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Home Inspection for First-Time Home Buyers

The role of a home inspection is to help a potential buyer make a more informed decision about the home they are considering buying. A home inspector is an expert in the identification of potential issues, as well as providing the potential buyer with a better idea of the ongoing maintenance and associated costs that the property will require.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, a thorough home inspection by an experienced professional can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected maintenance and repairs, or from unknowingly buying a money pit.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a thorough visual assessment of a home’s internal and external physical structure and mechanical systems, such as the roof, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors, as well as the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems.

The home inspector will ensure that the major appliances are functional, evaluate the condition of the heating and air-conditioning systems, examine the electrical and plumbing systems, and check around the attic and basement.

The primary goal of a home inspection is to identify issues within the home itself. What a home inspector won’t tell you is whether you’re getting a “good deal” on the home or provide an opinion on the sale or asking price.

When Does the Home Inspection Happen?

The home inspection typically happens after the seller has accepted the buyer’s offer but before closing on the sale of the house. In order to provide adequate time for additional inspections or negotiations with the seller, the home inspection should be scheduled as soon as possible once you’re under contract.

It is important to allow at least seven to ten days in the home-buying process to take care of the home inspection.

How to Hire a Home Inspector

As the buyer, it’s your job to choose and hire a home inspector. In some cases, the seller will offer to provide their own home inspection report or claim that the house is pre-inspected. While this may seem tempting, you’ll want to arrange your own inspection to ensure that you can properly vet the inspector yourself.

In Ontario, Home inspectors are required to be licensed and insured, but this is simply the bare minimum.

To find a reputable inspector, seek recommendations from friends and peers, and find an inspector who is well-established and experienced. You can also check your local Better Business Bureau to see if the home inspector you are considering has a record of complaints.

One of the best practices is to interview any potential home inspectors about their experience, certifications, training, and potential areas of expertise. For example, if you’re considering purchasing a fixer-upper or an older house, you’ll probably want an inspector who knows historic homes.

You can also ask for references from previous clients, particularly homeowners who have been in their ’new’ homes for six months or more. This can help to determine whether any problems arose that were not reported in their inspections.

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

A home inspection typically takes several hours to complete a thorough walk-through and visual inspection of the home you’re considering buying. During that time, your home inspector will take notes and pictures. The most important part is that your inspector will provide an objective opinion on the condition of the home, as they are an unbiased expert.

What Won’t My Home Inspector Do?

Your home inspector won’t necessarily determine whether the home is compliant with local building codes. They also won’t comment on anything cosmetic, unless they reveal larger problems. For instance, they may comment on a ceiling stain because it indicates the presence of water damage.

While inspectors typically have a keen eye for detail, they won’t be able to identify anything that is unseen. This means that issues such as pests, asbestos, mold, or other potentially dangerous issues may go unnoticed.

Finally, any areas that aren’t easily accessible, such as a septic tank, won’t be included in the inspection as those types of issues often require specialized evaluations.

What’s Included in a Home Inspector’s Report?

A high-quality home inspection report should be extensive and thorough and contain checklists, summaries, photographs, and notes. The report may also contain an estimate of the remaining functional life of major equipment and systems, as well as of the roof, structure, paint, and finishes.

The Bottom Line

A home inspection is not a pass-or-fail examination. No fixes are mandatory following a home inspection, though it might uncover issues that require further negotiations with the seller. Ultimately, you’ll learn a whole lot about the home and increase confidence in your decision to move into your new house or discover enough that you decide to pass on the purchase.

Contact us at Building Insights for a free quote or to book your inspection today!

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