Is your home inspection out of date?

As the years go by, buildings start to change

Mike Holmes
National Post
September 24, 2011

Most people think about getting a home inspection when they buy a house, and with good reason. I think anyone who buys a house without paying for a professional home inspection is crazy.

Some people even decide to get a home inspection when it’s time to sell their homes. That’s also a good practice, as far as I’m concerned. A pre-listing inspection lets the seller and buyer know exactly what they’re getting into before they exchange hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I’m here to tell you there’s a third time you might want to think about getting a home inspection: today.

If you’ve lived in your home for more than three years, chances are the original home inspection you had done when you first bought the property is out of date. You’ve probably spent a bit of time and money renovating some parts of the house, while others have escaped your to-do list and gone neglected. The bottom line: Things have probably changed and your original inspection is outdated.

If you want to know the shape your home is in, you should think about getting a maintenance inspection. It can tell you a lot about the current condition of your home, and also give you an up-to-date schedule of the items that need to be repaired in order to maintain and increase your home’s value. Sure, there’s a cost when it comes to getting a maintenance inspection, but let’s be clear: Hundreds spent on an inspection today could save you thousands on re-building a chimney, buying a new furnace or fixing a major bathroom leak tomorrow.

The benefits of a maintenance inspection  Think of a maintenance inspection as a list of repairs that need to be done to your home over the next three years. A qualified, professional home inspector will carry out the inspection with the same impartiality as he or she would if you were buying the home for the first time. And when the inspector finishes, you’ll receive a detailed report that lists the areas of your home that need repair.

That’s nothing new to anyone who’s paid for a home inspection in the past. The real benefit of a maintenance inspection is that it gives you advice on how to approach repairs. The inspector’s report will tell you what work needs to be done and when, and will usually give you a rough estimate of the cost to repair each item.

Just as important, a maintenance inspection gives you the power to deal openly and fairly with contractors. It helps you to speak using a contractor’s language and be as precise as possible about the work you need done. I’ve heard stories from dozens of people who’ve been oversold on work, just because they didn’t understand what they were buying from a contractor. (This kind of thing doesn’t just happen when people take their cars in for repairs; it happens to homeowners, too.) A properly written maintenance inspection will give you a good idea of the extent of work that needs to be done to your home, which means you’re a lot less likely to be oversold on work you just don’t need.

A maintenance inspection could be even more thorough than the inspection you got when you first bought your home. You might not know it, but home inspectors are only allowed to inspect a home’s accessible systems and components. In other words, a house vendor can move tables, appliances and framed pictures to hide water stains, cracks and drywall imperfections before a pre-sale inspection. But during a maintenance inspection, you can let all your home’s flaws and imperfections hang out. In fact, it’s even better if you insist that your inspector gets up on the roof, into the attic, and down in the basement crawl space — and make it as easy as possible for him or her to do so. Remember, the goal is to get the most complete picture of your home’s repair needs.

An ounce of prevention  Your home is probably the biggest single investment you will ever make in your life. You need to protect that asset. The best way to do that is through a regular schedule of preventive maintenance. And the best way to create that schedule is by having a maintenance inspection done today.

The old saying rings true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The few hundred dollars you spend on an inspection today will help you fix minor problems before they lead to costly repairs tomorrow. Not only can it extend the life of your home’s essential systems, but will help you conserve energy and cut down on expensive utility bills. In other words, it’s money well spent, because it’s money you’re investing back into your home. And to me, that’s just smart.

Catch Mike on Holmes Inspection, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit

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Roger Townsend

Roger Townsend

CENTURY 21 People's Choice Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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