Protect Your Home Purchase by Hiring a Professional Home Inspector
If you are like most people, purchasing a home will be the biggest single expenditure of your lifetime. To protect your purchase, it is very important to have an independent and knowledgeable building or home inspection done on your potential home. This is not a time for emotion to control, but for logic to rule. And don’t scrimp on the quality of inspection to save money – this could cost you a lot more in the future. A good inspector is worth their price.
A seller will usually put ‘their best foot forward’ when it comes to showing the home, so it’s important that the home inspection is thorough enough to alert you of any problems (some difficult to spot) that could cost you money after you make your purchase.
What Does a Home Inspector Do?
A home inspector’s job is to assess the condition of the building and advise on anything dangerous; anything that could cause problems in the future and report on aspects of the building that will need future and potentially costly maintenance (the roof for example). If you’ve watched the popular TV series ‘Holmes Inspection’ featuring Mike Holmes, you will know that it is important to ask the right questions about your potential home inspector. Here are a few of the things a good inspector should do:
- Provide a visual inspection of the home’s interior including electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, insulation, flooring, foundation, ceiling and walls, windows and doors. 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. This may also incur an additional cost.
- Inspect exterior components including roofing, flashing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, wall surfaces, windows, doors, the foundation and the grading around it. Most inspectors will not venture onto a roof due to safety issues but will inspect from a ladder or the ground.
Since an inspector cannot damage the home, his inspection is normally visual. Where possible they may make use of devices such as moisture meters, spot thermometers and thermal cameras to help them in their work. Unless otherwise arranged, a typical inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotes for repairs, or determine compliance with regulatory requirements. A home inspection is not intended to provide warranties or guarantees.
A typical inspection can take up to three hours. Most inspectors will provide a written report, and do a walkthrough with you. Of course, an inspection is best done in the daylight, when problems are easier to spot.
In the province of BC, home inspectors must be licensed. Reputable building and home inspectors generally belong to a provincial or regional industry association. The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) is one such association. Its members must abide by a standard of practice and code of ethics as well as undertake ongoing education to help ensure the competency and professionalism of its home inspectors.
Some Points to Watch For When Choosing a Home Inspector:
- Your inspector should work for you alone and not have any ties to the seller or incentives from the real estate agent.
- Your inspector should have been in business long enough to gain experience and ideally have worked in one or more of the building trades. Don’t forget to ask to see a copy of their license to practice in BC.
- Ask for several references for their work. If possible, call the references to find out if they were happy with their inspection.
- ‘Google’ their name to see if anything untoward comes up, and check them with the Consumer Protection Authority and their professional association such as CAHPIBC and other community work associations.
- Check their website for information and testimonials.
- Are they offering to do repair work on the home? If so, make sure their license allows them to do so and get at least two other quotes.
In the end, nothing will guarantee that you will have ‘smooth sailing’ when it comes to your home inspection. If you follow the above guidelines, however, you will go a long way toward ensuring that your choice of building or home inspector will be a good one and that they will deliver the information you need to make a wise purchase.