walkthrough. During this final walkthrough, you will be walking around to ensure that everything remains in good working order and that and something dramatic did not happen like the unit upstairs did not flood the night before you have closed on your unit.

Conclusion

You might balk at spending an additional $300 to $500 or even on a home inspection when you probably are already spending a lot of money buying a home, moving, paying closing costs, etc.

However, hiring a professional home inspector who you trust is a small investment in the grand scheme of buying a home. [How much are closing costs in Toronto?] Spending a little now can help you protect yourself and your investment and chances are that you will be happy you hired a professional to do a home inspection.

As mentioned throughout this article, a home inspector can help you to learn about problems before you officially buy or move into your home. Some of these problems might be minor and relatively easy to fix, meaning you might be able to fix them yourself or hire someone to fix it.

There is always the possibility that your home only has a few minor deficiencies and the home inspection does not uncover anything significant issue that you might mean that you will not need to negotiate with the seller to fix. If you have your home inspected and this ends up being the case for you, then you should consider yourself to be extremely lucky since this is not always the case.

However, there is always the possibility that your home looks great from the outside but upon further inspection, your home inspector uncovers a major issue or deficiency. In this case, a home inspection can help you to learn about what potential problems you might face are.

Your home inspector might even inform you that you are buying an unsafe home or a home that in the end will be a money pit because it needs so many repairs. For these reasons and others, this is why a home inspection is always an important part of the process of buying a new home, whether you are buying a newly built or already existing home.

Additionally, if you are a first-time homebuyer and will be a new homeowner, being present at your home inspection can serve as a unique learning experience for you. Being present at a home inspection can serve to provide you with an excellent opportunity to learn about home safety, home maintenance, and upkeep from an experienced professional. 

If you are savvy, you can use this time with a professional home inspector to inquire and learn about measures you can take to help ensure that your home will be as safe and secure as possible.

No matter what stems from your home inspection, whether you gain insight into information that confirms your desire to purchase your home, gain information that helps you negotiate with the seller to purchase your home or ultimately dissuades you, a home inspection is important.

The knowledge and information you gain from a home inspection can help prepare you financially and mentally for what is to come, helping you to avoid some potentially, nasty surprises and provide you peace of mind knowing what might lie ahead for you.

Justo
By Justo Team

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