What to Look for in a Home Inspection

A man inspecting an attic
Jane Pinzhoffer

Jane Pinzhoffer

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If you’re shopping for a home in a seller’s market, you may not have the opportunity to get a home inspection, but if you can, you should.

There’s a certain risk for the seller when it comes to putting their home into conditional status because, during that time, most buyers aren’t viewing the house and will probably start looking at other homes. It means the seller is missing opportunities. Also, many conditions provide a buyer with cold feet to pull out of the deal, even if the reason isn’t directly related to the condition… it can be hard to impossible to prove.

Home Inspector Certifications and Experience

Currently, in Ontario, home inspectors are not required to be licensed. Some courses offer certification, but they’re not regulated or mandatory.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

A typical inspection of a 2,000-square-foot home takes about 2 to 3 hours and costs around $500. Variables affecting the cost include the types of services provided, the house’s age, and the house’s size; larger homes and more services could reasonably see the cost increase upwards of $1000 or more.

How to Hire the Right Home Inspector

  • Ask your real estate agent. Most will have a few trusted home inspectors they work with
  • Consider an established brand
  • Check out Google reviews
  • Ask for suggestions on your local community Facebook group

Who Not to Hire

In all our years, every time a client brings their handy dad, their aunt the electrician, or their cousin the carpenter, they do 1/10th of what a home inspector would do –things get missed. Add the risk of damaging your relationship if something is overlooked, and it’s obvious that this is a bad idea. Hire a pro.

Red Flags in Home Inspections and a Buyers’ Options

In most homes, an inspection will not reveal anything so disastrous that the deal falls through. In most cases, problems are manageable, or an agreement can be struck between the buyer and seller. Older homes may have a lot of issues; building materials may contain asbestos, the electrical system may include some aluminum or knob and tube wiring, and some Kytec in the plumbing system. Most home components have changed a lot over the years, and you want someone familiar with all aspects of a home, from the foundation to the attic.

A good home inspector will also point out areas where the feature or type of construction used at the time of construction was to code then but not now, making suggestions on how to improve the house to today’s standards –this is common and shouldn’t be a deal breaker, rather an opportunity for you to pick away at improving the home.

Here are Adrian’s proactive maintenance tips to look out for in a home inspection

How to Deal With a Bad Home Inspection

When it comes to home inspections, buyers generally have three options:

  • Accept the home as is
  • Walk away from the deal completely
  • Have the seller remedy the deficiencies or renegotiate the terms

Ariel had to walk away from a deal ONE TIME in 11 years, find out what caused it.

Mistakes Realtors Make with Home Inspections

Some realtors may opt to insert a clause for the seller to repair a deficiency revealed during the inspection, but vague writing leaves too much up for interpretation in terms of who does the job, how it will be done, etc.  When writing a clause to have a home owner remedy a problem with the house, consider including wording to address the following:

  1. Who is completing the repair? Is the home owner able to do it? Do they have to hire a specific company? Do they have to hire somebody with a particular certification?
  2. When will the repair be done? Does the job need to be done before a change in season? Does it need to be done immediately to avoid potential damage? Do you need sufficient time to inspect it prior to closing?
  3. Be specific about what is to be done, and how.

In most cases, Ariel prefers to renegotiate a lower price to offset the cost of repairs, or a reasonable portion of it. The buyer can then handle the repair on their own, choosing a company of their liking and repairing it to their level of quality.

Consider this when buying a house with a pool

When you find a knowledgeable real estate agent, they’ll have connections to a good home inspector who will prepare a report with a summary that details what needs to be done in the home. An experienced realtor should be able to estimate the cost to do most repairs, and will provide contacts to professionals for more accurate estimations when needed.

Sometimes there will be things that need to be addressed immediately due to safety issues, while other problems are less urgent and can be done in the future.

What to Look for in a Home Inspection

  1. First and foremost, is there anything that can be negotiated to save you some money? You’ve gone this far, and perhaps the seller will find a minor discount reasonable if you have a laundry list of small repairs or perhaps greater if you have a serious problem.
  2. Are there any items that weren’t blatantly obvious? It’s harder to negotiate the price or terms further when using things like a missing front step you should have known about before submitting an offer.  Look for less obvious things, perhaps even things that the current owner isn’t aware of.
  3. Beware of shady sellers trying to cover things up.

Knowing the condition of a property makes it much easier to make an informed decision and lowers the risk of unwanted and costly surprises.

At the end of the day, if you can get a home inspection, do.  When spending hundreds or millions of dollars, a thousand bucks is a worthwhile investment.

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