Home Safety Tips for Families

Our homes should always be a place of solitude, comfort, and safety. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, ensuring the safety of your home and family is most likely at the top of your list. This is why it is incredibly important to take care of your home and be aware of potential hazards and dangers.

In addition to decorating and organizing your home, taking proper care of it should also include ensuring that your living space is safe. While it is impossible to prevent all emergencies completely, there are some things you can do to prevent and prepare for them should they arise. Read on to discover our top home safety tips that will help you sleep easy and relax at home knowing you’ve done all you can to keep your family safe.

House Fire Prevention and Safety Tips to Help Keep Your Home Safe

Examine All Electrical Cords and Outlets – It’s vital to regularly check all electrical elements and systems in your home for potential fire hazards. Keep an eye out for any of the following:

● Frayed or Loose Wires

● Ensure No Cords are Running Under rugs or Across Doorways

● Touch Outlets to Feel if They are Warm (they should not be!)

● Examine for a Damaged or Faulty Electrical System

● Never Overload an Outlet

● Avoid Overloading the Electrical System (always follow manufacturer instructions about maximum wattage and requirements)

● Baby Proof Outlets (if you have small children)

Inspect Home Heating – Preventing potential fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and heat burns is essential to the safety of your home. Inspect the following:

● Outside Vents (they should be clear of obstructions and properly sealed, always check following a significant snowfall)

● Inspect Woodburning Stoves and Fireplaces Twice Monthly (ensure the door latch closes properly and the room has a functioning smoke detector)

● Choose the Right Wood (for stoves and fireplaces you want a good supply of dry seasoned wood)

● Hire a Chimney Sweep/Cleaner Regularly

● Inspect your Water Heater Annually

Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Simply installing these detectors is not enough to ensure the safety of your home.

● Install Detectors Generously Throughout your Home (there should be at least one of each on each floor of your home and should cover all sleeping areas)

● Test Your Alarms Each Month

● Replace the Batteries Once per Year (or sooner if it is ‘chirping’)

● Clean All Detectors regularly

● Ensure All Family Members Know the Difference Between Detector Sounds

Use Fire Extinguishers – Fire extinguishers are an essential element of all home safety equipment. They are relatively inexpensive and can save lives.

● Strategically Place Extinguishers (keep one in the kitchen and on each floor)

● Learn How to Use Them (they aren’t helpful if you don’t know they work in an emergency!)

● Replace them as Necessary

● Consider Installing a Fire Sprinkler System

Establish an Escape Plan – Your family should be well informed about what to do in the case of an emergency. Design an escape plan that includes:

● Two Exit Routes in Case of Fire

● A Meeting Place for all Family Members to Gather

● A Rescue Ladder if Necessary

● Ensure all Family Members Know to Call 9-11 and the Address of the Home

Protect Small Children – Families with young children need to take some additional measures to ensure the safety of the youngest family members. This should include:

● Installing Window Guards on All Windows

● Installing Safety Gates at the Top and Bottom of all Staircases

● Locking up Hazardous Materials (this includes medications, cleaning supplies, and other dangerous materials)

● Keep Knives Out of Reach

● Add Padding on any Furniture with Sharp Corners or Edges

● Install Doorknob Covers on Entry/Exit Doors

● Fence in your Pool

● Teach Children their Address and how to call 9-11

Keep your Pets Safe – Furry family members should also be considered when you ensure the safety of your home.

● Ensure All Food is Locked Away or Out of Reach

● Lock up Your Garbage

● Keep Electrical Cords Away from your Pet

● Ensure Hazardous Materials and Chemicals Aren’t Accessible

● Include your Pets in your Escape Plan

● Make Sure Leashes/Collars and Crates/Carriers are Easily Accessible

When in Doubt – Hire a Professional!

If you have done all of the above and are still concerned about the safety of your home, call in a professional. Home inspectors are experts when it comes to identifying hazards and potential dangers in your home. They are trained to see things that the average homeowner might miss, and can also provide you with a plan for how to improve the safety of your home. If you would like to book a home inspection or receive a free quote.


House Damage by Squirrels and How to Prevent It

Spotting the common black and gray squirrels is something most of us do every single day. Squirrels are plentiful in Ontario and are often seen in trees, on grass lawns, and pretty well anywhere else outdoors! One place we don’t want to find squirrels, however, is inside our homes. While squirrels living outdoors isn’t a cause for concern, squirrels who take up residence in your attic or cause significant damage to your home can be.

Read on to learn more about how to know if squirrels are gaining access to your home, how to prevent them from entering, and what to do if you find wildlife inside your home.

How Do Squirrels Get into Homes?

Squirrels have excellent climbing skills and are able to easily chew through wood. This makes it relatively easy for them to climb onto your home and chew through any wood gables (or other vulnerable areas) to access the indoors. During the breeding season, female squirrels seek shelter to give birth and raise their litters safely, making this time the most common to find squirrels inside homes.

Some of the most common signs that squirrels may be living inside your home are:

  • The presence of fecal matter
  • Telltale damage by squirrels
  • A nest made of shredded insulation and/or wood
  • Scratching or other strange noises
  • Visible damage to the exterior of the home

About Squirrel Damage

When squirrels access your home, the damage can be widespread. Not only are they likely to damage the exterior of your home while they work to get inside, but once they are inside they will shred insulation and wood framing to create bedding. They can also chew through electrical wiring and PVC piping which in turn can lead to a fire and/or water damage. Essentially, squirrels have the potential to cause enough damage that you may have to file an insurance claim. Unfortunately, many homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage caused by local wildlife. Preventing these animals from entering your home is the best way to ensure the safety and aesthetics of your home.

How Can I Prevent Squirrels from Entering My Home?

One of the most effective ways to prevent squirrels from entering your home is to promptly fix any areas on the exterior that may be vulnerable to squirrels. This includes any holes, unsecured soffits, wooden window frames, etc. It’s also important to ensure that all doors and windows shut and seal properly, with no large gaps around the outer edges that small animals could squeeze through. On the inside of the attic of your home, inspect the area for signs of

previous damage by squirrels. Repair any areas that require it, and replace any insulation that may have been damaged or removed. You can also install steel screens over any vents or other purposeful openings to prevent squirrel access through them.

It is important to routinely inspect the exterior and interior of your home for signs of squirrel damage, as well as for any areas that squirrels might use to gain access. Being proactive and practicing prevention is the best method of protecting your home from wildlife.

What If I Find Squirrels Inside My Home?

If you do find that squirrels are in fact living inside your home, it is best to consult the professionals. Professional wildlife removers are trained in how to safely and humanely remove wildlife that has taken up residence in your home. Squirrels can carry diseases that can be deadly, so don’t risk trying to remove them yourself.

When in Doubt, Call a Home Inspector

If you are concerned that squirrels may be accessing an area of your home, and you aren’t able or want to inspect your home for signs of wildlife and possible damage, call your local home inspector. Home inspectors are experts when it comes to spotting damage and identifying access points for squirrels and other critters. They can also help you make a strong prevention plan and identify any areas that are vulnerable or in need of repairs.

If you want to learn more about how to prevent squirrels from entering your home, book your inspection, or receive a free quote, contact us at Building Insights today!


Changing a Furnace Filter

How often do you think about the filter in your home’s furnace? If replacing your furnace filter isn’t part of your routine home maintenance practice, or it’s been a while since you’ve changed it, now is an excellent time to think about it! 

When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, as well as ensuring that the air in your home is as clean and healthy as possible, routinely changing your furnace filter is highly important.  

Read on to discover our top reasons why replacing your furnace filter is essential to the comfort of your home and the health of your HVAC system:  

System Efficiency – Replacing your furnace filter is important to ensure that your HVAC system runs as efficiently as possible. When the filter becomes clogged with dirt, grime, pet hair, and dust, the A/C and furnace end up having to work twice as hard just to move air throughout your home. This, in turn, will drive up your energy costs each month, which also increases your home’s carbon footprint.  

Health Concerns – When a furnace filter is dirty, it allows dander, dust, and even mold to continue to circulate through your home. This can cause your family to breathe in this unclean air which can exacerbate conditions such as allergies, asthma, or other respiratory concerns.  

Increased Maintenance Costs and a Shortened HVAC System Lifespan – When your system has to work harder than intended to heat and cool your home due to a clogged filter, it can overheat and burn out. This can mean expensive repairs, or in some cases, replacing the entire unit.  

A Clean Filter Means a Cleaner Home – A clean, new air filter can drastically reduce the amount of dust inside your home, as it traps the dust and as a result, it is no longer circulating. By decreasing the amount of dust in your home, your home will be cleaner in general and will require less time cleaning.  

How Often Should I Change My Furnace Filter? 

Hopefully, we’ve successfully convinced you that replacing your furnace filter regularly is highly important and beneficial. How frequently the filter should be changed depends on several factors such as the type of filters, whether there are pets in the home, the type of HVAC system, etc. A good general rule of thumb is to change the filter every other month.  

How Do I Change My Furnace Filter? 

Replacing a furnace filter is a relatively simple task that any homeowner can tackle on their own, and takes approximately 5-10 minutes.  

Step by Step Instructions for Changing your Furnace Filter 

Step 1: Turn off the Power to the Furnace 

To begin, ensure that you turn off your furnace at the thermostat. This is a crucial step; if the furnace turns on without a filter in place, it might suck up any dust and debris which can cause damage to its internal components. 

Step 2: Find the Service Panel 

The next step is to locate the furnace’s service panel and slide or open the door. If you are unable to find the panel, refer to the manual for the furnace. If the manual is not available, in most cases the air filters are located near the air handler or blower compartment of the unit. They are also occasionally located in the ductwork near the blower fan or air-uptake vent within your home.  

Step 3: Remove the Dirty Filter 

After locating and opening the service panel, simply slide the filter out while taking care to note the direction of the arrow on the filter frame. You’ll want to install the clean filter with the arrows on the frame pointing in the same direction. The arrows indicate the direction of the airflow on the filter, and in order for it to work effectively it must be pointing in the correct direction.  

Step 4: Install a New Filter 

After removing the existing filter, simply replace it with a clean one. Before sliding it in, ensure that it is the correct size and that the arrows on the frame are pointing in the same direction as the previous filter. Once the new filter is in, you are safe to turn your thermostat back on and properly dispose of the old filter.  

The Bottom Line  

Replacing your furnace filter is a highly important basic home maintenance task, and is relatively simple to do. Properly caring for and maintaining your home’s furnace means cleaner and healthier air for you and your family, and a HVAC system that will continue to work effectively for years to come. 

If you want to learn more about changing furnace filters, receive a free quote or to schedule your home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!  


Raccoon in the Attic

Raccoons are known mischief makers, between their masked bandit appearance and their ability to make big messes of our garbage cans. They can be the most nuisance, however, if they find a way into your attic. It’s not always easy to know right away whether the sounds or movements you are detecting are that of a raccoon or another critter.  

Conducting an inspection of your home yourself in order to determine whether a wild animal has made your house their home, is relatively straightforward. Read on to learn about how to inspect your home for wildlife, what to do if you find live animals, and how they commonly enter your home so you can prevent them from taking up residence in the future.  

How Do I Inspect My Home for Animals? 


Examine your home for signs of structural damage that may have been caused by raccoons or other animals as they enter the attic. Raccoons are known for shredding wallpaper, and removing insulation that surrounds any pipes, the roof, and vent ducts to use as bedding material. This type of damage is typically easy to spot and is a good indication that an animal is present in the area. 

Raccoon Sighting 

This may seem obvious, but sighting the animal within your attic is the most surefire way to confirm the presence of a raccoon (or other critter) in your home.  

Nocturnal Sounds & Movements 

Raccoons are naturally nocturnal animals, which means they tend to sleep all day and be most active at night. Pay attention to any strange or unfamiliar noises in your home at night, especially ones that might be coming from the roof or attic. Raccoons typically make rustling and scurrying noises. They also tend to communicate with each other with a variety of sounds and can be highly vocal. Baby raccoons tend to “mew” like a kitten and also make whining noises. The presence of any of these sounds is a good sign that a raccoon has made a home in your attic.  

Fecal Droppings 

One of the other ways to determine the presence of raccoons or other critters is to examine the area thoroughly for any fecal matter. If you do find feces, make sure you don’t come into contact as they can carry viruses and infections. Raccoon feces is mostly tubular in shape and can produce a pungent odor.  

Garbage Remnants 

Examine the area for any garbage debris such as food wrappers, or other food remnants as this can be a good sign that a raccoon has taken up residence in your home.  

How Do Raccoons Enter My Home?

Raccoons are incredibly resourceful animals and they can make a home in just about anywhere within your home.  

Attic – The attic is one of the most commonly seen places for raccoons to make a home. They typically enter through a window, vent, or any small cracks that may exist along the framework. Raccoons have long and strong front nails which makes them excellent climbers.  

Chimneys – Chimneys are great avenues for wildlife to easily enter your home. Chimneys offer protective shelter and darkness once they reach the top of the damper.  

Roof Vents – In order to ensure proper ventilation, all houses are equipped with roof vents which can often be used as an open door to raccoons, even the ones with aluminum or plastic covers. On colder nights, the warm air from the vents often attracts raccoons to the area.  

Pet Doors – Raccoons can be quite fearless when they smell food, and there isn’t much that can do to stop them from attempting to gain access. Pet doors can make it very easy for raccoons to enter your home, and once inside, raccoons will cause mischief and destruction as they build their dens and search for food. 

Nearby Trees – In more urban areas, taller trees can become an oasis for a family of raccoons. Trees provide raccoons and other animals with essential resources such as shade, shelter, and a place to stalk their prey. Raccoons will also often use trees that are close to a house in order to gain access to the interior of your home. 

Open Windows and Framing – It is important to ensure that your windows and casings are always secured and closed, especially at night. A raccoon simply needs to track the smell of food through an opened window in order to plan to gain entry. 

What Do I Do if I Find a Raccoon in my Attic?

If you happen to find an animal in your home or have confirmed its presence through other means, it is important to proceed cautiously. In order to effectively remove the animal, you should contact a reputable wildlife removal service, and ensure that they use humane tactics. You should never try to remove a wild animal yourself, as it can carry rabies and other diseases that could seriously harm you or your family.  

If you want to learn more about what to do when you have a wild animal in your home or to receive your free quote, contact us at Building Insights today!  


Should I Test the Air Quality in my Home?

Being aware of the quality of the air we breathe is an essential part of protecting our health. While air pollution levels outdoors are monitored, managed, and reported by experts, the quality of the air in your home is your responsibility to assess.  

Some of the most well-known air quality hazards are mildew, mold, and radon. But overall air quality in your home can be affected by a wide variety of factors, such as the circulation of air, how clean your home is, the building materials that were used, and the function of each area of the home.  

Read on to learn more about the causes of poor air quality, how to assess your home’s air quality, and tips for improving indoor air quality overall.  

What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality? 

Pollutants & Chemicals  

Chemicals such as formaldehyde, ozone, and carbon monoxide can be produced from paint, furniture, flooring and carpeting, cleaning products, and sometimes even the ground beneath the foundation of the home.  

In addition, biological pollutants, including mold, fungi, allergens, and bacteria, can be caused by unmitigated moisture from such things as plumbing leaks and relative humidity, animals, and indoor plants. Inorganic sources can also affect indoor air quality, such as dust, asbestos, combustion, and lead. 

Temperature, Air Circulation, and Humidity 

While the above pollutants are somewhat obvious air quality hazards, there are other factors that can affect the air in your home. If the temperature is too warm or cool, there is poor air circulation, or if the humidity in the air is unbalanced, you’re likely to notice a decrease in the quality of air in your home.  


Poor ventilation can cause low-level pollutants to become concentrated in certain areas. When a home doesn’t have a proper ventilation system, air pollutants are not removed from the air, and fresh, clean air is not being effectively circulated throughout your home. 

When Should I Assess My Home’s Air Quality? 

When it comes to deciding when your home’s air quality should be assessed, just use common sense. If you know you have issues with mold or poor ventilation, then it’s a good idea to get an assessment sooner than later.  

Pay close attention to any conditions that you can see or smell, such as visible water damage or discolouration of the floors or walls. If you notice a strange or unpleasant smell in certain areas of your home, this can also be an indication that there may be something that is affecting your air quality.  

It’s also important to be aware of any physical sensations or persistent health symptoms (such as a chronic cough, headache, or nasal congestion) that you may experience when inside your home, as they can be an indication of poor air quality and the presence of mold, asbestos, or lead.  

How to Perform an Indoor Air Quality Test 

While it is possible to purchase tests that detect certain air quality pollutants such as radon and carbon monoxide, a thorough test of indoor air quality is best left to professionals. A professional indoor air quality assessment includes initial observations, data collection, and testing of samples. The professional will then provide you with a thorough report of their findings and strategies to improve air quality based on their results.  

How to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home  

Keep it Clean – One of the simplest ways to improve the air quality in your home is to establish a thorough and regular cleaning routine. Vacuuming regularly helps to eliminate air pollutants such as dust, pet dander, dirt, and hair. Regularly washing bedding and drapery is also important. By reducing these pollutants in your home, you can dramatically improve indoor air quality.  

Change your Filters & Clean your Vents – Furnace filters and air circulation vents can become very dirty and full of debris. Changing your furnace filter every 3-6 months and regularly vacuuming out floor vents is an important practice when trying to improve air quality.  

Purchase an Air Purifier – Investing in a high-quality air purifier is a great way to improve the air quality in your home. Place it in the highest traffic area of your home, and the purifier will work to remove pollutants and irritants from the air.  

Consider a Dehumidifier – If you are concerned about humidity in your home potentially causing mold or other air pollutants, a dehumidifier can be a great option. By reducing the moisture in the air, your home becomes less hospitable to the growth of mold and other air pollutants.  

The Bottom Line  

While we hear a lot about the quality of air outdoors, the air inside your home is just as important. Hiring a professional to test your indoor air quality is the best way to ensure that you and your family can enjoy a healthy and happy home for years to come. If you want to learn more about how to improve your home’s air quality or to book a professional home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!



Termites can be a nightmare for homeowners as they can cause severe structural damage to homes and other buildings. Damage from termites often goes unnoticed until significant and expensive repairs are required. However, being informed about the warning signs that a termite infestation may be present can help you take the appropriate steps toward preventing or eliminating the problem. 

What are Termites? 

Termites are small insects that are typically smaller than a half-inch long. Termites live in colonies with their own systems and hierarchies, and these colonies vary in size, ranging from only two individuals to several hundred termites. Mature termite colonies can expand to contain as many as 60,000 to 1 million termites, depending on the kind of colony. 

Termites feed on wood for the cellulose content, which can result in extensive damage to the internal structures of homes and buildings.  

Termites in Canada 

The most commonly seen species of termites in Canada include: 

  • Eastern Subterranean Termite (Reticulitermes flavipes)  
  • Western Subterranean Termite (Reticulitermes Hesperus)  
  • Pacific Dampwood Termite (Zootermopsis angusticollis). 

Located in different areas of Canada, subterranean termites tend to be distributed predominantly in urban areas, whereas dampwood termites typically can be found on the western coast of Canada. Subterranean termite species are responsible for the majority of damage that is inflicted on homes, and the dampwood species of termites commonly target extremely moist and rotting wood. The presence of dampwood termites often indicates that there is an ongoing moisture problem. 

Can you See Termites? 

Termites can be seen with the naked human eye, however, they are experts at hiding as they burrow within the walls of homes. This means termites commonly go unnoticed for extended periods of time while they eat away at the internal structure of the building.  

What do Termites Eat? 

Termites consume dead plants and trees which contain a nutrient-dense fibre called cellulose. While termites primarily eat wood, they will also sometimes eat other materials including drywall or plastic materials. The preferred diet for termites depends on their type with dampwood termites prefer moist and rotting wood while drywood and subterranean termites require minimal moisture, which is why they thrive and multiply so well in places such as basements and attics. Termites feed on the structure of the home itself as well as its foundation, furnishings, and occasionally even paper products such as books. 

What are the Signs of a Termite Infestation? 

Termites can exist within a home for several years before the damage they caused becomes visible to the home’s inhabitants. Some signs of a termite infestation include: 

  • Swarming of termites at lights or windows 
  • Finding termite wings caught in cobwebs and on window ledges  
  • The presence of ‘mud tubes’ which are mud-colored structures resembling large straws 
  • Portions of wood are hollowed out 
  • Tiny piles of sawdust 
  • Discovery of soft spots on floor joists or loosening floor tile 
  • Hollow-sounding walls 
  • Drywall damage that bubbles under paint or wallpaper 

Sometimes signs of a termite infection can show up suddenly, or they go undiscovered for years (often until renovations are being completed). All types of homes are susceptible to infestations and can provide cellulose-rich food for termites. It’s important not to wait until signs of termites are visible to take preventative measures as by then the infestation is likely well established. 

How to Prevent a Termite Infestation 

There are a number of things that can be done to help deter termites from infesting your home. Experts suggest keeping the soil around the foundation as dry as possible through appropriate grading and drainage systems and reducing access to your home for termites by repairing any cracks in the foundation with caulk or grout.  

In addition, you should consider: 

  • Avoid planting any shrubs and trees too close to the home and foundation. 
  • Preventing standing water from collecting near the home. 
  • Getting rid of tree stumps and dead or rotting wood near the home. 
  • Schedule routine inspections of your home for pests and potential damage. 
  • Immediately repairing any leaky faucets and/or pipes. 
  • Keeping lumber and firewood away from the home’s foundation. 
  • Keeping downspouts and gutters clear. 
  • Keeping all vents clear. 
  • Removing excessive plant cover. 

If you are concerned that termites may have invaded your home, contact an expert inspector as soon as possible to do a thorough inspection of your home and confirm whether termites are present. If you have seen signs that termites are already in your home, it is important to contact an exterminator as soon as possible. If you want to learn more about termite infestations or to receive a free home inspection quote, contact us at Building Insights today!  


Asbestos 101

What Is Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring type of mineral fiber that can only be identified through a special kind of microscope. There are several different forms of asbestos fibers which in the past were added to many various products to provide them with additional strength, fire resistance, and heat insulation.  

How Does Asbestos Affect Human Health? 

There has been a significant amount of research done on individuals who were exposed to asbestos in various environments, such as in shipyards or factories. We now know that breathing large amounts of asbestos fibers leads to an increased risk of developing lung cancer, specifically mesothelioma. This type of cancer affects the lining of the abdominal cavity and chest. Asbestos exposure can also lead to asbestosis, which causes the lungs to develop scar tissue.  

These risks increase with the number of fibres that have been inhaled. Smoking tobacco also increases the risk of developing lung cancer related to asbestos exposure. In most cases, individuals who develop asbestosis have sustained prolonged exposure to high levels of asbestos fibres. The symptoms related to these diseases typically do not arise until 20 to 30 years after the initial asbestos exposure.  

When exposed to a smaller amount of asbestos fibres in their daily lives, most people do not develop serious health problems. When asbestos fibres are disturbed, however, fibres can be released from the material which in turn can be inhaled into the lungs. These fibres can remain within the lungs for extended periods, which increases the risk of developing lung disease. Asbestos materials that are crumbly when handled, or have been scraped, sanded, or sawed are more likely to result in a health hazard.    

Where Can Asbestos Hazards Be Found in a Home? 

While it is no longer common practice to use asbestos materials when insulating or fireproofing a home, it can still be found in older homes. An experienced home inspector can help you to identify potential asbestos materials in your home. Some of the most commonly found areas that contain asbestos include:  

  • Siding & Roofing Shingles Made with Asbestos Cement 
  • Insulation in Houses Built Between 1930 – 1950  
  • Textured Paint & Some Patching Compounds (Banned in 1977.) 
  • Artificial Embers or Ashes for Gas-Fired Fireplaces  
  • Older Fire-Proofed Products (such as stove-top pads) 
  • Floors & Walls Surrounding Wood-Burning Stoves (protected with asbestos cement sheets, millboard, or paper.) 
  • Vinyl Floor Tiles & Backings on Vinyl Sheet Adhesives & Flooring 
  • Steam & Hot Water Pipes in Older Homes (often coated in asbestos materials or covered with asbestos tape or blanket.) 
  • Coal or Oil Furnaces, as well as Door Gaskets, may Contain Asbestos Insulation 

What Can Be Done About Asbestos in the Home? 

If you think there may be asbestos materials within your home, there’s no need to panic.  In most cases, the best course of action is to leave any asbestos material that you find in good condition undisturbed. Generally, asbestos material that is in good condition does not release harmful asbestos fibers. Asbestos only becomes dangerous when the material is disturbed and the tiny fibers are released into the air and inhaled. 

If you discover asbestos in your home, don’t touch it, but examine it thoroughly for signs of damage or wear, such as water damage, tears, or abrasions. Damaged asbestos materials pose a health risk, as they will release dangerous fibers. This is particularly dangerous if the materials are disturbed by handling, hitting, or rubbing, or if they are exposed to significant vibrations or airflow. The best course of action for slightly damaged material is to reduce access to the area and ensure that the material is not touched or disturbed in any way. Damaged asbestos materials should be carefully removed and discarded according to local health and environmental regulations. If you discover materials that are damaged more significantly, or if you are planning to make changes or renovations within your home, removal or repair by a professional is highly recommended. 

The Bottom Line 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that in the past was heavily used in a variety of home fireproofing and insulation products. When left undisturbed behind walls or flooring, it is generally considered safe. Before you have your home listed for sale or you embark on a renovation project, it is important first to establish whether there are asbestos materials within your home. If you are unsure about whether your home contains asbestos materials, or whether there is a health hazard involved, it is best to leave it to a professional.  

Contact Building Insights today to learn more or to receive your free quote!  


What is the Difference Between a Home Inspection and an Appraisal

If you’re considering selling your home or purchasing a new one, you’ve likely heard the terms ‘home appraisal’ and ‘home inspection’ come up as you familiarize yourself with the buying or selling process.  

Both a home inspection and an appraisal are essential elements in most real estate deals. But for new buyers or sellers, it is common for there to be confusion surrounding these two terms. A home inspector and appraiser offer two different services, but both include a thorough evaluation of the home.  

It is important to understand the differences between these two service providers, as well as their role in the buying or selling process, in order to be properly informed before you begin.  

In this article, we will explore the differences between a home appraisal and a home inspection as well as how to know which is right for you.  

What Is a Home Appraisal? 

A home appraisal is also occasionally referred to as a real estate appraisal or property appraisal. It consists of a third-party report that is created by a professional home appraiser. The purpose of an appraisal is to inform the homeowner (or interested buyer) and their mortgage lender of the current monetary value of the property.  

Home appraisals help to ensure that all involved parties in a real estate deal are provided with an accurate, current, and fair value of the property. Home appraisers calculate the value by checking the general condition of the property as well as comparing it against other homes in the area that have recently sold or are currently listed. A professional appraiser will also look at such things as square footage, the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, any signs of obvious damage, the quality of the views and property as well as the condition of the major systems and structures within the home.  

Appraisals will often factor in elements of the neighbourhood such as nearby schools, walkability and proximity to amenities, local crime rates, future construction zones, and other things that can affect the value of the home.  

What Is a Home Inspection? 

A home inspection involves a thorough examination of all elements of the home and property. The home inspector will identify potential issues with the home such as foundation issues, damage or leaking of the roof, mold or water damage, building code violations, signs of pet infestations, or faulty or poorly installed electrical or plumbing systems, to name a few.  

A home inspector’s job is not to report on the monetary value of the home, but on how well-maintained the home is, identify repairs that need to be made, estimate overall maintenance costs, and potential future expenses that are related to the upkeep of the home.  

While an appraisal will report on the general condition of the home, an inspection looks at the home in more detail and identifies current and future issues for the buyer to be aware of. They will look at the condition of the doors and windows, drywall, flooring, woodwork, plumbing, electrical, major appliances such as furnaces and water heaters, the roof, foundation, and the property as a whole.  

Do I Need Both an Appraisal and a Home Inspection? 

If you are the buyer, a home appraisal is almost always required if you need to secure a mortgage from a lender in order to purchase the home. Even though a home inspection isn’t always mandatory, it is highly recommended when you are in the process of purchasing a home. While a home inspection will add a small expense to the process, it can save you thousands of dollars down the road.  

Both a home inspection and an appraisal will help you establish whether the property you are considering is truly worth the amount it is being sold for. A home inspection is especially recommended in situations where the property is on the older side, is in a neighbourhood you are not familiar with, or is no longer under a builder or developer’s warranty.  

The Bottom Line  

A home appraisal and a home inspection will help to give you a full picture of the property you are interested in, without having to go only on the word of the seller and their agent. In almost all cases it is strongly recommended to have both services performed to ensure your peace of mind.  

If you want to learn more about the home inspection process, receive a free quote, or book your home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!  



Odour Remediation

The smell of a person’s home can be as unique as the home or the person itself, and there are no two homes that smell exactly the same. Smells within a home can vary widely depending on the food that is cooked, cleaning and laundry products that are used, whether there are pets in the home, whether the inhabitants are smokers, and the list goes on. In the home inspection industry, unwelcome contaminants that alter the smell of a home are referred to as ‘malodors.’  

Anything from smoke, char, mold, wet materials, sewage, pests, and mildew are all examples of things that can cause the development of unwelcome and unpleasant smells within a home. Whether you are preparing your home to be sold, are considering purchasing a home, or are simply wanting to eliminate unpleasant smells in your home, there are many things that can be done. Here are our best tips when it comes to removing unpleasant and unwanted smells from a home: 

Identify the Smell 

While this may seem obvious, it can often be one of the most difficult parts of odor remediation. In some cases, identifying the source of the odor is easy (such as tobacco smoke, or mold) and sometimes it can be more complex. This can also be difficult because it is common for smells to be experienced differently by different people.  

Remove the Source 

Once you have identified the source of the odor, the next step is to remove the source of the odor. Again, how involved this is will depend on what is causing the unpleasant smell. In some cases, this means removing rugs and carpets that cannot be salvaged or finding removing pests or deceased wildlife. In other cases, it can mean a more involved odor remediation plan, such as addressing smoke damage following a fire. 

Do a Thorough Cleaning 

Once you have identified and removed the source of the odor, you are well on your way toward eliminating the odor from your home. The next step involves a deep and thorough cleaning of the area, or ideally, the entire home. It is important to remember that using products that are heavily perfumed, including air fresheners and scented candles, will not be effective in eliminating the odor, they will only mask it.  

The Power of Baking Soda  

While there are so many products available to help remove unpleasant odors, they can be expensive and often release unpleasant smells of their own. Depending on the severity of the smell, baking soda can be incredibly effective. Leaving whole boxes of baking soda open in the area where the smell is most concentrated will allow the baking soda to absorb and trap the odor. Baking soda can also be sprinkled on carpets and rugs, used in laundry, and more.  

Fresh Air & Ventilation  

Even though you’ve removed the source of the odor and cleared the home thoroughly, the smell in your home may still linger. The best thing you can do at this point is open up all your windows, and use fans and air purifiers. Moving the air with the unpleasant smell out of your home and replacing it with clean, fresh, outdoor air will do wonders.  

Ask an Expert  

If all of the above tips fail, it’s time to call an expert. Home inspectors are experts when it comes to identifying, removing, and eliminating unpleasant odors in residential homes. Not only will a home inspector be able to identify the source of the smell, but they will also be able to provide you with their best advice on how to eliminate the odor completely. Working with an experienced home inspector means you won’t waste time on methods that don’t work, or struggling to identify the source of the smell, which can save you lots of money and stress in the long run.  

The Bottom Line  

When it comes to unpleasant odors in a home, the solution for removing them isn’t always black and white. It is important to correctly identify the source or the smell in order to effectively remove the odor, and this can often be the most difficult part of the process. Hiring a licensed and experienced home inspector is often the best option when it comes to odor remediation. At Building Insights, we bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table and pride ourselves on providing the highest level of service and experience. Contact Building Insights today for a free quote or to book your home inspection today!



Home Inspection Tips for Buyers in 2023

The process of buying a home can often take months. By the time you feel prepared to close on a certain property, you may think you know all there is to know about it. However, it can be difficult to know what to keep an eye out for when examining potential problems and repairs later down the road.  

Hiring a home inspector during your home-buying process can ensure that the property you choose is right for you before you move in. A home inspection can also inform what the level of maintenance on the property will be. There are a few key things to keep in mind during the home inspection process to ensure that you are informed and protected when purchasing your home. Our top home inspection tips for buyers in 2023 include:  

Understand the Home Inspection Process 

A home inspection involves a detailed visual examination and evaluation of a home, and is typically part of the home buying process, though home inspections can be helpful in other situations as well.  

In most cases, a home inspector is hired by the prospective buyer, and the inspection occurs prior to closing but after the buyer’s offer has been accepted by the seller.  

A home inspection helps to identify potential flaws in the systems within or structure of the home. This helps to ensure that unsuspecting buyers don’t move into a possibly hazardous home. While a home inspection adds a relatively small cost to the buying process, it can save the buyer significant amounts of money, stress, and time in the long run. If the home inspector uncovers problems or the need for necessary repairs during the inspection, the buyer can negotiate with the seller to have the repairs done or offer a lower sale price. The buyer also has the option of backing out of the sale should the inspector discover significant issues with the home.  

A home inspector will conduct a thorough examination of all interior and exterior elements of the home, from the roof to the foundation. This includes examining the heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems, as well as all structural elements such as windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, and staircases. Once the inspection has been completed, the inspector will create an extensive report that includes the details of all of their findings.  

Appreciate the Importance of a Home Inspection 

While a home inspection adds another expense to what can already be a costly process, it almost always proves to be money well spent. A home inspection protects the buyer and ensures that they have all the necessary information before committing to one of the biggest purchases of their lifetime. When problems are identified during a pre-close home inspection, those issues are still the responsibility of the seller and must be addressed in some way.  

A home inspection also helps to inform the buyer about the projected maintenance costs involved with the home. This extra step during the home buying process helps to ensure that you are moving into a home that is safe, in good condition, and won’t result in significant unwelcome surprises and expenses as time goes on.  

Ask The Seller About a Pre-Listing Inspection 

Sometimes, a seller will hire a home inspector before they list their home on the market. This can help to protect both the seller and the buyer and can eliminate surprises or failed deals during the selling process. If you are considering or are in the process of purchasing a particular home, ask the seller if they had a pre-listing home inspection done.  

A pre-listing home inspection can also help the seller price the property accurately, and give them the opportunity to make any major repairs or replacements before listing the home. 

Find the Right Home Inspector 

Finding the right home inspector is maybe the most important element of the home inspection process. An accurate and thorough home inspection requires extensive training, expertise, and knowledge on the part of the inspector. When choosing a home inspector, you want to examine their licensing, certifications, experience, and reputation within the industry. A home inspector who has dedicated their time and money to developing their craft and gaining the necessary training and certification will usually be among the most highly recommended in a particular region.  

At Building Insights, our inspection services and reports far surpass the standards within the industry. Keith Langlois is a registered home inspector who is qualified through the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. Keith also brings more than 20 years of experience and expertise to the table and prides himself on providing the highest level of service and integrity. Contact Building Insights for your free quote or to book your home inspection today!