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WHAT IS AN INSPECTION REPORT?

Homeowners will receive a comprehensive and thorough post-inspection report after every property inspection completed by the Building Insights team. Every home is unique; therefore, every report will be different! To give you an idea of what our inspection report will contain, we’ve outlined what a typical report looks like.

Introduction

The first few pages of your inspection report will have information regarding the property, including your name and property address, as well as a table of contents to direct you through the report. A standard pre-inspection agreement will follow, which outlines the purpose of the inspection, legal information and what is included in the inspection. You will also be able to see your invoice in this section, which outlines the inspection date, customer/property information, cost of services and payment information.

The next page will outline key terms and definitions which will be used throughout the report. A short description of the property and the day of inspection weather conditions will be summarized.

Exterior Components

The next few pages will be dedicated to the findings of the property’s exterior, including windows, gutters, drainage, decks, porches, walkways, and retaining walls. Each section and feature will be rated acceptable, marginal, not inspected, not present or repair/replace. Information about the condition of the roof and flat roof areas will follow. Pictures and comments of the findings, especially areas of concerns, will be presented.

Internal Components

The next few pages will summarize structural components of the property, including foundation, framing and support, floor, attic space, cold room and crawlspace. From there, we will outline electrical information, plumbing and heating/ventilation. Pictures and comments of the findings will again be presented, and important dates of equipment and lifespan of equipment will be noted.

Interior

The last section of the report will discuss the condition of the inside of the property, including floors, steps, windows, appliances, sinks, and insulation.

Summary

Your report will conclude with a written summary of all of the findings and recommendations going forward. The summary is not the entire report, so it recommended that clients read the complete report for full understanding of issues.

After completing a home inspection with Building Insights, your report will be available to you in HTML or PDF format, and can be easily downloaded, forwarded or printed and remains accessible for five years through our website. To view a sample report for yourself, check out: https://www.homegauge.com/report/6372270/StandardReportFormat%28Upload%29.html.

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TERMITES

Termites, also known as the “silent destroyer”, can be a scary thing to think about! To help you understand what termites are, where they live and how to prevent them, we’ve outlined crucial information that every homeowner should be aware of when it comes to these disruptive insects.  

Ontario Termites

Termites thrive in most southern spots in Canada, and especially along the coasts. In Ontario, we have several termite hotspots including Kincardine, Toronto, Guelph, Elora, Fergus and Kitchener.  Although there are many types of termites in the rest of the world, the only type found in Ontario are called “subterranean termites”.

The city of Guelph has seen a steady decline in active termite activity, and is at the lowest level since 1999, when Guelph started recording termite activity. Dr. Tim Myles implemented a five-year experimental period to use zinc borate, which he called the Trap-Treat-Release method, to fight against termites. 

What do termites look like?

The city of Guelph states that subterranean termites are “small insects, approximately the size of a grain of rice, are creamy white in colour, and have 6 legs”. Some experts say that termites look like white ants but without a constricted waist.

Where do they live?

Termites occur in large colonies, live underground and feed on virtually every type of wood. All termites are drawn to dark, damp places and can be found in wood in or around your home.  

Can you prevent termites?

All homes (even new homes) can provide food for termite infestations, which is why every homeowner should learn key prevention tips to avoid an infestation.

  • Clear your property of any unused wood, including tree stumps, dead trees, and wood chip mulch.
  • Fix any cracks in your housing foundation/entry points, as termites can enter through them.
  • Store firewood and lumber off of the ground, ideally in the sun, and as far away from the house as possible.
  • Fix any moisture problems that you house may have.
  • Consider having your house pre-treated for termites, especially if your building a new home.

How to Spot Termites

Between April and November, it is recommended that homeowners hire a professional to do an annual inspection to look for termites, but there are also things homeowner can look for themselves. Examine any wood inside or outside of your house to observe the condition of it; if you notice any small holes or sawdust, this may indicate a termite problem. You may also see live or dead termites, droppings and wings near or in wood. You will also want to examine wood stumps, compost bins and under porches/decks to see the condition of the wood.

What to do if you suspect or find termites in your home

Once discovering or suspecting a termite infestation, it is highly recommended to hire a professional exterminator to eliminate these pesky insects. You will also want to notify your neighbours to inform them of the infestation, so they too can search and eliminate any potential problems. Some cities, such as Guelph, have strict termite procedures for anyone living within termite management zones, however, other cities, such as Kitchener and Waterloo, do not track addresses where termites have been found.

For more information about termites in Guelph, including termite management areas, check out http://guelph.ca/living/house-and-home/termites.

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WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A HOME INSPECTION

Visiting your potential home during a home inspection can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time; the house of your dreams is so close to being yours, but you’re not sure what problems could arise. On the other hand, if you’ve scheduled a pre-listing inspection before selling your house, the same anxieties can arise regarding the condition of your property.

Whether you are buying or selling, a home inspection is an invaluable investment, and we’re here to walk you through what goes on during an inspection.

Home Inspection Basics

On average, a home inspection takes between two to three hours. A home inspection will provide you with an unbiased, objective assessment of the property you are about to sell or buy. To put you in the best position to make a decision about your investment, clients are highly encouraged to attend the full inspection, ask questions about any concerns and learn more in-depth information about the property.

During the Inspection

Home inspectors will walk their clients through the interior and exterior of the property and will visually assess major mechanical and electrical systems. They will take their time to explain what they are specifically looking for and what they find along the way. Items that are typically inspected are plumbing, electrical, grading, roofing, siding, windows, doors, HVAC systems, the foundation, and much more! Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns at any time during the inspection.

After the Inspection

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will verbally go over what was found, the severity of potential issues and share their objective recommendations going forward.

They will also provide you with a comprehensive computer generated report detailing the current condition of the property. This report will include digital pictures of significant findings of the property, as well as comments with recommendations. Since all problems can be repaired, a home inspection won’t pass or fail. Potential buyers can take their time to discuss the findings privately, as well as with their real estate agent, to plan the next steps in the home buying or selling process.

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7 WAYS TO PREPARE FOR A HOME INSPECTION

Some homeowners feel a bit anxious before a home inspection occurs since the findings can influence the property price and ultimately helps buyers decide if they want to continue on with the buying process.

Here are 7 ways to prepare your home before a potential buyer and inspector visits.

1) Clean inside and outside. Not only will you want to make sure the inside of the house is easy to maneuver around in by removing clutter, you will also want to make sure you clean out your gutters in the spring/fall, and remove snow from around your house in the winter.

2) Clear access to all areas of your house. Home inspectors will inspect areas of your house that may not get much use, which results in cluttered and blocked off areas. Make sure the home inspector can easily get to your electrical box, furnace, hot water heater, air condition, and attic. 

3) Make sure everything works. Go around you house and test everything! This includes light bulbs, smoke detectors, doorbells, sinks/faucets, outlets, toilets, windows, and appliances. Most of these issues are quick and easy fixes and will improve the final inspection report.

4) Fix known issues before inspection. If you’ve noticed any signs of water damage, mold, or electrical issues while living in your house, address these issues with a professional beforehand. These common issues have resulted in potential buyers walking away from a house, or re-negotiating the price, which is why it may be worth the cost to fix beforehand.

5) Take a closer look at your basement. Basements aren’t always used, so it’s important to closely inspect this area before an inspector visits. Look for leaks and cracks that may suggest foundation and water issues.

6) Make paperwork available to inspector. To give the inspector greater knowledge of your property, leave any documentation/receipts regarding recent maintenance and repairs you may have done, including information about your roof, furnace and water heater.

7) Be prepared to leave your home during inspection. While potential homeowners are encouraged to attend home inspections to learn more about the property, it is suggested that the current homeowners leave for a few hours, and take pets with them. Be mindful that home inspectors usually show up a bit early to visually assess the outside of the property before their clients arrive.

Home inspections shouldn’t be a scary thing, and a little preparation before can go a long way! Following these simple steps can help ensure your home inspection goes quickly and smoothly. 

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THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HOME INSPECTIONS

Whether you are buying or selling a house, a home inspection is invaluable to both parties. Most homeowners are aware of the standard pre-purchase inspection, but many do not know the benefits of a pre-listing or pre-offer inspection. 

Pre-Listing Inspection

A pre-listing inspection takes place by the seller prior to putting the property on the market, and has countless benefits for homeowners, realtors, and potential buyers. The valuable information found during this inspection can be used to assess a reasonable value sale price. If issues are found during this inspection, homeowners have time to fix them, which will increase the value of their home.

Knowing your house from top to bottom can facilitate a quicker sale and eliminate the need for re-negotiating. Sharing your findings of this inspection will give potential buyers a good idea of the condition of your home, and can help eliminate conditional offers. Many homeowners will use this report as a marketing tool to sell their home; potential buyers will read the report, consider the potential issues and make an informed decision, resulting in only serious buyers putting in offers.

Pre-Offer Inspection

A pre-offer inspection is done by buyers prior to putting an offer in on a property, and will be as thorough and informative as a pre-purchase inspection. This type of inspection is beneficial for buyers for many reasons, including making their offer more attractive to the sellers. Removing the condition of a home inspection from the offer may speed the purchasing process along. In addition, buyers will be able to make an educated price offer based on the information provided in the inspection.

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Deciding to have a pre-purchase inspection allows potential homeowners to walk through the property with a professional inspector after putting an offer in on the property. The home inspector will provide valuable information so that homeowners can make an educated decision whether they want to continue with the buying process. In addition, the home inspector will explain how your potential new home operates, how to take care of it, and repairs you can anticipate in the future.

Having an objective and comprehensive review of the condition of a property by a qualified, professional inspector is beneficial to both buyers and sellers in all stages of the home buying/selling process. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial investments a person will make, however, having all of the essential information provided by a home inspection will make sure you are confident in your decision.

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HOW TO SELECT A HOME INSPECTOR

A home inspection is the first thing you will invest in during the home selling or home buying process. Not all home inspectors are created equal, which is why it is important that you do your homework before selecting one.

When it comes to hiring a home inspector, here are some important questions to ask:

Do they belong to an association?

While joining a home inspection association is a great first step when becoming a home inspector, customers should be aware that inspectors pay a fee to join an association. This means that they don’t necessarily have any other certifications or experience to back it up.

What are their qualifications?

You should make sure that your inspector has their registered home inspector certification (RHI), which ensures they are trained to objectively provide you with a comprehensive analysis of the home, while abiding to a specific code of ethics. Although the Ontario government has passed a bill to licence the industry, it has not yet taken effect and it may be some time before it does. Therefore you must remain diligent in your selection.

When an inspector has relevant trade experience, they bring so much more expertize to the table. Look for someone who not only has their registered home inspector certification, but has more hands-on experience in certain trades, such as electrical, plumbing or roofing.

How long have they been in the business?

The amount of years a home inspector has been in the business reflects highly on the quality of their work. Picking someone who has been trusted by hundreds of home owners and has a great reputation in your community will give you confidence that you can really trust their analysis and recommendations.

How well do they communicate?

Not every home owner has experience in spotting and understanding potential issues in a home. When selecting a home inspector, you should pick one that you feel at ease with and that encourages questions. An expert inspector should take the time to explain how your home operates, how to take care of it, and discusses repairs you can anticipate down the road. Do they share their experience and recommendations in a way that everyone can understand? The answer should be yes! 

Purchasing a home is a major decision, that comes with a huge amount of stress. Most consumers spend weeks, months and even years searching for their dream home, but won’t take much time to consider who will search this home for potential issues. It is imperative to maintain the same standards when it comes to choosing your home inspector, as you do when choosing your new house.

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CARPENTER ANTS

While last month’s newsletter we discussed how to humanely evict bats and raccoons from your property, this month we discover what carpenter ants are really about, and how to deal with them.
 
Like all insects, carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) are cold blooded. They congregate in dead trees and other hidden places during the winter and search for food in the warmer spring and summer months.
 
It’s during this time, as the sun shines through your kitchen window, you’ll notice carpenter ants on your hardwood or linoleum floor. They are red or black ants that vary in length from 6 to 25 mm. They are on a trek for carbohydrate-rich foods.
 
Carpenter ants are omnivorous. They can eat a wide variety of plant and animal foods, including fruits, sweets such as syrup and jam, and meat. Despite what their name implies, they cannot digest wood cellulose like termites.
 
Typically, when a person spots a carpenter ant inside the home, they assume the worst. They fear a swarming, thriving ant colony is breeding within the house. This is rarely the case. Carpenter ants live in hollow trees, logs, landscaping timbers, and soil, and will march hundreds of metres from their colony in search of food.
 
According to Gary Umphrey, an ant expert and mathematics professor at the University of Guelph, there’s a 90% likelihood the ants are only passing through.
 
The 10% exception is homes with decaying wood structures due to an ongoing moisture problem. Carpenter ants will burrow and nest in the moist, decaying wood. Evidence of them nesting in your home may include small holes and trails of sawdust.
 
If these signs of infestation are visible, structural damage may be extreme. You’ll want to contact a Registered Home Inspector for professional advice.
 
To deal with carpenter ants, the federal government’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency recommends correcting humidity issues that may be affecting wood structures, removing sweets, grains and meat products, and carting away firewood that may have transported ants into the house.
 
Other natural and humane ways to keep ants at bay include:
  • sprinkling bay leaves or cayenne pepper near cracks and entry points. Ants hate the scent and will move elsewhere.
  • spray a cleaning solution of vinegar, water, and about ten drops of tea tree oil around your counters and doorway
  • draw chalk lines around your doorways and windowsills. Ants do not like particles sticking to their feet
  • If a colony is well established in the home, various chemical treatments are available (although they are not ecologically friendly or humane).
 
Regardless, you’ll see ants less in the summer months. Ants, like humans, tend to scale back their work activities as the weather gets hotter. In the autumn, as their food stores fill, they become even more scarce before disappearing for the winter.
 

Thanks for reading this month’s newsletter. Hopefully this article shed new light on the unduly maligned carpenter ant. A little understanding about these creatures can save a lot of unnecessary anxiety and expense!
 
Next month we’ll be back with more insights on home ownership. Until then, enjoy the summer.