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Buying a House – Buyer Beware

When Buying a House – Buyer Beware

Most people have no idea what to look for when buying a house.  They will get advice from relatives and friends which usually involves making sure there is no water in the basement, no mould in the house and to look for cracks in the foundation.  While this advice maybe sound, it just barely scratches the surface if items you should be aware of.  New home buyers  may be quick to spot the visible cosmetic repairs – a coat of paint, a new tile here or there – but what about the less obvious repairs that can quickly send you into a financial crisis. Who’s to say that termites and carpenter ants aren’t quietly gnawing away at the floor joists or roof rafters? Or that the harmless-looking crack in the foundation won’t eventually set you back a few thousand dollars, or cause flooding of your basement.




Purpose of Home Inspection

The best time to uncover what problems may be lurking in your new home is before you buy it. That way you know exactly what you’re getting (or not getting), and allow you to budget how much it will cost to make the needed repairs. Since the owner, eager to make a sale, and the agent, equally as eager to collect the commission, are probably not the best source of unbiased information, you might want to engage the services of an “professional” home inspector”. For a fee of about $400.00, a home inspector will assess the house from the basement to the rafters, and present you with a computerized report complete with pictures of any issues. In Ontario your Offer to Purchase will usually include a Standard Condition regarding you having a Home Inspection.  Due to the large investment you are making you might want to find your own Home Inspector as some Realtor’s may have a cozy relationship with someone they refer.   Ontario is also looking to remove the ability or Realtors to “double end” a Real Estate transaction, this is where an agent would represent both buyer and seller.

New Home Buyers usually “mistakenly” think that because they are using a Realtor they have some protection.  In most cases whenever a buyer contacts a Realtor about problems after the Sale of the Home, the Buyer is told to contact the Home Inspector.  In Barrie ON Listing Agents were once required to fill out a SPIS Form ( Seller Property Information Statement ) and have seller sign the form, which then becomes part of Real Estate Transaction.  OREA has since removed the SPIS Form from use in the Barrie area as it has been at the root of countless lawsuits.  The SPIS Form creates an Obligation on the seller to disclose existing information but of any changes to information prior to closing date.  So a Realtor is really only negotiating a Purchase on your behalf,  you  cannot expect anymore or less, unless the Realtor is representing both parties, then you will definitely get less.  That is why having a Home Inspector,  whose only concern, is your best interest is so important to protect your investment.

Having any suspicious products found in your home tested for Asbestos is always a good idea.  Vermiculite Insulation and Asbestos Wrapped Insulation on heating ducts are very common on Century Style Homes.
Another common item which can be found in older homes is “Knob and Tube Wiring“.   Removal and upgrading electrical wiring would typically have a starting price of around 10 to 15 thousand dollars.

Some Key Items  you can expect to be covered in a home inspection report:

  • Structural components including foundation and framing of the home.
  • Exterior features including siding, soffit, porches, balconies, walkways, railings and driveways.
  • Roof system including shingles, flashing and skylights.
  • Electrical system including service panels, breakers and fuses.
  • Plumbing systems including pipes, drains, water heating equipment and sump pumps.
  • Heating system including equipment and venting.
  • Cooling system including energy sources and distribution equipment.
  • Interior features including walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, stairs and railings.
  • Insulation and ventilation including those in the attic and other unfinished spaces.
  • Fireplaces including chimneys and vents.  ( These items are only covered by Certified WETT Inspector )

Do not make the mistake of cost being a factor when choosing  your home inspector. The knowledge gained from a professional inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training and any government certifications as a guide.  For example the Barrie Home Inspector is a Certified Building Code Official with the Ontario Building Officials Association.   Taking between 15-20 one week courses at the OBOA are required to obtain Certification.

5 home inspection you should avoid

  1. Not researching the inspector.
  2. Not attending the inspection.
  3. Not reading the inspection report.
  4. Not getting a pre-sale inspection.
  5. Not preparing the home for sale.

Thermal Imaging Scans are typically included by most Professional Home Inspectors.  Using an Infrared Camera can help find hidden moisture, missing insulation and electrical hot spots.