A home inspection is an opportunity for you to hire an expert to walk through the home and prepare a report that outlines the home’s major components, their current condition, what needs immediate attention and what will require maintenance after you move in.
As a buyer, your home inspection report offers a deeper understanding of whether the home has been well-maintained or needs major repairs. If you’re not satisfied with the home’s current condition, you can request the seller address the repairs or give you a credit toward the cost of repairs at closing. A report can also help you prioritize repairs and improvements after you buy the home, and plan for upgrades.
Having your own home inspection checklist as a buyer can help you get the most value of your inspection report.
How to find an inspector
Licensing requirements for home inspectors vary from province to province. In British Columbia inspectors must demonstrate experience, complete training/schooling, and pass an examination to become licensed.
Your real estate agent will probably give you the names of several inspectors. You should also research inspectors on your own and solicit recommendations from your friends, family, colleagues, or future neighbors.
Hiring a home inspector
Before you hire an inspector, ask for a sample report so you can see what the inspector includes and evaluate their comments. Some reports run 100 pages or longer and include photographs. Other reports are mainly checkboxes with brief notes.
A longer report isn’t necessarily better, but be wary if a report seems confusing or vague. Ask the inspector what’s included in the inspection and what’s not. If you have specific concerns about the home, ensure those items will be addressed in your inspection.
Your home purchase contract should include an inspection contingency that gives you a specific number of days to complete an inspection. If homes in the area are selling quickly, your window might be just a few days. If the local market is slow, you could get a week or longer.
Choose an inspector early in your home-buying process so you can schedule your inspection as soon as a seller accepts your offer. Good inspectors can be in high demand, especially in the springtime when more homes are sold.
What a home inspection includes – and what not
While the scope of an inspection can vary. One thing is consistent: Inspectors are chiefly concerned with a home’s physical components. That covers a lot of systems, but it does not include everything. Components that might be left out include:
Trees and landscaping
Swimming pool equipment
Fireplace and chimney
Floors covered by carpeting
Roof or outdoor hardscape covered by snow
Mice, rats, or other rodents
Wood-destroying pests, such as termites or carpenter ants
Your home is one of the biggest, most valuable purchases you’ll ever make. Home inspections help ensure you’re making an good investment.