Why you need to know how to choose a home inspector

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Choose Your Home Inspector Carefully

Home inspection is a discipline that requires special training, knowledge and communication skills. Presently there is no national uniform training program in the home inspection industry in Canada. The result is lots of different individuals and businesses carrying on as home inspectors and each of them have different certifications. Buyers should therefore inquire about the level of certification when hiring someone to inspect their home. Some of the more recognized designations within the industry include: “National Home Inspector” (NHICC), “Professional Home & Property Inspector” (National) and the “Registered Home Inspector” (CAHPI)

When to Use an Inspection Clause.

Including a condition for a home inspection provides protection to the buyer by allowing a certified inspector to examine the property before the sale is firmed up. The inspector will provide a report that will highlight any concerns of the condition of the home and its systems. It is a good idea to receive an inspection report on any home you are considering to purchase to give you an increased level of peace of mind, especially if you have any reservations or concerns about the physical condition of the property.

Wood Burning Appliances

Some insurance companies require you to obtain a “WETT” (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) certificate anytime there is a wood burning appliance in the home, such as a wood stove, or wood burning fireplace. This includes an inspection by a WETT certified inspector to verify that the appliance is in good working order, is safe to use, and meets industry requirements.

Well Inspection

When purchasing a home that has a well water supply, it is a good idea to get a well inspection. These inspections focus on 3 issues: Well system, Water Quantity, and Water Quality. There are 3 different types of well systems including dug, drilled, and bored. An inspector will examine various physical components including: location, well cap, well casing, drainage, well pump, any abandoned walls, and inside the house. They will also measure the water quantity. They determine the flow rate of the well in Litres/Minute. A water quality test should also be performed to ensure the water is potable.

Septic Inspection

When purchasing a home with a septic system, it is smart to get a specialized septic inspection. It’s important to ensure that it is in good working order. Repairing or replacing a septic system can be very expensive. It is best to discover if there is something wrong with it prior to finalizing the transaction. A septic inspection will include a review of the system permit, a tank inspection, a leaching bed inspection, and a house inspection.

Common inspection flaw: Grading

Probably the single most common flaw that comes up in a home inspection is improper grading of soil around the exterior of the property. Fortunately it is probably the easiest to remedy. The ground around the home should be properly sloped to allow water to drain away from the foundation walls. Low spots can cause water to pool around the foundation and could lead to leaks in the basement.

Common Inspection Flaw: Windows

The condition of the windows is important to inspect for many reasons. Cheap or poorly maintained windows can cause air drafts or even water leaks. They can also be very expensive to replace, especially if there are any specially shaped windows such as bay windows. If the windows need to be replaced after purchasing, make sure that this cost is considered into the purchase price.

Common Inspection Flaw: Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors/Alarms

All smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors must be in good working order. The Ontario Building Code has required direct-wired smoke alarms be installed in all new home construction since 1986. When smoke alarms are being replaced, the replacement unit must not reduce the level of detection. This means that if the home is built after 1986, then these alarms and detectors must still be direct wire units. Make sure to test all the units as part of your physical home inspections.

Common Inspection Flaw: Foundation Cracks

In Ontario it is not uncommon to find foundation cracks in the basement of resale homes. Cracks can even appear in brand new homes. Cracks can allow water to seep into the basement and potentially lead to water damage to the walls and home furnishings. The good news is that cracks aren’t difficult to fix. If there is no evidence of water leaks in the interior of the home then a simple epoxy fill or exterior membrane replacement could do the trick. Larger cracks may require an epoxy injection to totally seal the crack from interior to exterior. The cost of these injections can be affordable and often come with a lifetime transferable guarantee.

Common Inspection Flaw: Exterior Wood Paint

A commonly overlooked area of the house is the exterior wood trim. It is best to repair or replace any wood trim as necessary to avoid potential water leakage. Refinishing the exterior trim can also go a long way of improving the look of the home and increase curb appeal. Look for areas around garage doors, door frames, and windows.

Common Inspection Flaw: Downspouts:

Eavestroughs play an important role in protecting your home from rainfall. Properly installed eavestroughs prevent water from running off the top storey room on to lower roof sections. They also help direct the water away from the foundation. Ideally top storey eavestroughs should run direct to the ground and away from the home. If they instead drain onto a lower level roof make sure the trough goes all the way to the next level eaves instead of washing on the roof surface where it would cause extra wear in that area.

Common Inspection Flaw: Attic Insulation

In older homes, the insulation in the attic may be compressed unevenly distributed or simply inadequate to begin with. Based on the condition of the insulation it may be advantageous to have more blown in to raise the R rating. Investing a bit of extra money into this kind of improvement may lead you to save much more by reducing heating costs in the future.

Common Inspection Flaw: GFI plugs

Since the late 80’s the Ontario Electrical Code has mandated that GFI (Ground Fault Interruption) outlets be installed on all exterior and bathroom plugs. They should also be installed near any other water source like a kitchen sink.  At first they were permitted to install one in a bathroom and then wire the rest of the bathrooms behind this GFI to protect the rest of the plugs. While this may work, it can be frustrating to figure out why your hair dryer suddenly stopped working. Newer homes now have individual GFI duplex plugs. It is recommended that all GFI plugs be tested once a month.

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About The Author
Julia Robertson

Julia is the administrative backbone of the LIFE Real Estate Group. With a long history of office management and an attention to customer service, Julia provides the highest level administrative support to the LIFEreg team. Among her many contributions, her responsibilities include social media and marketing. Her strong design knowledge is an asset to the team and she loves consulting clients with staging needs and preparing homes for sale.

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