Buying a home is a major event in most people's lives. Often, homebuyers are so caught up in the excitement that they can easily overlook any flaws their new home may have. However, a house is also one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to make so it's best to know as much as possible about potential problems before you make a commitment to buy.
The British Columbia Real Estate Association recommends homebuyers hire a professional home inspector to thoroughly check out the property before purchase. A home inspection can give you the peace of mind of knowing what to expect and help you make an informed decision about the value of the home and the future upkeep.
Not only will a home inspection help you determine the condition of the house, its structural soundness, and its mechanical systems but it also brings any issues or problems to the Seller's attention at a time when they can be resolved before closing a sale.
If you are making an offer on a house before it's inspected, talk to your REALTOR® about including a clause that the sale is contingent upon a satisfactory structural inspection and specify when the inspection is to be carried out. That way, you are protected.
What's included in a home inspection?
A home inspector will go through the property and perform a comprehensive visual inspection. A typical inspection includes an examination of the structure from top to bottom, including the heating, air conditioning systems, the interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof and the visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement and visible structure.
If you can spare the time, it's a good idea to accompany the inspector during this process. This will give you, the potential Purchaser, the opportunity to learn about any problems first-hand and become more familiar with your new house at the same time. The inspector may also be able to share some valuable maintenance tips with you during the inspection.
Following the examination, the inspector will provide a report that not only points out possible defects or areas of concern but also the positive aspects of the structure as well as the type of maintenance that will be necessary to keep the home in good shape. The home inspector should be willing to answer any questions you have as well as clarify any limitations of the inspection to avoid misunderstandings. Avoid firms that issue only a verbal report. The report should be more than a checklist of the items inspected. The home inspector should also issue a written report with accurate cost estimates for any major defects discovered during the inspection.
A professional assessment will provide complete information about the condition of the property you are considering and will help avoid any unpleasant surprises after the sale. In addition, a home inspector can remain totally objective while you, as the prospective homebuyer, may be emotionally involved.
A home inspection usually lasts about three hours. The inspection fee for a typical single-family house can vary depending upon the geographic area. The particular features of the home such as size, age and special structures will also be taken into consideration.
Hiring an Inspector
Inspectors are often professionally licensed in building-related fields; architects, contractors, and structural engineers are good examples. When interviewing a potential home inspection firm, carefully inquire about the specifics of their work and company. Ask how long they have been in business and ask for references from previous customers. Find out what type of insurance they carry and do they guarantee inspections?
The most reliable indication of a home inspector's qualifications is membership in the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. To become a member of this association, inspectors must meet professional and educational requirements, successfully complete comprehensive exams and practice professionally during a trial period followed by a review. Members must also meet annual education requirements to maintain their membership.
A decision to have a home inspection is a good investment. You could save many times the cost of the inspection by becoming aware of defects, maintenance requirements and potential future upgrade requirements. There are many home inspection companies available and your REALTOR® can probably recommend several to you or you can contact the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors for a list of their local members.
I am the GUY that will make a difference!
I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.
Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty