Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Past imperfect
A home inspector can uncover problems with a property
By MARK SALERNO, Special to QMI Agency

Image: Shutterstock

When you’re buying a home, you need to know as much as possible about its condition in order to make an informed decision. One of the best ways to learn about a home’s condition – and any potential problems – is to hire a professional home inspector.

A properly trained home inspector will go through the property and perform a comprehensive visual inspection to assess the condition of the house and all of its systems. They will determine the components that are not performing properly as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. They will also identify areas where repairs may be needed or where there may have been problems in the past.

An Inspection is intended to provide you with a better understanding of property conditions as observed at the time of the inspection – it is a visual inspection and is not intended to provide you with any type of warranty.

If you can, it’s a good idea for you to accompany the inspector during the inspection. That way, he or she can answer any questions you might have on the spot and clarify the limitations of the inspection to avoid misunderstandings. The home inspector generally will provide you with a written report reviewing every major home system and component within 24 hours of the inspection.

Choosing a home inspector

Home inspection requires special training, knowledge and communication skills. However, there is currently no mandatory certification and no legislated requirement for home inspectors to take any courses or to have passed any tests (except in British Columbia, where home inspectors must be licensed). You’ll want to take your time and choose an inspector wisely.

You can start your search by asking friends or family members who have recently purchased a home or check association websites, the Yellow Pages or trade magazines to find a qualified home inspector in your area.

Most reputable home and property inspectors generally belong to a provincial or regional industry association – make sure the person you are considering belongs to an association and find out whether they meet its standards of competency. In BC, you should ask to see the inspector’s license. Finally, be sure to ask for three references from each inspector you talk to, and call the references to see whether they were satisfied with the service they received.

Buying a home is probably one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. A home inspection may help you avoid unpleasant and costly surprises after you move in. To help you learn more, CMHC has a free About Your House fact sheet called Hiring a Home Inspector available online or by calling our toll free number: 1-800-668-2642.

Mark Salerno is district manager for the Greater Toronto Area at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. You can reach him at 416-218-3479 or

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