The last thing you want to do after finding the perfect home is to find out it needs several thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs before it’s livable. A home inspection will inform you if a house has any problems, and if it does, how bad they are. Repairs aren’t the end of the world if they’re minor or cosmetic; as a homeowner, you better get used to paying for them. However, serious structural problems, a leaking foundation, a termite problem – all those could be red flags.
If you put a home inspection as a condition in your offer, and the inspector tells you there’s a serious problem, you’re able to back out of the deal. If you didn’t, you could be forced to go through with the transaction and deal with the problems as the new owner.
Since you’re the buyer, you’ll likely be required to pay for the inspector yourself. This can run from $250 - $400 on average, depending on the size and location of the property. The sellers may have already made their own home inspection before putting the home on the market, but it’s up to you if you’ll trust the results.
Choosing a home inspector
If you have a realtor, they’ll probably have a home inspector or two that they usually work with who they’ll recommend. You can go with them or one of your own choosing. Since you’re the one who has to take responsibility for the home, it’s your prerogative.
Home inspectors do not require licensing or certification except in Alberta and British Columbia. It’s important to pick an inspector with good reviews or that you personally trust to give an unbiased and thorough inspection.
The Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors is the best place to check for a qualified home inspector if you’re not in B.C or Alberta. If you are, you’ll want to visit either the Home Inspectors Association BC or the Service Alberta website.
Accompanying your home inspector
You aren’t required to be at the home when the inspector performs their inspection, but it is preferable. If you’re not there, you can’t see the problems (if there are any) in person. The inspector will also be able to show you the location of the circuit breaker, water shut-off valves, attic access, etc. There’s also the opportunity to ask your own questions about the property.
Make sure your home inspector does a thorough job
This tip requires you to be present at the home inspection, which you should do anyway.
There are many things that a home inspector should look at. One of the key areas that absolutely should be examined is the roof. The roof is one of the only places that is hard or impossible to examine from the ground, and as a result, is one of the first places a qualified inspector should look at. How can they see a cracked chimney or torn shingle from the sidewalk?
If your home inspector doesn’t go on the roof, don’t use them.
Watch out for cleverly-placed furniture
Sometimes the sellers may be aware of problems such as mold or damaged walls and try to cover it up by placing furniture in front or on top of it. This kind of home staging is highly unethical, but the only way to make sure you’re not being duped is to get a home inspector that will look behind paintings or under area rugs.
The best tip I can give you is to always find a trustworthy home inspector, whether by word of mouth from friends and family who have used them before, or through a realtor you also trust.