Home Maintenance Seasonal Checklist

Just like routine checkups with your doctor or dentist, having a regular maintenance schedule for your home is vitally important for the health and longevity of your home. Routinely evaluating the state of your home’s exterior, heating and cooling system, plumbing, appliances, electrical system, foundation, roof, and windows and doors will help to keep your home looking great, prevent problems, and save you money in the long run.  

We’ve compiled a list of routine home maintenance tasks which will help you to schedule seasonal cleaning, repairs, and updates, as well as tasks that should be completed every month. It is important to revisit this list regularly, as well as at the change of seasons to ensure your home is in the best condition possible. If you discover that any of the repairs or maintenance tasks are beyond your skill or comfort level, consider hiring a professional to help with those.  

The fall can be an ideal time to tackle some routine home maintenance tasks because the weather is typically quite dry and the temperatures are usually moderate. Read on to discover our seasonal home improvement tasks for the fall: 

Have your Furnace and Heating System Inspected – Before the cold weather sets in, have your forced-air heating system and furnace inspected by a professional. It is best to schedule an inspection in the fall before the heating season begins. 

Check Any Fireplaces for Signs of Damage or Hazards – Examine any fireplaces for signs of damage or hazards and consider having a professional inspect and clean the chimney and fireplace flue before using it for the season. 

Clean your Windows and Screens – It is a great idea to clean the exterior of your windows and screens before the winter arrives.  

Seal Any Cracks or Gaps in the Doors or Windows – The fall is the time to seal any cracks and gaps in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping. This will help to prevent cold drafts and high heating bills in the winter months. 

Consider Replacing Older Windows – You may need to consider swapping out old, drafty windows for newer and more energy-efficient options. 

Power Wash, Repair, and Touch Up Siding and Exterior with Paint – Fall offers a great time to clean up the exterior of your home. Take some time to power wash the brick or siding of the exterior of your home, watching for signs of damage. Repair any damage and touch up with paint as needed.  

Inspect Your Roof – You don’t want to wait for the cold and wet months to find out your roof is damaged or leaking. Inspect all roofing for any missing, loose, or damaged shingles and potential leaks. 

Clean out Your Gutters and Downspouts – Fall means lots of leaves on the ground, and in your gutters. Leaves can clog up your gutters which can result in overflowing gutters and downspouts which in turn can damage your home and the foundation.  

Replace Batteries in your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – It is important to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Batteries should be replaced every 3-4 months. It is essential to ensure that you install a smoke detector on every floor of the home, including the basement. 

Inspect your Water Heater – Visually inspect your water heater for any signs of rust or damage. Consider having it inspected by a professional at least once per year.  

Drain and Store / Insulate Outdoor Plumbing Fixtures – Fall is the ideal time to drain and store outdoor hoses, as well as drain your in-ground sprinkler system. This is also the perfect time to wrap insulation around any outdoor faucets and/or pipes in unheated garages. 

Clean and Tune Up Major Appliances Before the Holidays – You don’t want to wait until it’s time to put in the Christmas turkey to discover that your oven needs to be serviced! Fall is a great time to clean your major appliances and ensure they are in perfect working order.  

Have your Dryer and Heating Ducts Cleaned Out – This is a very important task, as neglected dryer vents can be a major fire hazard. You also want to make sure all your heating vents are clean and clear of any dust, pet hair, and other debris.  

Check for Any Frayed or Damaged Wires and Cords – Do a visual inspection of all wires and cords in your home, looking carefully for signs of damage, and any wires that may be frayed or need to be replaced.  

When in Doubt – Call a Home Inspector!  

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of tackling the tasks listed above, or simply want to leave those jobs to a professional, your best option is to hire an experienced home inspector. A home inspector will do a thorough examination of the interior and exterior of your home and will pay special attention to any areas that may pose a health or safety concern or need to be replaced. A qualified and knowledgeable home inspector knows exactly what to look for when inspecting a home, and will likely catch things that the regular homeowner might miss. Hiring a home inspector can save you a mountain of stress, time, and money in the long run. Contact us at Building Insights today to schedule a home inspection. We will go above and beyond to ensure your home is completely ready and safe for the cold winter months ahead.  


Fall Landscaping

As the seasons begin to change again, and the cooler fall weather is arriving, this is the perfect time to spend some time outside preparing your yard and garden for the coming winter months. While many people think of spring as the season to work in your yard, professional landscapers and home inspectors know that the fall is the best time to work in the yard, complete home maintenance tasks, and set your gardens and yard up for success come springtime. It is common, over the first few months of fall, to spend less time in your yard than you did during the summer. However, there are a few simple tasks that you can work on to prepare for winter and ensure ideal growing conditions once winter is over.  

Read on to learn about the most important fall landscaping and maintenance tasks to complete to keep your home and your yard healthy and thriving all year long.  

Reseed and Fertilize Your Lawn 

This is the time to address any bare patches on your lawn. Early fall is the best time to sow grass seed for the cool season because the soil beneath is still relatively warm and rainfall is particularly plentiful. This makes for ideal conditions for the grass to root, ensuring it will grow thick and lush come springtime.  

This time of year is also the best time to fertilize your lawn. Spreading fertilizer in October and November will help to stimulate root growth before the ground becomes freezing. By working to strengthen the roots of the grass now, you will help your lawn survive the harsh conditions of winter, as well as promote speedy growth once spring arrives.  

Cut Back Shrubs and Trim Dead Limbs & Branches 

If you are thinking about trimming back your existing shrubs and bushes, fall is the time to do that. Doing this job in early fall means that new growth will have a chance to harden off before the first major frost comes. This will help your shrubs to be in strong and healthy shape by springtime.  

Trimming dead or diseased limbs off your trees is also a good task to complete in the fall months. Identifying dead limbs is easier while the trees still have leaves on them. Removing the weaker branches before they become covered in snow and ice is important as the additional weight of the snow could cause them to break, which poses a safety issue for both your home and your family members.  

Cover Flower Beds with Leaves 

While it may be tempting to rake and bag up all the fallen leaves in your yard, those leaves actually offer excellent protection for your flower beds over the winter months. While the look of leaves covering your flower beds may not be ideal, the organic matter of the leaves will actually work to insulate your plants from snow and ice, which keeps them healthy as the colder months set in.  

Clean out your Eavestroughs 

While most trees don’t drop a whole lot of leaves or sticks throughout the summer months, by the end of the fall your eavestroughs and gutters will probably be quite full. Take the time before winter sets in to clear out clogged gutters and eavestroughs. This will prevent ice dams from forming in winter and overflowing gutters come springtime.  

Fill Foundation, Pathway, and Driveway Cracks 

Fall is the best time to fill any cracks in your driveway, foundation, or pathways. When water gets inside a small crack, the freezing temperatures will turn that water into ice, which will expand and further widen the existing cracks. If you take the time now to fill those cracks you will prevent the damage from becoming worse.  

Stock Up on Snow Removal Equipment and De-Icer 

You don’t want to wait until the first big snow or ice storm of the season to realize you don’t have the appropriate snow removal equipment. These supplies are essential to keep your walkways, stairs, and sidewalks clear. Stock up on shovels and salt-free de-icer in the fall to ensure you are ready when the cold weather comes.  

Sweep Off & Inspect Your Roof 

Fall is the best time to clear off your roof and inspect it for signs of damage or areas that need repair. Once the majority of the leaves have fallen off the trees, it is a good idea to sweep the leaves off your roof, as once the snow and ice come the weight of the leaves and debris will potentially cause damage or weaken the roof. If you aren’t comfortable or it doesn’t feel safe for you to inspect your roof, hire a professional to take this task on.  

Hire a Building Inspector 

Apart from the tasks listed above, one of the best things you can do to ensure your home and yard stay healthy and safe throughout the winter months is to hire a home inspector to do a walk around of your property. An experienced and licensed home inspector can help you examine the more dangerous or hard-to-reach places and catch areas of concern or damage that the untrained eye might miss. At Building Insights, we bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, and we pride ourselves on offering the highest quality in service and integrity. Contact us now for your free quote!  


How Can You Purify the Air in Your Home?

Regardless of whether we’re inside or out, air quality as we breathe can have a significant impact on our health. Research has shown that poor air quality outdoors can lead to strokes, lung cancer, and heart disease. According to the WHO, poor air quality and air pollution result in approximately 7 million deaths across the globe every year.  

While it is difficult to control the quality of air outdoors, especially in public spaces, the air inside your home can be cleaned and purified with a bit of extra care and attention. In fact, studies have shown that the air inside your home in some cases can contain even more pollution than the air outdoors. Research has shown that we spend the majority of our time indoors, so taking care to ensure the quality of the air inside your home is important for the health and wellbeing of yourself and your family.  

What Causes Air Pollution Indoors? 

There is a wide range of reasons that the air inside your home may be polluted or of low quality. In some cases, items such as new furniture or building materials may release pollutants continuously. Other sources such as cleaning materials, smoking, or renovations can sporadically release pollutants and contribute to poor air quality. Sometimes, appliances can be the culprit, if they are not properly vented or are malfunctioning. This can lead to the release of pollutants indoors that may be at dangerous levels. Even higher-end or “trendy” appliances (such as gas stoves) can negatively affect air quality. 

The use of aerosol or sprayed air fresheners may make the air smell nice, but they are also a type of air pollution, releasing more possibly harmful chemicals into the air of your home. One study showed that health problems connected to the use of air fresheners cost hundreds of billions of dollars in treatment and productivity expenses.  

How Can I Improve the Air Quality in my Home? 

Open Your Windows – This may seem like an obvious point, but opening your windows often is the most inexpensive and simple way to improve the air quality in your home. Even just 5 minutes of open window time each day can go a long way toward alleviating the accumulation of air pollutants indoors.  

Get Some Houseplants – There are several types of popular houseplants that actually work to filter the air in your home and remove potentially toxic pollutants and vapors from the air. For instance, the well-known ‘spider plant’ effectively reduces the levels of formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide in your home’s air.  

Use Natural Products – If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, making the gradual switch to natural products is a great step. Instead of aerosol or spray air fresheners, opt for an essential oil diffuser to make your home smell fresh and clean. Choose beeswax or soy-based candles, to reduce the number of harmful particles in the air. When it comes to cleaning supplies, replace your chemical-based cleaners with more natural items, such as white vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.  

Remove your Shoes 

The shoes you wear outdoors can track some pretty dirty things including bacteria, pollen, fungi, animal feces, and pesticides. When you walk into your home with your shoes on, anything that may be on the bottoms or sides of your shoes will be tracked and carried throughout your home. The best thing to do is take your shoes off at the door and put on some slippers or indoor shoes. Not only will the air inside be cleaner, but so will your floors! 

Check your Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors  

This isn’t just about air quality, but it’s also about health and safety. Even if you aren’t concerned about the air quality in your home, it is vitally important to inspect, test, and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly to ensure they are working properly. You don’t want to wait until an emergency to find out they are malfunctioning! 

Run Your Air Conditioner & Use an Air Purifier  

If your home has a central air conditioning system, good news! Your house already has a built-in air filtration system. Central air works to filter the air by pulling the air from your home, cooling that air, and feeding it back in. Central air conditioning systems have filters that must be cleaned or replaced regularly. These filters work to trap particles in the air while the air conditioner does its job.  

Using an air purifier in your home is also an effective method to decrease the number of harmful particles that may be circulating in the air. Placing an air purifier in the bedroom is a great option, especially if you (or a family member) have asthma. If the air in your home is on the dryer side, you can also look into humidifiers that also work to purify the air.  

Talk to a Home Inspector! 

While the steps mentioned above are great ways to improve the quality of the air in your home, engaging with an experienced home inspector is the only way to be sure that the air you breathe at home is as clean and safe as possible. A home inspector can not only tell you how to improve your home’s air quality, but they can also identify the sources of potentially harmful or dangerous particles and toxins in the air of your home. At Building Insights, we pride ourselves on helping all of our clients maintain their homes and optimize their health and safety. Contact us today for your free quote or to schedule an inspection. We can’t wait to hear from you! 


Summer Home Maintenance Tips 

As we settle into summertime, the temperatures are continuing to rise, and we are anticipating the summer holidays and some much-needed rest and relaxation. During these warmer months, it’s important to remember that this season offers many opportunities to maintain and care for your home.  

You don’t want to wait until the cold of winter sets in to realize your roof needs repairs or to try to clean your eavestroughs when they’re frozen solid. The health of your home depends on some essential maintenance practices, and the summertime is the perfect time to tick a few of them off your list. By completing these maintenance tasks regularly, you greatly reduce the odds that you’ll have expensive and stressful issues occurring in your home. Read on for our list of the most important summer home maintenance tasks to tackle over the next couple of months. 

Check Out the Windows 

Windows that are damaged or improperly maintained can cause significant issues in your home to arise, such as poor insulation or water damage. Take some time to inspect both the inside and outside of each window in your home, looking for any cracks in the frames, holes in the screens, or faulty opening/closing mechanisms.   

Check out the Exterior 

Take a walk around your home and simply inspect the exterior elements. Examine the siding or brick of your home looking for signs of damage. This is also a great opportunity to power wash or hose down the exterior surfaces of your home.  

Inspect and Clean your Fans  

During the summer months, fans get a lot of use.  Before you fire them up, take some time to clean the blades, which may have collected lots of dust while not in use. This is also an excellent time to make sure they are functioning properly and efficiently.  

Inspect and Clean your Air Conditioner and Ducts  

Whether you have central air, window a/c units, or a portable air conditioner, these machines also require some routine maintenance to ensure they can effectively cool your home. This includes inspection of the unit for signs of damage, cleaning the vents and ducts, and changing out the filters for new ones.  

Check your Outside Space  

Take a walk around your property and examine your outdoor space for anything that may be damaged or need to be cleaned. Power Washing your driveway, sidewalk, and deck/patio is an immensely satisfying task! It’s always fun and surprising to see the “true” colour of things after a good power wash.  

Inspect the Grading Around your Home  

The grading around your home refers to the level of the ground and determines how and where water will flow. The grading around your home should always be ‘positive’ which means it should slope away from your home. Sometimes heavy snow and extreme weather over the colder months can result in damage or changes to the grading of your home. Inspect the ground around your house, looking for large cracks or general changes in the level or slope.  

Check Your Gutters  

The warmer months are an ideal time to clean out your gutters and downspouts. Allowing rainwater to run freely off and away from your home is paramount to its health. Ensuring that these elements are free and clear will go a long way towards protecting your roof, and avoiding water damage indoors.  

Summer home maintenance is vitally important and should not be neglected, even though we love to spend our summers enjoying some relaxation and much-needed vacations. Taking the time to complete the maintenance tasks listed above can go a long way toward ensuring that your home remains healthy and in great condition. In many cases, the homeowners who don’t prioritize these summer home maintenance tasks often end up costing themselves more money over time, because neglected home maintenance can result in some very costly repairs. At Building Insights, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality of service and experience when it comes to helping you maintain the condition of your home. We can help you with home maintenance over the summer months and work together to avoid major repair costs down the road. Contact us for your free quote today!  


How to Determine the Age of Appliances 

Knowing the age of your major appliances is important, whether you are budgeting for your current home or considering purchasing a new home. Not everyone understands why knowing the age of your appliances is important, but the truth is that we depend on our appliances to function properly and run smoothly. When major appliances break down or no longer work effectively, a large amount of stress and frustration can result. This comes in addition to the financial burden of replacing major (and often expensive) appliances when you aren’t expecting to.  

Asking the Previous Homeowner 

The best time to establish the age and installation dates of major appliances is at some point during the process of buying a new home. Sometimes this information is available on a property disclosure statement or through the seller’s real estate agent. In most cases, the homeowner will have a general idea of when the appliance has been purchased or replaced.  

The Age of the Home 

Another great way to try and establish the age of major appliances in a home is to look at the age of the house itself. If the house is fairly new (under 10-20 years old) it’s quite likely that the appliances were original to the house the year it was constructed. You can also look at years that renovations occurred, as often major appliances are replaced during those times.  

Instruction Manuals 

Sometimes, the previous owner will leave behind a collection of instruction manuals for the appliances that exist in the home. The majority of owner’s manuals will have a date noted on either the front or back page, commonly next to the publication number of the manual. If that can’t be found, there might be some helpful information that may help narrow down when the appliances were manufactured.  

Serial Number 

If all of the above efforts fail, you can try to identify the age of the appliances with the serial number. It is important to note that the serial will provide a lot more information than the model number. The serial number can be the most accurate way to find out the age of a major appliance, but it can also be the most time-consuming. Since the 1970s, each manufacturer has had its own coding system that includes the date of manufacture in the serial number of every appliance they make. There are many resources available online that can help you to decode the serial number of your appliance.  


If you are considering buying a new home with existing major appliances, finding out their age is important. This allows you to identify whether they need to be replaced, repaired, or will last for several more years. While using an aging or imperfect fridge is one thing, (as long as it functions properly) heavier appliances such as water heaters, furnaces or boilers might be a different story. Having appliances such as these fail without notice can be not only inconvenient and stressful, but in some cases, it can be dangerous as well. Above all, identifying the age of your appliances can help inform whether they need to be serviced, repaired, or completely replaced.  

An experienced and licensed home inspector can be a great resource when it comes to determining the age and condition of your major appliances as well. Not only is a home inspector an expert when it comes to these things, but they will also be able to provide valuable information about maintenance, replacement options, and what to expect down the road as your appliances continue to age. At Building Insights, we take great pride in providing the highest quality service and experience, whatever your home inspection needs might be. Contact us today to book your home inspection or receive a free quote!  



What to Look for When Checking Out a Home

Searching for a new home to purchase can be a very exciting time, especially when you find one you love. Maybe the house looks amazing in the photos online, it feels like a good fit when you walk through it, and it starts to feel like it could be ‘the one.’ But sometimes, houses can hide some unfortunate secrets that aren’t immediately obvious when looking at photos or even when walking through them. While some surprises can be fun and exciting, surprise problems with your new house are not so fun. They can also be very costly and stressful.  

Here are 6 of the most important things to keep an eye out for when you are walking through your potential new home:  

Damp/Water/Mold – This is one of the most important things to watch for when touring a home that you may be interested in buying. Water damage or excess moisture can result in toxic mold and damage to the structure of the building. Look for watermarks on the walls and ceilings, and check the floors for any signs of warping. The basement is the area where you’re most likely to find signs of water damage or excess moisture, so pay special attention when looking at that part of the home.  

Structural Integrity of the Building – Keep your eye out for any big cracks in the walls, floors, and foundation but keep in mind that some hairline cracks are normal. Also, keep an eye out for door or window frames that appear tilted or off center as that can be a sign of a sinking or unstable foundation.  

Which Direction Does the House Face – The amount of natural light that a home receives can make or break how the house feels to those who live in it. If you can, tour the house on a sunny day so you can get a good idea of how much natural light you can expect the house to have. In the winter, the direction the house faces can be the difference between dealing with tons of icicles and frost (or not!) 

Windows and Window Frames – Look at the state of the external window frames, as they can be a great indicator in terms of the condition of the rest of the house. If the windows have been well cared for and maintained, odds are the rest of the house has been cared for in a similar fashion. If you can push your finger easily into the wood of the window frame that indicates the wood is rotten. If you notice condensation between the two panes of glass, that is a good sign that they are faulty and need to be replaced.  

The Age and Condition of the Roof – Having a roof replaced can be a very expensive endeavor, and one you probably don’t want to experience with your newly purchased home. Newer roofs have a life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years, depending on which materials were used. If the home you’re considering has a flat or nearly flat roof, find out what material was used to seal it. Most roofs today are sealed with a waterproof membrane (as opposed to asphalt and gravel) which is effective at sealing all the seams and edges of the roof.  

Check for Dodgy Wiring/Number and Placement of Outlets – Bad wiring can be really dangerous, and having your new home rewired can be a very expensive undertaking. Make sure to pay attention to how many outlets are in each room and where they are placed. You should also make sure to check out the fuse board as it can give you a good indication of the state of the wiring in the home.  

While it is very important to keep these things at the top of your mind when you are looking at a potential new home, your best resource for ensuring the safety and quality of your new home is to have an experienced professional home inspector inspect the home. A licensed home inspector will know exactly what to look for and will be familiar with all the warning signs and indicators of possible issues. They will also be able to advise you on the maintenance costs and responsibilities of the home and what to keep an eye out for down the road. At Building Insights, we are uniquely qualified and bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, integrity and quality of service to each and every home inspection we do. Contact us for a free quote or to book your home inspection today!  


Things that Will Help Protect your Roof this Winter

While we look forward to spring, winter is still very much here with us. If you reside in Ontario, you are probably aware of the implications and effects that winter can have on your home and property. Snowstorms can cause significant damage to a roof, and this is why it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your roof during the winter and prevent damage from occurring. There are a few things you can do to protect your roof and ensure it doesn’t suffer significant damage over the winter months. While these tips can be helpful, not everyone is able to conduct the appropriate visual inspections and subsequent preventive actions. In this case, contacting a qualified building inspector to advise you on the condition of your roof is a good option.  

Ensure your Attic is Properly Ventilated 

The long-term health of your roof depends greatly on the proper ventilation and insulation of your home, especially the attic. Effective insulation regulates the temperature in your home, which in turn helps to decrease heating costs and keep the outdoor winter temperatures at bay. Proper ventilation works to prevent moisture from building up, which can cause damage to the structure and interior of your home, as well as the materials that make up your roof. When you inspect your attic, ensure that all vents and other ventilation elements are in good working order and are not blocked by any items in the attic.  

Clean your Eavestroughs 

Your home’s eavestroughs (also known as gutters) protect your home from damage caused by water. They keep water away from the foundation of the home by controlling the flow of water during a rainstorm or thaw. If the eavestroughs are clogged, the flow of water will freeze, forming icicles around the home and potentially leading to damage to the foundation.  

During the fall and winter seasons, leaves accumulate in the eavestroughs. When the water can not drain properly, it overflows and can potentially result in damage to the roof, siding, and trim of your home. In some cases, the gutters might even fall off if they have collected too much snow or water. Ideally, the eavestroughs should be cleaned every spring and fall before winter sets in, as once the temperatures are below freezing, clearing them can be much more difficult.  

Clean your Roof 

Even if winter has already set in, it is never too late to take the time to remove debris from your roof. Cleaning your roof is as simple as climbing a safe and steady ladder and sweeping it with a broom as best as you can. There are some products available that are specifically designed to help with this process, such as a “Roof Rake.” This is something that should be done regularly (twice a year) to minimize the build-up of debris and help to keep your roof intact during the winter months. For some people, this task is too challenging, and they choose to hire a professional to clean their roof, which is a great option and will ensure that the roof is cleaned properly without causing additional damage.  

When heavy snow builds up on the roof, it can cause the roof to collapse, especially when the roof in question is flat. When snow isn’t removed and continues to build up, or should it melt and then refreeze, ice dams can start to form. As these ice dams appear and then melt as the temperatures warm up, significant water damage can result. To prevent the buildup of snow and ice on your roof, use a broom or rake with a telescoping handle to remove snow as it accumulates. Using chemicals to melt the snow is not recommended as they can cause major damage to shingles and other roofing materials on your roof. 

Do a Visual Inspection of your Roof Valleys and Shingles  

Once your roof has been cleared of excess snow and debris, you will be able to conduct a thorough visual inspection of the condition of your roof. Watch for cracks or damage to the shingles, and pay extra close attention to areas of your roof that are more prone to damage or leaks such as the areas around the chimney, vents, or skylights. If you do notice signs of damage, the shingles or entire roof may need to be replaced. If you manage to discover the damage before late fall, hire a professional to come and inspect the roof for you and repair any damage before the arrival of winter.  

Most roofing professionals recommend inspecting the condition of your roof and shingles every 6 months. It is a good idea to keep a record of all roof inspections that are done to protect the warranty on your roof and keep track of how often they are being conducted. A good rule of thumb is that if your roof is 15 years old or older or if your shingles are broken or missing, your roof probably should be replaced. 

Schedule a Routine Roof Inspection 

If doing all of this yourself sounds like more than you are able or want to do, you’re not alone. Many people feel uncomfortable cleaning their roof and eavestroughs as well as conducting a thorough visual inspection of their roof twice a year. This is where the professionals come in! An experienced and qualified home inspector is your best resource when it comes to inspecting and maintaining the condition of your roof, as well as preventing damage to your home during the winter. If you want to learn more about how to protect your roof for the winter and how Building Insights can help, contact us today! 


Should I Skip my Home Inspection?

Is it Bad to Skip a Home Inspection? 

Buying a new home is typically a lengthy process, and the stress that comes along with finding the perfect place to live can be overwhelming. By the time buyers find a new home that they love, they often feel exhausted with the market and the process and are ready to finish the sale as soon as possible. While it may be tempting to expedite the process and eliminate steps, cutting corners when it comes to your new home isn’t a good idea. One of the most important elements of the closing process on a home is the home inspection.  

Many people wonder: Are home inspections really necessary? The answer is pretty simple, while everyone has different ideas and preferences, everybody would agree that living in a safe and secure environment is highly important. Skipping a home inspection means you risk buying a home that may not be safe to inhabit or up to your standards, since many common issues within a home are easy to miss without a thorough inspection from a reputable building inspector. 

What are the Risks of Skipping a Home Inspection? 

Unknown Health & Safety Hazards  

The biggest risk that comes along with skipping a home inspection is that the home may have serious issues that could pose a health or safety risk to its inhabitants. Without conducting a home inspection, you lose the opportunity to learn about urgent safety issues that should be addressed before closing on the sale of the home. Concerns such as electrical hazards, fire hazards, possible mold or moisture, or carbon monoxide hazards could be identified. It is not uncommon for a home inspector to uncover major safety concerns when inspecting a home, oftentimes needing to be remedied immediately due to potential danger. Everybody wants a safe home, and leaving the safety of your home a mystery isn’t a great idea.  

Expensive Repairs or Replacements  

While some people might think that major structural or maintenance issues would be obvious or jump out to the untrained eye, the truth is most of the issues discovered through a home inspection are a surprise to the buyer (and often the seller as well.) 

Many of the problems that might deter a buyer from purchasing a home are hidden or disguised either by nature or by design. Because of this, it takes an experienced and knowledgeable home inspector to identify them. There are any number of deal-breaking problems that might be uncovered during a home inspection, with some of the more extensive issues (such as foundation problems) that might cost as much as $100,000 to fix or replace.  

The art of inspecting homes and buildings is actually a form of forensic analysis and it takes years and years to develop and hone these skills. Home inspectors possess a wealth of information and expertise who will provide information that would not otherwise be accessible.  

No Maintenance Plan / Preventive Maintenance for Home 

Unlike cars, homes don’t come with instructions or a maintenance manual. A home inspector can give you great advice about the preventive and future maintenance needs of the home which helps to ensure that the new owners are well informed.  

Knowing what big repairs or replacements may be coming up in the next several years can make it easier to plan financially and be ready when the time comes. Things such as roof repairs or replacements, or a new furnace can be costly, and being surprised by these costs is never fun. A home inspector can help you understand the entire home, inside and out, as well as equip you with what to expect down the road. This can be just as valuable as the discovery of major problems or defects with the home. 

Is it Smart to Buy Without an Inspection? When is it Okay to Skip a Home Inspection? 

In today’s hot real estate market, it is becoming increasingly common for buyers to put an offer on a home with no conditions, meaning they will take it as is and forgo any home inspection. With such a competitive market, many buyers wonder if they should waive the home inspection if it means securing the home you want. Experts agree that it is never recommended to skip a home inspection when purchasing a new home. When you buy without a home inspection, you are surrendering any legal contractual out should any major issues be detected. This means that the cost of any repairs or replacements falls only on the new owners.  

By skipping a home inspection you are also eliminating a powerful bargaining tool. Often inspection results are used as leverage during negotiations for the selling price and/or closing costs, resulting in a lower offer when defects are uncovered. With no inspection, the buyer is actually giving up what is often a very important bargaining chip.  

If you want to learn more about why you should never skip a home inspection or to schedule a home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!  


Is My Foundation Failing?

When looking for a new home on the market, it’s always important to remember that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ home. Every home, whether it is a century-old or a brand new build, is more than likely to have some issues, ranging from cosmetic, to minor to major. However, one thing you definitely don’t want to encounter when you’re buying a home is issues with the foundation. It is very important to understand the most common signs of existing foundation problems, and a reputable home inspector is the best resource for identifying issues related to a home’s foundation. 

What are the Most Common Foundation Problems?  

Bulges and Curves – The presence of bulges or curves within block foundation or concrete walls are a good indicator of foundational movement. In Canada, our climate and extreme temperatures cause soil to contract and expand, which in some cases puts pressure on the foundation walls in turn. 

Cracking – Post-excavation, the soil surrounding the foundation of a home is loose. When the soil eventually settles causing nearby vibrations to occur, cracks in your foundation can happen. 

Leaking – If there are cracks in the foundation of your home, this can cause major problems. In most cases, plastic perforated piping (also known as weeping tile) is installed on the outside of the foundation footing to trap accumulating water. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always prevent moisture from getting in. Ultimately, when too much water gets into these cracks, you’ll find yourself with a leaky basement that becomes a damp, wet, and poorly ventilated space that has ideal conditions for mold to grow. 

What are the Warning Signs of a Faulty Basement or Foundation? 

During a pre-purchase home inspection, the home inspector will pay special attention to the foundation and will thoroughly inspect for signs of foundation problems. Ignoring these issues and hoping they go away is not a good option, foundation problems don’t disappear or resolve overnight! In fact, foundation problems will worsen over time, and while they may not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the home, they will likely become dangerous over an extended period of time if left uninspected and unaddressed.  

Some of the most common signs of foundation problems are:  

-Cracking of the Interior/Exterior Brickwork 

-Bowing or Honeycombing/Flaking of the Walls 

-Imbalanced, Uneven, or Sloping Floors 

-Gaps or Cavities between the Walls and the Floor or Ceiling 

-Dampness in the Walls or the Presence of Mold 

-Cracked Floor Tiling  

-Doors and/or Windows that no Longer Fit in their Frames  

It is normal and common for shrinkage cracks to appear in most poured concrete foundations, which are a result of the concrete drying and curing. These cracks typically are less than ⅛, of an inch, and are generally regarded as par for the course. That being said, taking the time to seal any crack (even the tiny ones) can be a great way to guard against water damage or leakage.  

What Causes Foundation Problems? 

Problems related to a home’s foundation can affect all types of foundations, whether it is poured concrete, pier and beam, or another type of foundation. Any type of structure can be affected regardless of how old or young the house is, so it is very important to understand the causes behind these types of problems and how they can be prevented.  

Foundation issues most often occur when there is movement of the soil beneath the structure. As movement occurs, the building will also be forced to move. This usually results in settlement cracks, which in turn can result in a water or moisture issue because of poor drainage. Sometimes, this movement is caused by extreme weather events such as an earthquake, hurricanes, or extreme temperatures.  

How Much does it Cost to Fix a Falling Foundation? 

The cost of repairing foundation issues can depend on the severity and extent of the problem. Repairing minor cracks, for instance, will cost a whole lot less than repairing a home that has settled or sunk into the ground. Generally speaking, crack repair in a foundation can cost between $500-1000 per crack. Fixing a foundation that leaks can cost as much as $8,000 or more. When there are major issues with the foundation of a home it can be very expensive, difficult, and stressful to fix. 

How Can a Home Inspection Help with Foundation Problems? 

Whether you are hoping to purchase a new home, or are concerned about foundation problems in your existing home, having a reputable home inspector conduct a thorough examination of the foundation is very important. The findings from the home inspection will help to inform you about your next steps and how the issue can be resolved. Just as you wouldn’t want to buy a car with faulty steering, you won’t want to buy a home with significant foundation problems either. A home inspection equips you with all the information you need to make the best decision about your home, or potential new home. If you want to learn more about foundation problems and how a home inspector can help, contact us at Building Insights today!   


Why Does My Basement Stink?

Have you ever started down the stairs towards your basement, only to be met with an unpleasant smell? Or have you brought things out of basement storage only to find they smell moldy or musty? While there are many reasons your basement might stink, it is essential to identify the source of the odor. In some cases, a basement becomes smelly due to an unresolved water or mold issue and this can be not only unpleasant but can pose a health and safety risk. In older homes especially, there’s a good chance that there will be some issue with moisture in the basement, which can result in some of these unpleasant smells. Even if you’ve installed a sump pump, it may not be enough to combat the moisture and mold. Sometimes these smells are related to blockages in the plumbing, vents, drains, or HVAC system. A reputable home inspector can help you determine the cause of the odor and advise you on what possible repairs or installations will work to remedy the problem.

Is it Normal for a Basement to Smell Musty?

Basements present ideal conditions for a mold or mildew problem, resulting in a musty smell that can be stubborn and difficult to remove. Because some (or all) of the walls of a basement are built underground, the cold, damp soil that surrounds the walls can leech moisture into the basement. Moisture can also get into a basement from improper drainage or standing water issues. Mold and mildew thrive in areas where there is substantial humidity. While it is not nice to have a stinky basement, it is a common issue, especially in older homes.

What Causes a Smelly Basement? Why Does the Basement Smell Like Sewage?

Some of the most common causes of a stinky basement are:

High Moisture Levels – Water and moisture will find a way into the basement if there is one. Whether that is due to cracks in the drywall or flooring, improper ventilation, condensation build-up, or standing water. High moisture levels can also be the result of appliances that were installed incorrectly or do not have adequate drainage and ventilation.

Sewage/Plumbing Issues – If your basement has a sewage-type odor (as opposed to a musty smell) there is likely an issue with the drains in the basement floor. These rarely-used floor drains in your basement are the most common source of the sewer smell. They are designed with a trap to hold a minimal amount of water which works to seal the pipe and prevent sewer gases from escaping into your home. Over time, that seal can break as the water in the drain dries up, and can result in the release of sewer gas into the basement and result in an unfortunate odor. In some cases, a sewage smell in a basement can be due to the sewer line being damaged. If the damage is close enough to your home, sewage water (and its smell!) can back up into your home.

Animal Smells – Sometimes, a smelly basement can be the result of something unrelated to moisture, drains, or sewage. The most common of these are animal smells. Whether it is cat urine, animal feces, or the smell of a decomposing animal, these odors can be incredibly potent and difficult to remedy.

How Do You Get Rid of Basement Smells?

The first and most important step towards a nice-smelling basement is to identify the source of the smell. Start by doing a visual inspection of your basement, keeping an eye out for any signs of standing water, moisture damage, or mold. It can also be helpful to identify what kind of smell you are experiencing, as that will help to narrow down the possible causes. In many cases, identifying the source of the smell can prove to be very tricky and should be left to a professional home inspector to identify.

Once the source of the smell has been identified, the next steps will depend on the cause and severity of the smell. A home inspector can not only help to identify the source but can also offer sound advice on how to proceed. Some basements may require significant repairs, reinforcement of the walls, or the installation of a sump pump. In some cases, the floor drains may need to be resealed or completely replaced.

Basement smells can be stubborn and upsetting, and getting rid of them isn’t always simple or easy. A reputable home inspector is your best resource when it comes to eliminating this type of problem. If you want to learn more about how a home inspector can help with a stinky basement or to schedule a home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!