Home inspections are an important component of real estate transactions for buyers and they can save you thousands of dollars and headaches down the road. As recently as a few months ago most home buyers decided to forego the home inspection because the GTA housing market was an extreme seller’s market, and most homes were sold through bidding wars so it was impossible for buyers to include an inspection condition in their offer if they wanted a chance of buying a property. Some buyers opted to have an inspector check the property out prior to the offer presentation date, however, if you lost in several bidding wars the cost could become significant.
The market has turned since its peak in April and now properties are sitting longer on the market, gone are the days of frenzied bidding wars and firm offers (for the most part). It is highly recommended for buyers to go back to including a condition of inspection & financing if you are the only offer on the table.
What exactly is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the condition of the home that you are intending on buying. In the GTA this process usually takes approximately three hours, although I’ve heard of inspectors going through a large house in less than an hour, (typically bargain price inspectors, I would stay away from them) during which time the home is examined from the ground up. The inspection includes observation and, when appropriate, the operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components: roof, attic, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls and doors. Findings are usually provided to you in the form of a report, together with a recommended action for any problems the inspector may have found. It is vital that such a report includes an objective evaluation of the condition of the home, clearly relating existing defects and indicating potential problems.
A home inspection report is NOT a warranty! Because a home inspection is a visual examination of the home and operating systems, it is not technically exhaustive. There is no assurance, expressed or implied, that equipment will not break down at some future date. A home inspection does not detect every flaw. It is only an inspection of those areas and items that can be seen. Home inspectors cannot see through foundation, floors or walls, and cannot inspect areas that are inaccessible and generally do not move furniture, boxes or any other items so it is important to request that the seller makes the home as accessible as possible.
What are the benefits of an inspection to the buyer :
A home inspection can help you avoid costly and unpleasant repairs and it can provide you with peace of mind. If you make an offer conditional on the home inspection and you find “major” problems during the inspection you have several options. One of them is to re-negotiate the price or you can walk away from the deal entirely. I had a case recently where the home inspector found kitec plumbing in the Etobicoke condo unit my clients were buying. Kitec plumbing is a type of flexible aluminum and polyethylene piping, often orange or blue in colour. It was widely used in condominiums between 1995 and 2007.It was marketed as a corrosion-resistant alternative to copper pipes and fittings but was recalled around 2005 due to a tendency to corrode at an accelerated rate. Due to the findings of the home inspector we were able to avoid a costly repair bill for the buyers down the road, quoted at $6,000 by a contractor, and renegotiated a lower price.
An inspection will also help you identify minor problems and it will give you good insight on maintenance you need to do to keep your home in good condition. As a note, EVERY resale home will have minor problems, and I personally do not recommend trying to renegotiate the price based on these issues as that has a tendency to complicate matters unnecessarily.
Be present for the inspection (if possible)
By being present during the inspection you will gain additional insight into the home’s condition along with good first-hand tips on what to the inspector you will gain additional insight into the home’s condition. It will also give you more insight into key components throughout the property and it gives you an opportunity to talk to the inspector in person. A lot of times an inspection report may sound distressing even though the problem is superficial. The inspector can also point out maintenance needs and procedures and explain how and when to check items that are in need of periodic monitoring.