Some thoughts and misconceptions about home inspections, brought to you by guest blogger Brian Wrightson of Canadian Residential Inspection Services
1.Homes sold "as-is" don't need an inspection
True, but can you live with what "Is"? How do you know what "as-is" includes without a home inspection? The seller must disclose known defects, but what about defects that are undiscovered? The inspection will give you a more complete picture of the conditions of your chosen home, beyond the sellers disclosure. A home is a significant purchase, and the home inspection is an important tool to help you determine if you are making a sound investment
2. A home can pass or fail an inspection
The inspection will be a useful too in making a purchase decision. A home inspector cannot advise on your willingness to renovate (or not), repair (or not), live with inconvenience (or not), or to invest in the long term (or want and need "move in ready"). Our responsibility as Home Inspectors is to let the "house speak". A home inspection must be an unbiased assessment of the visible condition of the home.
You can change everything about a home except its location. You need to judge for yourself how much you are willing to spend on updates, what shortcomings (if any) you are willing to live with, and whether the home you have chosen fits your criteria. A qualified inspector will no offer their opinion on whether or not you should purchase the home. To do so is a severe breach of ethics. Only YOU, the home-buyer, can decide if the home has passed the home inspection.
3. The seller has to fix everything the home inspector found
In fact, with few exceptions for municipal code compliance, the seller is not require to make repairs to the home. The inspection report is an assessment of the state of the home at the time of inspection. This may include critical issues such as water infiltration, maintenance items to extend the life and function of the home, and operational items such as indentifying the location of the main water shutoff valve. It is NOT a fix-it list for the home seller.
If the inspection turns up significant defects, is is a good idea to talk to your Realtor to negotiate what, if anything, the seller is willing to fix or contribute toward repairs. NOTE: Ensure any repairs are completed by a reputable tradesman.
4. My "Brother-in-law" will look at things for me
I am sure you, your brother in-law, or your Uncle Bob know plenty about homes. You should bring him along to your second showing where you decide if you might like to put in an offer on your chosen home. He could be able to give you a good idea of the condition of the home and maybe even spot a major defect. A 20 minute "look around" is NOT a home inspection.
Realtors are not likely to allow a visitor to poke around for 2 hours or more without a license or insurance. Consider whether you will be in the best position to renegotiate based on "my Uncle says the roof needs to be replaced.." You will need a qualified, licensed, and insured home inspector and a professionally written inspection report.
5. New homes don't need an inspection
It is true that building codes have become more stringent in recent years and that they are often designed with safety in mind. However, the municipal code inspector rarely spends a couple of hours closely inspecting the home. Just as the home inspector does not do a code inspection, the municipal inspector does not survey the details as done by the home inspector. Their mandate is code violation not operations. "The builder is going to do a walk-thru with me so I don't need an inspection".
Ask, "who does the quality control function for the builder?" this is not the prevue of the municipal inspector. While many builders do not allow inspections during the building process due to liability issues (or is it merely an excuse), that does not mean that the home cannot be inspected after you move in. It is common for new homes to be sold with a 1 year warranty. Make use of your warranty by having the home inspected in the 11th month.
6. I'm getting an appraisal so I don't need a home inspection
The appraiser is working for the lender. An appraisal is a value assessment and is performed for the benefit of your mortgage lender to protect their interests. A home inspection is performed for their client too - most often the home buyer. A home inspector will inspect the home from roof to foundation and report on the conditions of structural and mechanical systems. The process often takes 3 or more hours. Does the roof need replacement? Is the foundation solid? Is there water intrusion? These are questions your appraiser would not normally address, while it is the focus of the inspector.Seldom is a home inspection a requirement but it is a safeguard for the buyer or the owner.