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The Home Inspection


Why do I need a home inspection?

It's often said that one of the most expensive and important purchases you will ever make will be your home. However, unlike the guarantee a buyer receives with most purchases, there's no money-back guarantee or return policy if you're not satisfied with your recently purchased home. Once you buy a home, you're on your own to maintain it, repair it, anticipate problems and pay the bills. This is why it's best to know as much as you can about potential problems before you make the commitment to buy.

What does a home inspector do?

One of the best ways to understand about a home's condition, habitability and safety is to hire a professional home inspector. A properly trained home inspector will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another.

Home inspectors will go through the property and perform a comprehensive visual inspection to assess the condition of the house and all of its systems. They will determine the components that are not performing properly as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. They will also identify areas where repairs may be needed or where there may have been problems in the past. Inspections are intended to provide the client with a better understanding of property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.

A pre-purchase inspection for a 165 to 205 m2 (1800 to 2200 sq. ft.) home typically takes about three hours and costs under $500 (plus applicable taxes). Following the inspection, the buyer is presented with a report, consolidating the details of the inspection. The home inspector should be willing to answer any questions a buyer might have and to clarify the limitations of the inspection to avoid misunderstandings.

CMHC recommends that potential buyers accompany the inspector as the inspection takes place. It can be a valuable learning experience.

Scope of the inspection

The home inspector will provide a visual inspection by looking at the home's various systems, including interior and exterior components. The inspector will check exterior components including roofing, flashing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, wall surfaces, the foundation, and the grading around it. Note that if the inspection takes place in the winter, the roof and the foundation may not be fully visible for inspection if they are covered with snow and ice. For safety and insurance reasons, the home inspector is not required to climb up on a roof to look at it but will make all possible efforts to do so. However, the home inspector will inspect the roof from the ground. This also applies to the chimney and downspouts. If problems or symptoms beyond the scope of the inspection are found, the home inspector may recommend further evaluation. Interior systems the home inspector will check include electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, insulation, flooring, ceiling and wall finishes, windows and doors.

Note that a home inspector is not qualified to inspect a wood-burning appliance such as a fireplace or wood stove unless they are WETT (Wood Energy Technology Training) certified. Many home inspectors are, but do not carry out a WETT inspection as part of the standard home inspection unless it is requested. This is an extra request and will add at least one hour to the inspection time. To be properly inspected, a chimney must first be cleaned. As with the outside of the home, the inspection of the interior systems is visual, meaning that the inspector will not be able to see behind walls or under the floor.

A proper home inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotes for repairs, or pointing out noncompliance with building code requirements. A home inspection is not intended to provide warranties or guarantees. A home inspection is intended to help you make an informed decision about buying your home. A home inspection is not to be mistaken as a warranty on the house.

Outline of Inspection

Items typically discussed during the inspection include:
 
 
General

Grading Trim
Window Wells
Roof Covers
Garage
Steps
Eavetroughs
Chimney
Sidings
Soffit & Fascia

Structural

Walls
Foundation
Interior Support
Roof Sheathing
Basement Water Problems
Walls Roof Support

Plumbing

Service
Supply
Water Heater
Waste Drainage
Sump
 
Heating

Heating Plant
Ductwork
Fresh Air
Baseboard Heating

Electrical

Feed
Panels
Service
Wiring
 
General Interior

Finish
Floors
Outlets
Stairs
Windows
Fans
Heat Distribution
Doors
Plumbing
Fixtures
Smoke Detector

Insulation

Type of Insulation
Weatherstripping and Sealing
Crawlspace
Vapor Barrier
Attic Venting

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