Home Inspection in Canada

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What you Should Know

  • Buyers use home inspections to ensure they are not purchasing a house full of problems.
  • Sellers may also use a pre-listing inspection so they can make improvements before selling.
  • A home inspector will visually check your home to ensure it is safe and up to standards.
  • Some provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, dont have a provincially regulated home inspection association. Anyone can call themselves a home inspector.
  • It is best to find a home inspector through a professional association. Make sure to ask about their training to ensure they are qualified.

The most significant investment most people will ever make is purchasing a house. Before you buy, it's best to find out the property's condition and what repairs may be required. Hiring a professional home inspector to inspect a property can assist you in making an informed selection about its condition.

Some homeowners also have their homes inspected to get any defects fixed under their new home warranty before it runs out.

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What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a process where an inspector will go to your house and thoroughly assess the property, including electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

In closing a property sale, the buyer commonly hires a home inspector to come to the property and conduct a visual examination. The purpose is to make sure the buyer is not inheriting any expensive surprises when they purchase the property.

Typically, the buyer's inspection happens after they make an offer on the property. Within the purchase agreement, the buyer offers to finalize the deal depending on a favourable home inspection.

However, a seller will occasionally opt for a pre-listing inspection. This helps them get the best deal by fixing any easy issues before listing.

Home inspection checklist

A complete home inspection should review the following checklist. A great home inspector will;

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The Kitchen

  • Examine the countertops, sinks, and make sure all cabinet doors are functioning.
  • Examine the pipes beneath the sink to ensure they aren't leaking.
  • Fill each sink with water and make sure it flows correctly at the appropriate pressure.

The Bathrooms

  • Review the bathroom faucets; make sure water pressure is acceptable. Verify normal water colour, texture and heating.
  • Flush all of the toilets and look for blockages.
  • Ensure that bathroom sink water drains appropriately, as well as showers and baths.
  • If there are tiles, make sure they're in one piece with no cracks or dents.
  • Open all of the cabinets and cupboard doors to make sure they work correctly.

The Floors, Walls and Ceilings

  • Examine the flooring, walls, and ceilings for cracks, wear and water seepage over time.
  • Check the walls for any odd bumps or uneven surfaces. It is best to scrutinize each room.
  • Keep an eye out for discoloured sections of the walls. This could be caused by water that penetrates the walls, which causes stains.

The Windows and Doors

  • Check that all of the doors are securely fastened, that the latches are sturdy and in good working order, and that all locks work correctly.
  • Examine the windows for cracks or shattered glass.

The Basement (If There is One)

  • Examine the basement for any cracks or stains.
  • Verify that no water is seeping into the basement.
  • If wooden beams support the home, check to see whether they're operational and if there's any damage or deterioration.

The Attic (If There is One)

  • Inspect the building within it thoroughly and ensure there isn't any water damage.
  • Make sure that the attic is adequately insulated and ventilated to avoid deterioration over time.

Plumbing and Heating

  • Examine all of the heaters, electrical panels, wiring, faucets, and pipes to ensure operation.

The Exterior of the House

  • Examine the framework and walls on the outside of the house.
  • Take a good look at the driveway, the roof, the garage door (if there is one), and the garden to ensure that they are all up to expectations.

Home inspection cost and time

A typical home inspection will take approximately 3-5 hours and costs you about $300 to $500. This is a small investment to ensure that everything is running smoothly in your new house and help prevent any problems down the road.

Common issues found during home inspections

DescriptionPercentage FoundAverage Repair Price (CAD)
Doors need fixing54.9%$329
Faucets need servicing54.8%$344
Exterior calking is worn away54.5%$391
Outlets/ switches have deficiencies53.7%$313
No GFCI protection48.0%$546

Source: Repair Pricer

While there are various reasons for a home inspector to be concerned while doing a property inspection, specific problems are frequently discovered. Although more minor issues are common, it’s essential to be aware of more significant issues that you could encounter. Typical larger problems include;

Roofing Issues

A roof is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of a house, as it protects us from the weather and provides us with a sense of warmth and security. Roofing problems are all too prevalent, and fixing them can be costly. That's why you should make sure your new home's roof is in excellent working order.

A new roof will set you back at least $1.17 per square foot (including materials and installation). That's the low-end estimate for a new asphalt shingle roof, which is the most affordable option.

Issues With the House's Foundations

A shaky foundation can cause your house to collapse on itself. To avoid this dangerous scenario, home inspectors look for;

  • Cracks: Any cracks in brick walls and a basement wall crack that runs from floor to ceiling and doors that won't close properly.
  • Structural issues: signs of this include sagging floors, pooling water near a slab foundation, or a damp crawl space after rainfall.
  • Odours: Basement odours and uncomfortable indoor air quality are two signs that warn you of a problem.

However, not all foundation concerns are immediately linked to foundation damage and go undetected by the inexperienced eye. On average, in Canada, it can cost $2,700 to fix a foundation issue. That's not including the price of finding and removing the cause of the defect.

Plumbing, Heating and Electricity

These areas are often hidden from the blind eye. Several issues crop up in these areas ranging from insulation to water flow and more.

One of the most common things found during a home inspection is an inadequate electrical system. This can lead to dangerous house fires if not repaired.

In Canada, electrical repairs will cost you on average $1,000, depending on the size of your system.

Home inspections as a buyer

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As a buyer, typically, you would pay for the home inspection. Occasionally sellers will commission their own assessment to reassure purchasers early in the sales negotiations. However, a buyer should be cautious of a report paid for by the seller. It is always best to choose your inspector or one recommended by your real estate agent.

Attending the inspection

It is generally advised that the buyer and their real estate agent attend the inspection. This is the best way to get an accurate understanding of what you are buying and any potential problems. It can also be an opportunity for you to begin forming a relationship with your new home inspector. Your inspector will explain everything that they find and answer any questions that you may have.

Next steps

If minor or expected problems appear on the inspection report, then you should continue buying as planned. If you have more negotiation leverage - such as in a buyers market - you could choose to have the seller fix issues before closing.

These terms are included in the purchase agreement and are considered conditional offers. You may want to perform a walk-through inspection after the repairs have been performed to ensure that all items on your list were addressed.

Dealing with significant and unforeseen issues

Discovering a big issue with a house before buying can be bittersweet. On the one hand, it saved you tons of money. However, you may have liked the place. If you want to continue buying the property, you'll need lots of information to help you negotiate.

To proceed with buying, you'll need:

  1. More inspections: A competent home inspector will not always be an expert on any aspect of building construction. A specialist, such as a structural engineer, should examine the condition of the property to determine what repairs and costs are necessary to address the issues.
  2. Negotiating: As a pre-condition of purchasing the property, you'll need to submit a request for repairs. If you buy the property in its current condition, the seller may agree to reduce the price. Alternatively, before closing, the seller may agree to repair any issues.
  3. Following up: After the repairs have been made, the same inspector should come back to review their quality.

Using home inspection information after buying

Although home inspection helps you understand a home before buying it, they can help you after closing too. A home inspection report provides you with valuable information that can help you to improve and maintain your home.

For example, if the report noted that your furnace is 20 years old, then you'll know to start planning for the replacement.

Additionally, your home inspection can help you determine the home insurance policy you choose to buy. If your report detailed a leaky basement and you live in an area that's prone to flooding, then it could be a good idea to invest in comprehensive flood insurance.

Home inspections as a seller

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Although a buyer will typically pay for a home inspection, a seller can commission a pre-listing review. This will help the buyer make quick repairs before listing their property.

As a seller, it's in your best interest to provide quick and easy access for the home inspector. To best help them complete their home inspection list, you should;

  1. Provide keys for necessary equipment that locks (electrical panel).
  2. Ensure pilot lights are on for fireplaces and furnaces.
  3. Keep the basement clean to enable an unobstructed path towards the furnace/water heater/ HVAC.
  4. If necessary, keep the attic clean.
  5. Make sure the inspector has easy access to your crawl space, drainage outlets, or septic tank by cleaning up critical areas in your yard.
  6. Ensure all utilities are connected, especially for vacant homes.

Understanding issues are normal

A home inspection report without any issues is scarce. In many cases, it's normal for an inspection report to have multiple pages of defects. However, a proactive homeowner could selectively solve easy, fast, and cheap problems to fix.

This isn't the time to do significant projects. However, you may as well take advantage of any quick wins that are accessible. This strategy can drastically shorten the number of pages that turn up in a report. As a result, the seller will have more leverage to close the sale quickly.

Getting the best report

First impressions matter and a clean, pleasant house is paramount to starting your inspection off on the right foot.

As a home seller, you have likely already cleaned your home for staging. However, look around more defects such as cracked glass, loose doorknobs, or wear and tear resulting from tours. Also, look to see if you are due for any servicing, such as your HVAC system.

How to hire a home inspector

Rather than guessing what to look for, there are two strategies to finding a quality inspector. A home is a significant investment, so you should make sure you are getting the best inspector. In general, you can either receive a trusted recommendation or contact a local inspectors association.

Receiving a recommendation

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Talk to individuals you know who have used a house inspector. Inquire about their experience. Was there anything wrong with the property that the home inspector discovered? A quality real estate agent in your area will also know how to hire a reputable home inspector.

No matter how recommended an inspector is, it would help if you did your due diligence when choosing to hire them. In general, you should inquire about;

  • License: Ask the inspector to show you their licence. Alberta and BC inspectors are required to be provincially licensed.
  • Education: Learn about the inspector's education, experience, and qualifications. This is important for Ontario and Quebec inspectors considering they do not need a provincial licence.
  • References: Ask the inspector for three recent customers. Talk to the customers about their comments and if they recommend the inspector.

Contacting an association

You may also try contacting home inspector associations for a list of members. When talking to an agency, It is best to ask the following questions:

  • What is the process for becoming a licensed inspector?
  • Is there any special training, qualifications, education, or experience necessary to join the association?
  • What will the association do if you have a problem with one of its members?

If you plan on hiring an inspector through an association, we have included provincial requirements and reputable associations in the next section.

Home inspections in Edmonton and Calgary

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Alberta requires all home inspectors to have a provincially regulated license with Service Alberta. Inspectors must complete an approved course or obtain membership with a specific industry association. Reputable websites to find a home inspector include:

Home inspections in Ottawa and Toronto

In Ontario, there is currently no requirement for a provincial license to operate as a home inspector. However, inspectors must adhere to rules governing their field, such as contracts and fair trade standards.

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However, most home inspectors choose to complete a training program that provides them with experience. Some reputable programs and associations include:

Home inspections in Vancouver

All home inspectors in British Columbia are now required to be provincially licensed by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA).

Candidates must pass through a rigorous process. Initially, they will need to complete 150 hours minimum of classroom time with an additional 50 hours of home inspections with an approved trainer. Amongst other criteria, there are multiple exams. To find a qualified home inspector in BC, you can consult the following resources;

Home inspections in Montreal

Anyone can call themselves a home inspector in Quebec. This is because no provincially regulated body oversees home inspectors in the province.

However, some home inspectors choose to complete a program or join an association to prove quality in their work. As a result, its best to consider hiring a Quebec home inspector through the following associations:

Home inspection vs. home appraisal

A home appraisal will value the home you are buying. Mortgage lenders must assess this when providing you with amortgage in Canada.

However, an appraisal is more concerned with the size, location, and general condition of the home. It will not reveal specific information about the home's condition.

While an inspector will crawl around your basement and climb onto your roof, an appraiser won't do the same. This is why it's essential to hire a home inspector when buying a home to find hidden damages.

The Bottom Line

A home inspection is a great way to avoid getting scammed by the seller and protect yourself from any potential disasters that could be lurking just around the corner. It's worth it if you're concerned about the safety and want to know more about the overall health of your house.

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