As a real estate agent I always suggest a home inspection. Keep in mind that not all home inspections and home inspectors are created equal. A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the condition of the home performed by a qualified home inspector. By qualified you should look for someone from a reputable company that’s been in business for a number of years and carries errors and omissions insurance. In Canada you should also look for an inspector that is part of a professional organization such as the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors.
For investors getting a home inspection is important before jumping in so as to identify any unforeseen repairs that a property might need. Repairs mean more cost, and cost means taking a bite out of profit. For owner occupiers an inspection can allow you to take more control over the negotiating process and ultimately the purchase price. It also allows you to avoid unexpected remediation that could put a strain on your ability to upkeep the home and service the debt used to finance the home. The last thing you want to buy is a money pit.
A professional home inspection should go through about 1000 points on around 400 different items on the home. The items inspected involve the operation and observation of all the systems in a home including but not limited to the plumbing, heating, electrical, interior finish, structural components, and outside envelope. While a thorough inspection can take about 3-4 hours, the home owner and buyer’s real estate agent should be present at the end to take a walk though with the inspector and discuss firsthand the condition of the property’s main components. This is also a good opportunity to talk about what might appear to be a serious problem on paper in the report, but in reality may be fairly superficial. On top of the verbal report back, also make sure that you receive all the findings in writing, as they prove useful for documenting accountabilities and concerns, as well as the ongoing maintenance of the property.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are limitations to a home inspection as it’s impossible to see through walls, under floors, beyond the foundation, and any other area that isn’t accessible without causing major damage to the home to get there. If there do appear to be concerns with major areas that need further investigation, it’s recommended that you hire a specialist in that area. For example if there are cracks in the foundation you might want to hire a structural engineer, or if the property is serviced by a well or septic system showing signs of dysfunction, that you hire professionals specific to those areas of expertise to assess those systems. If you have hired a good home inspector on the first place, they will recommend where additional expertise is needed.
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