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When should you get a home inspection?

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Home inspections are most often conducted once an offer on a property has been made, and the offer is usually conditional upon the completion and results of this important and informative procedure. However, a third-party unbiased home inspection can be done at different times during the purchase of a house.

Pre-listing, or seller’s inspection

Some homeowners enlist the services of a home inspector before even placing a house on the market to help determine the value.  An inspection at this early stage also helps the homeowner become aware of issues that should be fixed before listing, and can provide both the seller and potential purchaser with peace of mind.  As well, this extra step could help reduce selling time, and increase asking price by alleviating some of the uncertainties about the home and increasing confidence for potential buyers. 

If you are considering purchasing a home for which the current owner has already had an inspection, the Ministry of Consumer Services, Ontario advises, “some sellers choose to have an inspection done before selling their home so they have a current inspection report to show prospective buyers. While this information can be helpful, you should have your own home inspection done prior to signing on the dotted line.”

Pre-purchase, or buyer’s inspection

Nobody likes surprises that are expensive or worse, compromise the safety of your family.  Once you buy a home, you are entirely responsible for its maintenance and upkeep, so a pre-purchase inspection could be the most important step you take in protecting yourself.  Home inspectors registered with the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors not only have a required amount of education, but also continuously learn to keep up to changes in the industry.  A typical homeowner simply does not have the training, experience or awareness of what and where to look for deficiencies and problems with the home.

A home inspector will typically examine a property’s:

  • Foundation
  • Doors and windows
  • Roof (where accessible and safe to do so)
  • Exterior walls Attics
  • Plumbing and electrical systems (where visible)
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Ceilings, walls and floors
  • Insulation (where visible)
  • Ventilation systems
  • Drainage away from buildings, slopes and natural vegetation
  • Overall assessment of structural integrity of the building(s)
  • Common areas (in the case of a condominium, or co-operative).

Check out Ministry of Consumer Services of Ontario.

What to pay…or walk away

A home inspection may produce results that impact your decision of what to pay for a house, or if you will even carry on with the sale.  If unexpected, major issues are uncovered, you may reconsider or suggest altering your offer price, based on necessary repairs required, either immediately in or in the near future.

By Paula McKee  

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