Understanding your Home Inspection

To fully understand the condition of your new home you need to hire a Professional Home Inspector prior to committing to the purchase.  As a buyer it is your responsibility and part of your due diligence to ensure the Home Inspector you hire is competent and able to communicate his findings to you in a clear and concise method.   Interviewing your prospective home inspector is a must if you want to ensure you are getting the best value available for your inspection fee.  Your Home Inspector’s Knowledge and Experience is the only thing between you and an unwanted surprise when you move into your new home.

Your Professional Home inspection will help you make the right decision about buying a home. Your typical inspection items include Roof Inspection, Interior Finish Assessment, Heating & Ventilation Review, Electrical Inspection, Plumbing Review, Structural Assessment and a Foundation Inspection. Each item is visually assessed, giving you as a homeowner, the information you need to buy the right home for you. That will give you PEACE OF MIND.

What is a Home Inspection?

home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.

In Ontario a contract to purchase a house will typically include a condition that the contract is not valid until the buyer, through a home inspector or other agents, has had an opportunity to verify the condition of the property.  Home Inspectors in Ontario are not required to be licensed so it is up to the Home Buyer to ensure their choice of inspector is qualified to provide the level of inspection that they require.

Limitations of a Home Inspection

A professional home inspection is a visual inspection of your homes systems and major accessible components looking for defects and safety issues. This inspection is not technically exhaustive.  Your home inspection is designed to reflect, as accurately as possible, the visible condition of the home at the time of the inspection. Conditions at a home for sale can change radically in only a day or two, so a home inspection is not meant to guarantee what condition a home will be in when the transaction closes. It’s not uncommon for conditions to change between the time of the inspection and the closing date.

A “visual” inspection means that a home inspection report is limited to describing conditions in those parts of a home that an inspector can see during the inspection. Obviously, parts of the home that are permanently hidden by wall, ceiling and floor coverings are excluded, but so are parts of the home that were inaccessible during the inspection for some other reason. Some reasons might include lack of an access point, such as a door or hatch, or a locked access point, or because an occupant’s belongings blocked access, or because of dangerous or unsanitary conditions.

There can be many more reasons. The point is that if an inspector can’t see a portion of the home, the inspector can’t assume responsibility for ensuring that a safe and proper condition exists or that systems are operating properly in that hidden space.  You Real Estate Representative will usually ensure all parts of the home will be accessible for your inspection.   The home inspector will note any areas that were inaccessible and as the home buyer you can make arrangements to have that area inspected prior to closing the deal.

Home inspectors are not experts in every home system but are generalists trained to recognize evidence of potential problems in the different home systems and their major components. Inspectors need to know when a problem is serious enough to recommend a specialist inspection. Recommendations are often made for a qualified contractor, such as a plumber or electrician, and sometimes for a structural engineer.

Should I Attend the Home Inspection?

Yes.  You should definitely attend the Home Inspection and follow the inspector around for the complete inspection.  This is a great opportunity to learn about your new home and there is nothing like “First Hand Experience” to make that information stick.  This is also the time where you can ask questions about any of the items uncovered by the inspection.   Although all items will be listed in the report this is an opportunity to “Pick the Brain” of your inspector and obtain his thoughts and impressions of your homes systems, fixtures and finishes.

Also understanding the condition of your homes systems and structure will give you a better insight into the actual condition of the home and the upkeep provided by the seller.  Visual clues can provide valuable insight to individuals who take the time to look.  If your a first time home buyer you can find out what maintenance items you need to be aware of and when and how often they require doing.  Just about every home owner I encounter will always ask, “what is the main item that needs to be repaired right away?”  This is where your inspector can guide you in setting repair priorities and goals.

Home Inspection Red Flags

Every one has a different opinion about every topic you can think of.   Defects found during a Home Inspection are no different, it is all dependent on preconceptions and knowledge of the problem.  Some buyers already have established items that will cause them to cancel a real estate purchase.   Here are some of the common items which I have seen cause clients to back out of purchase:

Aluminum Wiring

Although still legal to install in a home if you want, Aluminum Wiring has some overheating characteristics which will cause many purchasers to pass on purchasing property.   Aluminum is prone to oxidization which can lead to arcing creating heat and possible fire.  Many home insurance companies will not issue an insurance policy if any aluminum wiring is installed in the home.

Galvanized Plumbing

Galvanized pluming was used in 1940’s and 1950’s and is well past its predictable service life of 50 years.  Galvanized plumbing corrodes from the inside and is difficult to determine actual condition of pipe.  Replacing plumbing in a two storey home can be very expensive and may  require extensive renovations.  Once again this is another item that insurance companies may not issue a home policy if present in the home.

Knob and Tube Wiring

This wiring type is almost always 80 to 100 years old which could be a safety and fire hazard.  Most home owners and insurance companies are not interested in buying or insuring a home with Knob and Tube wiring.  Many times when inspecting Century Homes I find that all the visible and easy accessible knob and tube has been removed but in hard to access areas such as attics there are still live knob and tube circuits.


The two most common areas where asbestos is found is; in the attic and on your heating ducts.   Vermiculite insulation can contain asbestos or not.  They only way to determine if the vermiculite contains asbestos is to send a sample to Certified Laboratory for testing.  I currently am only finding that about 30% of vermiculite tested actually has asbestos.   Asbestos was a common form of insulation  used on heating ducts.  Often when inspecting Century Homes I find that all the visible asbestos has been removed but often the heating ducts leading up to 2nd floor will still be encased with asbestos.  Do to cost of removing ducts between floors etc most home buyers will walk away from property.

Basement Flooding

If there are any signs that the homes basement has water problems and signs of flooding many people will not even bother continuing the home inspection.   With changing climate and severe flooding issues some areas are encountering this has become more important than ever.   I always advise my clients to walk away from any low lying property with obvious signs of flooding.  Also insurance companies may not insure a home with a history of claims due to flooding.