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.
Why You Need a Home Inspection
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. However, it's well worth the expense because you won't have to deal with costly and unexpected surprises once you've bought your home. Also 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.
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.
The Benefits of Home Inspections
People have different reasons for requesting a home inspection. Many call in an inspector every few years to check their homes. This routine allows the owner to deal with home safety concerns as well as plan a repair schedule for current damages. The information offered is also valuable for analyzing the current value of a property.
For the Buyer
Buying a new home can be quite an undertaking. A home inspection gives you a clear picture of the property you’re about to purchase. Before signing any legal documents, make sure you are well informed of all underlying property issues. Faults on any property can be used as bargaining points to the buyer’s advantage.
For the Seller
Property sellers can also use a home inspection to their advantage. It offers the seller more marketing power when they discover property liabilities and then fix them before buyers can use them as a negotiating tool. This also attracts potential buyers since nobody wants to purchase a defective property.
There are many types of inspections that you can perform in a home, but you should keep in mind that this process does not act as a guarantee for the home’s future condition. It is a report offered on the home in its present state only.
What to Expect with a Calgary Home Inspection
Whenever you make a big decision, such as buying a new home, you need to make sure you protect your investment. A home inspection is a necessary part of the process and understanding what they will be looking for is also very important. If you want to make sure you get the right house for you, an inspection is required. Here are some of the things you should expect from your home inspector.
Most inspections will include a contract you will sign before the inspection. You can expect the inspection to take at least two days and you will also receive a detailed report of anything found by the inspector. The home inspector will often get on a ladder to look at the shingles and the roof. They will also be looking for holes in the walls, cracks, termites and more.
What do Calgary Home Inspectors Look For?
The goal of a home inspection is to make sure that the home adheres to all government regulations and is safe to live in. Usually the home inspector will begin by looking at the home’s structural integrity. Things like a crack in the foundation, support beams that are deteriorating and holes in certain places can compromise the structure and make it unsafe.
Home inspectors will look at the quality of your home appliances. For example, they may examine your water heater to ensure it is functioning properly and that it adheres to the government code that regulates water heaters used in residential homes. This can be helpful in negotiating the price of the house. If you have to replace outdated appliances you can ask the home sellers for a discount on the price as a concession for taking on that responsibility.
Some home inspectors may also look at a home’s energy efficiency. This includes determining if a home has adequate insulation in the walls, if the windows and doors have proper weather stripping, and whether or not the appliances in the home are energy efficient among other things. A home that is lacking in these areas can lead to high utility bills. To make sure a home is built right and safe for occupancy, hire home inspectors to check your house. Otherwise, you won’t have any recourse for any problems that you notice later, even large ones.
Home Inspection Limitations
A home inspection can give buyers a good idea of the condition of the home, but it also can't give home buyers any guarantees. Home inspectors aren't allowed to alter the home in any way, so they won't be able to follow the electrical wires into the walls to ensure they haven't been compromised. They may not be able to check the septic tank if it's not readily accessible or assess how level the floors are. If there are hidden surprises (e.g., discarded food items, small rodents, etc.) in the walls or floor registers, a home inspector won't be able to tunnel into the home to find them. Once a homeowner knows what the inspection doesn't cover, they may be able to perform some additional inspection work of their own.
The Issues Most Overlooked by Inspectors
As you go through this process, a good home inspector won't miss anything, but they are still human. The most overlooked home issues include:
- HVAC problems
- Floors beneath carpet
- Major appliance issues
- Roof Leaks
- Siding & Windows
Sometimes it has nothing to do with how good or bad the inspector is, but what's included in the contract you sign. Make sure you get everything you need, but understand many home inspectors don't look for some of these things because it would include ripping up carpet, floorboard and taking chunks out of the walls.
What to Look for in a Home Inspector
It goes without saying that you’ll want to get a home inspection before the deal closes on your new place. In order to help you find the right home inspector, here are a few simple guidelines to follow.
Have A Home Inspector Ready
While you are searching for a home you should also be looking for a home inspector. This way, if you find the home of your dreams, you'll already have an inspector in mind that you can call immediately.
Take A Look At The Credentials
There are home inspectors that have been doing their jobs for the last 30 years and then there are new inspectors that are just getting started in the industry. Try to locate an inspector that has a track record behind him. This way, you'll be better able to trust his findings and conclusions on the home in question.
Ask About Availability
Some home inspectors are busier than others. Find out how readily available the inspector is. Once you've picked out a fantastic home you won't want to wait for very long to see the results of the inspection.
Of Course Price Counts
Get a feel for the pricing of the services by calling different inspectors and companies. You should be looking for a middle-of-the-road price that isn't too expensive but at the same time isn't questionably cheap.
Once you have received your report, keep in mind that there are very few resale homes that are absolutely perfect. You shouldn't be surprised or shocked to see small issues coming to light on the report. As long as there are only one or two problems that are priced less than $1,000 each and they don't need to be resolved on a right-now basis, it should be considered as a very favorable report.
Regulations and Expectations
Provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia regulate their home inspectors, while provinces such as Ontario do not. While it's important to know the qualifications and reputation of whoever a homeowner hires, it's especially important to find someone trustworthy in unregulated provinces. Some inspectors might leave certain facts off their report or flat-out lie about what they find. They may do this because they have some loyalty to a third party, such as the lender or the title company, or simply because they didn't thoroughly inspect the home. Home buyers should plan for the inspection to take about three hours.
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 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.
How to Have a Better Home Inspection
The key to having a better home inspection is by taking the time to learn what the inspector does and what their limitations are. Even the best inspectors in the province, whether they're in Bearspaw or elsewhere, may still miss an important structural issue that was buried deep in the inner layers of the home. Homeowners who do the research on the reputation of their home inspector and who ask questions along the way will undoubtedly be more confident in making the right decision about whether or not to purchase the home.
Justin Havre is the top producing REALTOR® with RE/MAX First, Canada's very first RE/MAX brokerage. Calgary real estate is his passion; Justin specializes in Southwest & Northwest Calgary homes for sale. He can be reached at 403.217.0003 or contacted through this site.