It's easy to get caught up in the speed, drama and pressure of bidding on a house that you are willing to skip a few steps to make sure you acquire the house of your dreams. You're suddenly willing to pay a few thousand more than you had intended. You're willing to go for a quicker closing date. You're even willing to skip the home inspection process, and just ask a knowledgeable family member to check it out for you. Slow down. Relax.
Don't let yourself fall in love with a house until you've had the house examined by a professional. The house could have any number of problems in structural, roofing, exterior, foundation, heating, plumbing, electrical, insulation etc. Even with newer homes, or ones that look flawless in your eyes, you'll never know what lies beneath the surface unless you hire a registered home inspector to check it out for you.
Do You Really Need A Home Inspection
Yes, this is something that you should budget for as part of your home purchase. It is the only way to know for sure that the home you're buying is worthy of the cost involved and that it will last for years. You certainly don't want to get caught making a bad investment, especially when this home is going to be one of the biggest purchases you ever make in your life. Not hiring an inspector is like playing with fire. You may get burnt if you don’t.
Home inspections have been around for quite a while, and for good reason. This process, which can cost between $300 and $500, is often a condition on buying a house. It usually takes a few hours and is easy to arrange. Hiring a professional home inspector is a small investment of your time and money, but it’s well worth the expense because you won't have to deal with costly and unexpected surprises once you've bought your home.
You can gain a wealth of information about the condition of a property before you buy it. A home inspection is not intended to provide warranties or guarantees, and is not to be mistaken as a warranty on the house.
How to Research a Home Inspector
The final sale of a home can hinge on the results of a home inspection—even for a million dollar home. While a home inspection is a critical component of buying and selling a home, knowing your home inspector is just as important.
Recent surges in the popularity of home inspections have created an over-populated inspection industry where not all inspectors have the training or experience to do a good job. Be wary of low-priced home inspectors whose only credential is a certificate acquired online, or by correspondence, or from attending a three day course. There are some people in the home inspection industry who are not fully qualified—if at all—and they should not be recognized as home inspectors.
Home inspection is a discipline that requires special training, knowledge and communication skills. Anyone can say that they are a home inspector. That is why it is important to choose an inspector wisely.
Reputable home and property inspectors generally belong to CAHPI-Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors, which has set standards and is recognized by the Real Estate Associations and federal and provincial governments. CAHPI is the only national non-profit professional organization in Canada that rigorously tests home inspectors about their technical knowledge and diagnostic expertise prior to joining the organization as well as requiring continuing education after admission to keep current with new technology and building practices. Membership categories are based on the individual members' qualifications and experience. A member cannot advertise or promote his or her membership until they have reached the minimum standards of a practicing member. To become a member of CAHPI, an inspector must meet professional and educational requirements followed by a review.
Home inspectors should have a general understanding of all the various systems and components in a home. Many have practical experience or a background in engineering, construction and related building trades. Look for people who belong to CAHPI and who have taken some courses, such as defect recognition, building sciences or civil engineering. The more experienced a home inspector is, the more they have seen, the more likely it is they will be able to detect any less obvious problems.
Seasoned, professional home inspectors will be full-time home inspectors and are bound by a strict code of ethics and must adhere to specific standards of practice. You should ask to see proof of their membership in a provincial association. In most provinces, a member cannot advertise their membership in the association until they have reached the minimum standards of a practicing member.
To guard homebuyers against incompetent, negligent and bogus home inspectors, the association in your province will be pleased to clarify their membership categories and any particular inspector's membership level. Determine if the inspector intends to meet the CAHPI national standards of competency.
What To Watch Out For When Viewing A House
Before hiring a home inspector you can perform a do-it-yourself inspection to find out whether you even want to take the next step forward and have a professional inspection done. There are some things that can be obviously suspicious about a home and these are the things you should be looking for if you're somewhat serious about putting in an offer.
Open The Cabinets
Open up all the cabinets in the home to find out whether there is any type of mildew or mold odors coming from the inside. If the area smells damp, there may be a water leak that isn't obvious.
Check For Water Stains On The Walls And Ceiling
As you're walking through the home take a good look at the walls and the ceilings in every room. You'll be looking for evidence of water leaks. Carefully inspect the walls that back onto the baths or showers in the home. If you see any corrosion or stains on them, it might be a sign of a water leak or moisture penetration and this can be quite pricey to repair.
Inspect The Wall Plastering
Inspect the internal plastering on the walls for any hairline cracks. If the wall plastering wasn't done correctly when the home was built, these cracks will show up. You'll usually find that hairline cracks discovered in one room will lead to more in other parts of the house as well. When plaster starts to crack, it can lead to more cracks that can spread. Think of a small hairline crack in a windshield that turns into a larger one that spreads across the entire length of the windshield over time and you'll have the idea. The plaster may even become loose if you are putting up a wall light or a picture.
Look For Large Cracks Internally And Externally
Any cracks that show up on the outside or on the inside of the home that are wider than 2 mm will need further inspection. If you're interested in a home with these types of cracks you'll need to have a building inspector take a look at it first to ensure that there is no structural damage present.
Check The Downpipes
Make sure that all the pipes that are leading down from the roof are discharging water into soak wells and that the water isn’t just flowing into the ground. Look around the base of the downpipe to see if there are any signs of flooding occurring in the past. If it has rained recently you'll be able to see excess water collecting if the soak wells haven't been doing their job properly. This can be an expensive proposition to fix and you may want to bring this up with a home inspector before committing to the property.
Get Your Prospective Home Inspected So You Can Purchase Confidently
Although you may have fallen in love with a house, your feelings are based on what is presented on the surface. A home inspection will let you know exactly what is happening at a deeper level so that you can buy the home you want knowing with full certainty that it is structurally sound.