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What To Expect From A Home Inspection

Purchasing a home may be the most expensive investment you will ever make. Consequently, it is crucial to find out if there are any major problems with a home before you buy. While you may fall in love with the aesthetics of a property, you need to know if it will be a money pit or a sound purchase. Before you close on a home, you need to schedule an inspection of the property. If you are a first-time buyer, the following guide will provide you essential details on what to expect from a home inspection.

Inspector Qualifications

While there are no federal regulations overseeing the licensing of home inspectors, some provinces, such as British Columbia, do require inspectors to earn qualifications and others plan to follow. In the meantime, if you do not live in B.C., you need to make sure that you do not hire a fly-by-night inspector with a fancy business card to perform an inspection for you.

There are certain qualifications you need to make sure inspectors meet including:

  • Certification by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
  • Membership in industry groups such as Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI).
  • Training in a home inspector program
  • Insurance

InterNACHI-certified inspectors must pass an exam and take continuing education classes to maintain their membership status. CAHPI members are bound by membership requirements to adhere to the organization's standards of practice.

Interior and Exterior Evaluation

Inspectors should provide you with a detailed written report of their findings after they evaluate the interior and exterior of your home. It can take several hours to complete a thorough inspection.

An interior evaluation includes:

  • Attic space
  • Cabinets
  • Ceilings
  • Counters
  • Doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Floors
  • Garage spaces
  • Stairs and railings
  • Windows
  • Wood stoves
  • Ventilation

The exterior evaluation includes:

  • Chimneys
  • Decks
  • Driveways
  • Flashing
  • Outdoor walls
  • Patios
  • Roof surfaces
  • Railings
  • Siding
  • Walkways

Inspectors also examine home systems such as your heating, air conditioning, plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems. Depending on their qualifications and certifications, some inspectors can provide other services such septic tank inspections, radon, mold and water quality.

Inspectors offer warranty for their reports that specify that fixtures and structures are safe for a certain amount of time after an inspection. This limited warranty does not mean that you should forego replacing dated fixtures, especially those that are obsolete or not energy efficient.

What Not to Expect

While inspectors can tell you what is wrong with a home and provide recommendations as to what repairs you need to make, they do not make estimates on the value of a home. That is the job of a real estate appraiser.

Inspectors should not recommend specific contractors to make repairs in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The final report will not include assessments of fixtures that are not readily accessible to the inspector, such as underground storage tanks. Furthermore, per industry standards and CAHPI guidelines, inspectors are not required to move or dismantle furniture, fixtures or any other personal property in order to perform an evaluation.

In addition, inspectors will not provide you extensive details on whether a home meets municipal building codes.

Overall, a home inspection can help you determine if it is worth buying. Some problems may not be worth repairing compared to the overall cost of the home. If necessary, you can use the final report as a negotiating tool to get a better price on a property.

While you want to give the inspector the freedom to evaluate a home without distractions, you can also be present during the inspection in case you have questions about the condition of the home.