What is a Home Inspection?

Home Inspecting is a relatively young consulting profession that has its roots from home buyers asking contractors, architects and other building specialists to comment on prospective home purchases. If a car gets a pre-purchase inspection, why shouldn’t a home?

A home inspection is a visual inspection of all the major components of a home, from the foundation, exterior, roof and structure, to the interior, heating, plumbing and electrical systems. A Home Inspector’s job is to look for deficiencies in the home and document these conditions in a detailed, written report. A Home Inspector is a generalist, not a specialist, much like your family doctor, who will refer you to a Specialist if a problem is suspected.

Homes are a lot like people; they’re complicated, never perfect and they need maintenance as they get older. In Canada, on average, families move every seven years. Understanding the condition of a house and all of its systems is vital to your investment as a home buyer and owner. The services of a Home Inspector can help you reduce the risks of potential problems and expenses, assist you with crucial decision making, and provide you with a detailed report on the home that can also be used as a long term maintenance checklist.

A competent Home Inspector should have a strong technical knowledge of buildings, be a great communicator and investigator, and be diplomatic and unbiased in reporting the findings and conditions of a home. Your inspector has a duty of care to you, and this includes warning you of any limitations of the inspection, and the implications of any problems found in the home, including anything affecting your safety.

Home Inspectors should be specifically trained in home inspection. In Ontario, there are no mandatory requirements, laws or legislation for Home Inspectors, but they usually follow a Standards of Practice set out by an association, such as the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (www.oahi.ca). When looking for an Inspector, ask for credentials, background, and experience, and for any association membership/affiliation. As well, your Inspector should be fully insured with general liability and error and omissions insurance. Expect to pay about $350 for a basic inspection.

Be cautious of cash deals for “walk through” home inspections in which an inspection contract and written report are not offered. This is not a home inspection and there will be no accountability on behalf of the Inspector. This means you will never have a legal case in a court of law if a future problem occurs that you suspect should have been detected at the time of the inspection. Your home inspection report is the legal document that a judge will consider if you have a problem.

An experienced Home Inspector can provide you with valuable information in home ownership, maintenance and preservation in purchasing or selling a home, planning for renovations or trying to problem solve a home issue. A knowledgable Home Inspector can help you greatly reduce the potential risks involved in your greatest investment…your home.

By Larry Hogard