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7 Things Home Buyers Should Know about Home Inspections

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7 Things Home Buyers Should Know about Home Inspections
4 min. read

Image: Mike Focus / Shutterstock.com

A home inspection is typically carried out after you’ve made an offer on a house and it is intended to give you a firm idea of the state of the home you’re interested in buying. It’s important to know a few things about the home inspection as it’s easy to assume that it’s something you have little control over. The more you know, the more you can use a home inspection to your advantage. Check out the following 7 things all buyers should know.

What is a Home Inspection?

First and foremost, it’s a good idea to know what a home inspection is. Basically, it’s an onsite inspection of a home carried out by a professional who will give their opinion as to the state of the house. This primarily visual examination is intended to detect defects within the home’s appliances and structural integrity. The assessment also focuses on components nearing the end of their life, have suffered damage due to neglect, and are deemed unsafe. The findings will be compiled in a written report looking primarily at the following components:

  • Roof
  • Structure
  • Exterior
  • Electrical systems
  • Heating and Air Conditioning systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Insulation and Air/Vapour Barriers
  • Interior
  • Mechanical and Natural Ventilation systems

What it’s Not

It’s worth remembering that a home inspection will not result in an insurance policy or extended warranty, and is only an advisory procedure to help you make a decision whether the home is worth buying. The inspector will not carry out any invasive or damaging examinations, nor are they there to carry out an energy audit. Certain components are usually excluded from the inspection, including pools, outbuildings, cosmetics, and TV/internet systems.

You Can Find Your Own Inspector

Most people will just ask their real estate agent to find them a home inspector, however, you could find one that best matches your needs yourself. Like in any profession, home inspectors come with varying degrees of experience and expertise. Look for fully qualified and certified inspectors and seek out those who can offer additional services including air quality testing. This can help you detect issues that wouldn’t normally be picked up in a typical inspection, such as hazardous house dust or radon.

It’s a good idea to ask a potential inspector to send over a sample report in advance. By going over this, you can be sure that your own report will be understandable and thorough enough to act upon. Good reports have photos and recommendations for how to address any issues that have been determined.

A Proper Inspection Takes Time

It should take anywhere between 2 and 4 hours to thoroughly inspect a mid-sized home. If your inspection takes significantly less time, red flags should be popping up. In this case, speak to your inspector directly, or ask your agent to get in touch to find out why the inspection was so short. Some very small houses without basements might not take too long, but always be wary of inspections that are completed in under an hour and provide just a skeleton report.

You’re Encouraged to Tag Along

Most of us spend just a few minutes touring our potential new home, but by joining the inspector you will see all the ins and outs of the house you’re planning to call home. This gives you great insight into the home, and by shadowing the inspector, you can learn a lot about how various systems work and what issues to look out for. Your real estate agent is also welcome to join to prevent any miscommunication further down the line.

There are Limitations

There are limits to what an inspector can do while inspecting a house so it’s worth knowing what these limits are. They cannot move furniture, or look behind drywall or flooring to check defects, and they cannot cause any damage to the house in an attempt to reveal a potential issue. This makes it easy for sellers to hide defects such as mold behind furniture or under a rug. Be wary of unusually placed items, freshly painted walls, and anything else that might hide an issue the inspector cannot see.

While inspectors will inspect the roof, they will normally do it from the ground, rather than going up there. This could result in them missing potential issues that can cost thousands to repair. They’re also not required to carry out air quality tests. You can pay extra to have such potential issues addressed, however.

Reading the Full Report is Important

Most people simply read the report summary to get an idea of what shape the house is in. However, the summary typically only highlights the larger issues. Within the report, you can find information regarding smaller defects that over time can add up and cost you time and money to repair.

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