While it’s not mandatory, a home inspection is something that the vast majority of potential buyers will arrange prior to closing on the transaction. Here’s what to expect when you hire a professional home inspector and tips on how you can prepare for your home inspection.
» MORE: Guide for first-time home buyers
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is an assessment of a house’s current condition. It’s a visual inspection in which a professional home inspector goes through the entire home and examines everything, including the roof, chimney, gutters, walls, windows, doors and more. They will also look at the electrical, heating and ventilation systems, and the plumbing and insulation. The goal of a home inspection is to assess whether a home is safe, in good condition, and livable before the buyer goes ahead with the home purchase.
A home cannot “fail” a home inspection. But it may merely reveal major issues, minor issues, or no issues at all. The buyer will receive the home inspector’s findings and can use them to decide whether or not they want to buy the home.
Why do I need a home inspection?
There are two main reasons to get a home inspection.
First, a potential buyer commonly orders the home inspection before the official paperwork is signed to close on the home. The purpose of a home inspection is to make sure the house is safe and livable and to establish any potential concerns or necessary repairs, which may affect how much the home is worth or whether you want to buy it at all.
As a buyer, you can ask your real estate agent or broker to submit an offer with a contingency clause based on the home inspection. This way, if the report comes back as less than favourable, you can rescind your offer and back out. If the buyer orders the home inspection, they will pay for it.
Second, a seller may also want to have a home inspection done before listing their home. This process will help the seller determine whether they need to address any issues or make any repairs before putting the house on the market. In this case, the seller pays for the home inspection, but they are not obligated to show the results to any potential buyers.
» BUYING A HOME? Make sure you plan for closing costs
How to choose a home inspector
Approach choosing a home inspector the same way you would choose any other professional. Ask friends, family members or even your real estate agent for referrals, and take the time to read online reviews of the inspectors you’re considering.
A positive review or referral goes a long way, but you should also consider a few other factors when choosing your home inspector:
- Qualifications, certifications, and any special training
- Knowledge of building codes
- Years of experience inspecting homes
- Any related work experience
If you want to go one step further, you can also ask if they are a member of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (known as CAHPI). Individuals who are registered members of this organization have to follow strict codes and standards.
» MORE: How to choose a mortgage lender
What to expect from your home inspection
Once you have chosen a home inspector, they will make an appointment to visit the home in question. The inspection itself typically lasts two to three hours and you’re allowed to be there during the process, though it’s not required. You can also ask your real estate agent to be present.
What do you home inspectors look for?
The home inspector will do a thorough visual examination of the indoor and outdoor components of your potential new home, including the structure and systems, such as heat and electricity. The inspector will identify any problems, needed repairs, evidence of past issues, and anything that might need to be updated or is considered unsafe.
The scope of the inspection also depends on outside variables. For example, if the home inspection takes place in the winter and the roof is covered in snow, don’t expect the inspector to climb up on the slippery roof to get a better look; they will do their best to judge from a safe vantage point on the ground. If any big problems are found, the inspector might suggest an additional evaluation.
How much does a home inspection cost?
The cost of a home inspection depends on the home’s location, age and size. It will also vary by province, but you can expect to pay around $500 for a home inspection in Canada.
» DISCOVER: Popular types of homes in Canada
Home inspection checklist
If you’re selling your home and the potential buyer organizes a home inspection, it helps to know what to expect. Since the goal is for the home inspection to go as smoothly as possible, you might want to do a mini DIY home inspection first so you can prepare and perhaps even fix any minor issues before the professional inspector comes.
Here’s how to prepare for your home inspection:
- Thoroughly clean your home, which immediately makes a good impression.
- Leave all interior doors unlocked since the inspector has the right to look in every room.
- Make sure that there is unobstructed access to the attic hatch, electrical panel, furnace, hot water tank, main water line and air exchanger.
- Unclog any slow drains in sinks or showers, and make sure there are no leaks.
- Trim any bushes or trees that are too close to the roof or foundation.
- Have paperwork ready to document any recent checkups of your heating and air conditioning systems.
- Ensure all electrical systems are working properly.
- Ensure all doors and windows open, close and lock properly.
- Repair any cracks or issues in the outdoor masonry.
Finally, you should make arrangements so that you, your family members and any pets are out of the way during the home inspection.