The cost of having a professional home inspection is very small
when you compare it to the cost of your investment in the property.
Pre-Purchase (Resale) Home Inspections
A resale home is a risky investment without the assistance of a professional home inspection. Be cautious of any real estate deal where you are advised that waiting for a home inspection will probably cost you the deal. This sometimes is the case in a hot real estate market, however it is often a high-pressure tactic used to sell a property that may not fair well during a professional home inspection. Our experience tells us that often during a hot real estate market, many substandard homes are put up for sale. Most of these homes have experienced a fresh look with the assistance of a bit of painting and redecorating which make them appear to be a great buy on the surface. Consumers should be made aware that these properties do exist in Ottawa and are often purchased by unsuspecting buyers only to later find that they have purchased a house full of headaches!
Resale home inspections are often key in discovering issues such as low voltage wiring, knob and tube wiring, old oil tanks (current home insurance issues), the presence of mold* and mildew (a major cause of infantile asthma according to CMHC), structural, heating, cooling and plumbing problems.
If you are moving elsewhere in Ontario or to another Province and still need a home inspector...
- Let us Help You!
No home is without problems, and after 23,000 home inspections, we've seen most of them!
Knowing the general condition a property, it's good points and it's problem areas, and approximately how much money it will take to correct the serious issues, will allow you to make an informed decision on your purchase.
New Home Pre-Delivery Inspections
As recommended by most Real Estate Lawyers. This Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI) is your last chance to discuss deficiencies with your builder prior to closing. Your Builder Representative is not likely going to point out any deficiencies with your new home and yet you will be asked to sign off with Tarion Warranty Corp.(formerly The Ontario New Home Warranty Program), that your home was received in good order.
Do you know what to look for? Can you confidently make that decision yourself? Confident enough to sign on the dotted line that all is well with your new home?
Don't be coerced into a false sense of security that Tarion Warranty will totally protect you if anything goes wrong during the first year. Ask the many new homeowners who made that mistake and are still waiting for repairs after several years! Maybe you should have a trained professional's eyes on your side to ensure that your home is "as it should be" prior to the exchange of any money on closing. Many builders will also tell you that you are better to have your private home inspector look at the property after you take possession. Expert Real Estate Lawyers generally disagree. (see article written by a top Ottawa real estate lawyer - "Top 10 things to do when you purchase a newly constructed home" and check out item #9!)
On occasion a pre-delivery inspection may reveal a serious defect with a home that could endanger the occupants health, such as improper venting of a combustion appliance such as a gas furnace. Better to find this out prior to moving in rather than suffering possible carbon monoxide poisoning later on. Two past clients of ours ended up in hospital after living in their home for 6 months with an undetected gas leak. Luckily they decided to have a home inspection prior to their one year anniversary and when we noted the gas leak and heard they had not been feeling well. We suggested that they go to the hospital. Both were assessed with carbon monoxide poisoning and are, according to the emergency doctors who admitted them, "very fortunate to still be alive". Home inspections often address health and safety concerns.
HOME INSPECTORS MUST BE PERMITTED TO PRE-DELIVERY INSPECTIONS!
It's amazing how even after several years of being in effect - this rule is still disputed by many builders. Builder Bulletin #42 from the Tarion Warranty Program issued August 2003 states that all new home owners whose homes have a possession date after Oct. 1, 2003 are entitled to bring a home inspector with them to their pre-delivery inspection with the builder. In the past many builders have flatly refused to allow home inspectors to attend this very crucial inspection with their clients. Builders can no longer say this, they MUST ALLOW A HOME INSPECTOR TO ATTEND IF THE CLIENT WISHES.
Some builders have stated that they will not permit inspectors or that either the client or the inspector may attend but not both - This is not the case and this very important Builder Bulletin clearly states on page 5:
2. Make an appointment with the purchaser well in advance to conduct a PDI at a time that is mutually convenient. Purchasers may attend in person, send a designate to conduct the PDI on their behalf or attend with their designate."
It is an owners right to have a professional home inspector accompany them in order to protect their investment. If your builder still insists it is not allowed, we suggest that you quote Builder Bulletin # 42 dated August 15, 2003 and effective Oct. 1, 2003. Should your builder still refuse to allow your inspector to attend, you may want to contact the Tarion Warranty Office and your lawyer in this regard.
We suggest that you take the time to read this important Builder Bulletin#42 completely (but especially pages 4-5) prior to closing in order that you fully understand your homeowner rights under the Tarion Warranty Program and that you fully comply with all their requirements and deadlines. Experience tells us that those homeowners who don't fully understand the Tarion process have often found their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears. You must comply with all Tarion requirements if you want the system to work for you. We strongly recommend that you visit www.tarion.com to ensure that you fully comprehend your obligations under this program. Just one example of this is the need to continually repeat all outstanding issues pertaining to your new home, each and every time you submit forms to Tarion- otherwise they may assume that all previous defects have been remedied (it's in the fine print, so make certain that you read it all!).
If you waive your right to having home inspection representation, you may encounter difficulties in trying to prove that any deficiencies existed in your home unless reported as such to the Tarion Warranty Program at the opportunities that they permit - the Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI), 30 days after delivery and at 11 months just prior to your one year anniversary date.
Having a professional Home Inspector on your side is imperative but don't just take our word for it. Check out this article:
Who's liable for house defects?
30 Day Home Inspection (Tarion)
This is the first opportunity you have to notify Tarion of any issues you discover with your new home once you move in. If you did not engage in the services of a professional home inspector during your pre-delivery process, now is an excellent opportunity to gain an accuarate list of any deficencies that your new home may have.
In most instances, the average new home owners, do not have the construction expertise required to effectively pinpoint and recognise many of the typical construction issues that we find in new homes today. Unless you are really willing to live with your home "as is" now is the time to engage in some serious professional help.
We provide all of our 30 Day clientele with a CD containing the latest copy of the Tarion Construction Performance Guidelines for 2013 (which our Inspector helped to revise). In addition there are copies of the Tarion forms as well as useful information on submitting a Tarion claim. Our inspector will go over an abreviated print copy with you during your inspection to help you pinpoint the items you need to report on your Tarion 30 day form.
1 year Home Inspection (Tarion)
Having an inspection completed within 30 days prior to the first anniversary of your new home purchase is strongly recommended by The Tarion Warranty Program. Many builders also request that you provide them with a list of deficiencies prior to the one-year anniversary.
Your builder will generally not accept a home inspection report produced by any home inspector. Why?, quite simply because the inspector is not their client - the homeowner is! Tarion Warranty have their own forms that home owners must complete.
Or inspector has served on The Tarion Advisory Committee responsible for the creation of the Third Edition of The Tarion - Construction Performance Guidelines. As a courtesy, we offer all clients with newly constructed home a CD containing a copy for their reference.
Don't fall into the trap that many homeowners do by thinking that they can save a few dollars and detect all the deficiencies themselves. Remember that Tarion's policy is "last document in" so any outstanding issues with your home, need to be relisted on your one year form. Only too often, do we hear cases where they missed something and it has not been covered by either the builder or Tarion because it did not appear in the one year report. Why risk it?
New Home 4-Phase Construction Inspections
Newer is Better... Right???
Well this may not not always be the case unfortunately...
Just because you're purchasing a new home doesn't necessarily mean that it will be well built. High volume demands and a general lack of skilled labour have often made new home construction purchases somewhat of a risk. Just ask many of the new home purchasers in the Ottawa region over the past few years who are still waiting to have their problems resolved.
One of the cheapest and most reliable ways to check out a builder is often the simplest yet most overlooked practice...
Many consumers rely on sources such as the Better Business Bureau, Tarion (formerly the Ontario New Home)Warranty program or the Ontario Home Builders Association. While these sources are generally reliable, many times they don't provide the total picture. We suggest, that the cheapest and most reliable source of information on new home builders, are their former clients - the homeowners already living in the development. Go to any new development and start knocking on a few doors. Often new homeowners tell us that they NEVER would have bought from their builder, had they talked to their established neighbours FIRST! In some extreme cases, angry and frustrated homeowners have banded together to file class action suites against area builders. Homeowners will either tell you horror stories that they experienced firsthand or proudly show you around their relatively hassle free home. Take the time to inquire within the development, it may be the best investment of your time that you've ever made.
New home construction has experienced so many problems that it prompted CBC Television to run their "Home Sweet Home" series on Canada Now with Rita Celli. This series was an eye opening expose dedicated solely to the problems that many Ottawa area consumers faced during, and after construction of their new homes. Home Inspectors® President, Paul Wilson, played a large role in the creation of this series as he was CBC's home inspection technical expert throughout "Home Sweet Home" and appeared in many of the segments as well as being a member of CBC's "Experts Panel" on the subject. CBC indicated that the response to this series was overwhelming and that there are obviously a huge number of disgruntled new home owners in the Ottawa area as they had more public feedback than on any previously run Canada Now segment.
If you have not already signed a contract for your new home you will want to read this solid advice Top 10 Tips for Buying a Newly Constructed Home from prominent Ottawa Real Estate Lawyer - Chris Arnold
So how does an experienced or inexperienced home buyer know if they are getting the house that they thought that they bargained for? Well the best way is to hire a professional to advise you of your home's progress and quality issues. If allowed by the builder, you will want to have a professional inspector check and assess the construction process as it progresses.
We will inspect the following while your home is being built
1. Excavation, footings, foundation, weeping tiles, waterproofing, back filling
2. Framing, roof trusses, sheathing, shingles
3. Roughed-in plumbing, electrical, pre-wire, mechanical systems
(heating and cooling), insulation, vapour barrier
4. Warranty preoccupancy inspection (PDI)
Get More Details
Remember that once the walls of a home are up and covered with drywall, it is very difficult to determine if anything underneath is wrong. Structural concerns along with wiring, plumbing, heating, cooling and insulation issues are virtually impossible to detect after installation of the drywall. Problems in these major areas could result in homeowner headaches and frustration if only discovered after taking possession. Don't become a statistic like may other "trusting" home buyers who have found that they are living in a house of headaches. Check out what some of our past 4 phase clients say in this regard...
So what type of problems are we finding in new homes - just about everything to be frank. In our opinion, new homes may often be more problematic that resale homes.
Hard to believe - but true.
Heating and ventilation problems tend to top the list but we assure you - the list is endless.
We have experienced newly constructed homes in such bad shape that the cost of remedial action is actually greater than the cost to rebuild. There have been homes sited as unfit for habitation and others with such serious health and safety concerns that occupants were hospitalized. We have witnessed developments requiring homes to be literally "floated" on huge foam blocks to help reduce their sinking foundations. Many newer homes in Ottawa still still do not have occupancy permits years after their possession by new homeowners.
Cost - A worthwhile investment in your homes future!
The cost of this type of "progressive service" varies dependent on size and location of the home but a good rule of thumb is approximately $1.00/ sq ft. Please remember that this service generally involves 6-8 site visitations, interim reporting after each phase and final report package. This cost of this service should not be compared to a standard resale home inspection, which takes only 2-3 hours. The cost of our 4-phase Construction Service is very reasonable when you consider the time involved in the process and the size and cost of your investment.
Having a home inspected during the various stages of construction provides you with the opportunity of having problems addressed as they arise. If found during the construction process, most deficiencies are much easier to correct at that time rather than after the home is finished. Digital photography is often provided to clients as part of the service to ensure clarity in our findings.
At Home Inspectors®, we can appreciate a builders concern with the thought that home inspections may slow down the construction process or interfere with construction crews at work. On the contrary, our inspector will never interrupt or interfere with any crew on site. We go in, quietly conduct our inspection and make our notes. All of our findings are reported to you - our client.
Many builders blame insurance issues as a reason for not permittingg visitors to their construction sites. All of our staff at Home Inspectors® have completed and passed the mandatory "Construction Fall Safety" course required by builders for regular trades and site visitors.
If if you have already signed the agreement of purchase and sale and there is no written provision for site visitations by your home inspector, then you may want to discuss the possibility with your new home's site supervisor. Don't bother asking the sales staff as they really have little control over the actions of the site supervisor. If you have no luck pleading your case for home inspections during construction, you should at least ensure that you attend your Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) with a home inspector.
If you are purchasing a Condominium Unit, it is every bit as important to have it inspected the same as you would a freehold property. Many consumers are under the impression that because they are buying a condominium , they are only buying their specific unit. While this is true in principle, all condominium owners have actually bought into a condominium corporation. This corporation is responsible for the maintenance of all common elements such as roofs, windows, underground parking garages, balconies, parking lots etc. As a condominium owner, you must pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of maintenance and repair of such areas. Consumers should be concerned whether their condominium corporation has adequately maintained their complex and whether the reserve funds (monies from condo fees) are sufficient to maintain it in the future.
A professional home inspector will work as a team player with your solicitor in determining any serious deficiencies within a Condominium Corporation complex. Your solicitor should obtain a copy of your condominium's reserve fund study and will be able to assess the validity of the condo's long and short schedule for repairs and replacements. Don't just take our word on this, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - CMHC has a great Condominium Buyers Guide available for viewing online. Check out Page 22 of the booklet which is page 27 of the viewer - How to determine the Physical Condition of a Condominium.
A Homeowner's Inspection may reassure you about any deficiencies of concern to you in your present home. It will provide you with the information you will need to determine what remedial action, if any, is required, and the cost involved. You will be in a better position to determine what course of action to take. Many homeowners consult with professional home inspectors prior to considering a large renovation project. Others ask use to provide our opinion on the quality of work performed, prior to paying a contractors fees.
Maintenance inspections make a lot of sense for those homeowners who are not inclined or have neglected to assess their regular home maintenance requirements on an annual basis. We can easlily offer suggests for urgent issues and assist you in priortizing the rest of the work suggested. Keeping abreast of regular home maintence is a good way to protect your investment. and ensure it retains it's value.
A pre-Listing Inspection prevents unpleasant surprises for homeowners who are planning to sell their home. A satisfactory Inspection Report makes your home more attractive to buyers and distinguishes your home from similar properties for sale. Since most buyers today have their own inspections conducted, your upfront knowledge about the condition of your home will help prevent low-ball offers, collapsed sales or renegotiation to the selling price based on deficiencies found as a result of a later inspection.
If deficiencies are found as a result of your Pre-Listing Inspection, your upfront knowledge will allow you time to either make the repairs, or price the home accordingly given the work required.
Have you considered Home Staging?
If you are planning on selling your home, you may benefit greatly by enlisting the services of a Home Stager. Many homes that have been professionally staged appear sterile and uninviting. A good home stager will assist you in decluttering techniques and provide you with ideas to make your home look warm and welcoming. If you get an opportunity, we strongly suggest that you read a great new book authored by Kanata Home Stager - Susan V. Phillips. A few years back, we were honoured when Susan asked us to not only critique her newest undertaking of writing a book, but also asked for our input to add to it. Susan is the owner of "Spotlight on Decor" and we enjoyed her new book "The Seductive Power of Home Staging" so much, that we wrote the foreword for it. Susan offers regular courses as well on staging your home. Her approach to the subject is very refreshing and produces excellent results.
Renovation/Construction Deficiency Inspections and Litigation Disputes
Given the current housing boom and extremely hot real estate market, more and more homeowners are electing to renovate their current property rather than sell and repurchase. Most real estate agents will tell you that the best rooms to update are kitchens and bathrooms. This is often a good solution to outdated housing or shortage of space, however, the result may not always be the one desired by the homeowner, nor the process, a pleasant experience.
Many so-called renovators, are not qualified professionals. Any renovation job should have a contract indicating the type and quality of materials used and the process. CMHC has two great links for homeowners who want to renovate their homes.
Check out Hiring a Contractor and A Sample Renovation Contract - While you may be tempted to offer a contractor cash in lieu of a more reasonable price for the work, it may end up costing you triple if there is no contract and the deal goes sour. Additional information on this subject is available on our "Renovations - Get it in Writing" page.
Sometimes homeowners may find themselves the recipients of substandard materials or craftsmanship. Often the builder/renovator may not be willing to resolve the issue by taking the required remedial action. Should you find yourself in this sort of predicament, we suggest that may wish to consult with your lawyer to see what rights and options you may have. Your lawyer may suggest that you have an unbiased and professional opinion of the work or materials that may be in question. A professional home inspector will be able to assist you in this regard. Our inspector Paul Wilson, has provided numerous reports and testimonies in court as an expert witness. His expertise and experience make him a very credible and convincing person to have working with your legal team.
Hire Home Inspectors® to Protect Your Investment
Call us today at (613)860-0700