Purchasing a home is the biggest financial decision most people will ever make. Having a home inspection is one way to make sure you make a wise, informed decision. It will teach you about the structural integrity of your home and help you plan for the future.
Make sure when you buy a home that you have a clause saying the sale is contingent on a home inspection. This way if you learn of any major damage to the home, you’re free to walk away from the deal altogether.
We spoke with Normand LeBlanc of Pro Vision Inspection Services Inc. and asked him a few questions to make us all more knowledgeable on home inspections and the process. Normand is a Registered Home Inspector with CAHPI (Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors) and this is what he had to say.
Question. What are the most common issues you find in a house?
Answer. First off, a Home inspection consists of an in-field evaluation and professional opinion of the performance of the readily accessible installed systems and components in a home at one point in time.
- Electrical System
- Heating and Air Conditioning system
- Plumbing system
- Insulation and Vapour Barriers
- Mechanical and Natural Ventilation systems
If we talk Exterior, the most common issues found during an inspection would be grading, walkways or driveways sloping towards the house and downspouts discharging too close to the foundation. This invites water towards the house and can cause water infiltrations in the basement. Other common issues found at exterior would be inappropriate guardrails/height or handrails missing which are safety hazards.
If we talk Electrical Systems, the most common find would be multiple taps or overfusing at the electrical panel. Overfusing is a fire hazard and should be properly repaired asap by a certified electrician. Other common electrical finds would be reversed polarity outlets and missing or faulty GFCI where needed.
If we talk Heating/ Air Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation systems, well the most common find would be a unmaintained HRV/Air Exchanger (clogged intake grill, clogged filters and moldy core and condensation tube). Same with air conditioning or heat pumps (clogged filers or in need of cleaning/maintenance).
If we talk Plumbing, the most common find would be missing proper back flow preventer valves/gate valves on the sewer and storm sewer lines.
If we talk Insulation and Vapour Barriers, the most common find would be attics that could use upgrades by adding more insulation and ventilation, and attic access hatch with no insulation or weather strip.
If we talk interiors, the most common find would be missing handrails or guardrails, next in line would be windows that lost their seals between panes, or windows that do not meet egress.
If we talk Roofs, the most common find would be cupping, curling shingles, missing granular and torn or missing shingles.
If we talk Structure, the most common find would be cracks in foundation walls and concrete slabs, excessive/notching in floor joists, and at times moldy attics.
Question. How do you know when shingles need to be replaced?
Answer. Roofing shingles should be replaced when excessive cupping, curling, widened slots and missing granular of the shingles are noted.
Question. How do you keep water out of your basement?
Answer. Rule number one to keep water out of the basement is to make sure all grading, driveways, walkways are sloping away from the house. Also, extend the downspouts 4 to 6 feet away from the foundation. Most cracks that are noted during a Home Inspection are shrinkage cracks. Some cracks leak, and some do not. They can leak especially if you are inviting water towards them. That is why it is very important to follow rule number one. If a crack still leaks after following the rule, then a foundation expert can usually make the easy repair with a guarantee that it will no longer leak.
Question. What is aluminum wiring and what do you do to update/fix it?
Answer. Solid aluminum wiring has been banned in the electrical code since the early 1980's. Some or most electricians will say that there is nothing wrong with aluminum wiring, providing it was done properly! Most of the times, homeowner's do renovations in their house at one point and time and that is when we find aluminum electrical problems. Common aluminum wiring finds during a home inspection would be copper wiring in contact with aluminum wiring with no compound. Other issues would be loose or overheated contacts, and fixtures not rated for aluminum wiring. Those are all fire hazards. If a house has aluminum wiring, a certified electrician should be contacted to thoroughly assess and possibly discuss on proper upgrades.
Another thing to mention for aluminum wiring is to call your insurance company. Different insurance companies may have different criteria in order to insure the house.
Question. Egress windows
-Egress windows shall provide unobstructed openings with areas not less than 0.35 m2 (3.8ft2), with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 in.). The unobstructed opening must be measured between the window components (sashes, jambs, sills, opening mechanisms, etc.)
-It is recommended that the sill of windows intended for use as emergency exits is not higher than 1.5m above the floor. Windows in basement bedrooms should have improved access, for example, by installing built-in furniture below the window.
- Basement bedroom windows should comply with the same rules as above ground bedroom windows with the following addition when the window opens into a window well: Where a window required for a bedroom opens into a window well, a clearance of at least 760 mm (24 in.) (this dimension may vary by province) must be provided in front of the window. Where the sash swings toward the window well, the operation of the sash must not reduce the clearance in a manner that would restrict escape in an emergency.