Before you buy a home, you should have it inspected by a licensed home inspector (home inspectors are required to have a license in Alberta). Whether or not you choose to have a home inspection is entirely up to you, and it's an additional cost to consider when buying a home. So why shell out the extra money? To learn as much about the home you're considering buying as possible.
When you find a home you love, and decide to make an offer, you have the option of including conditions on your offer. Conditions must be met in order for you to proceed with purchasing a property, and commonly include financing and a home inspection, among others. During negotiations, you and the seller will agree to price, dates, conditions (including the length of conditions) and other important details. You will have a deadline to complete the inspection and decide wether or not to remove your inspection condition.
The point of an inspection is to know exactly what you're buying and uncover any potential issues with the property. The inspector will do a visual inspection of the entire home including the roof, exterior, foundation, appliances, furnace and more. They will not damage the home in anyway to uncover problems, for example, they won't cut into the drywall to see what's behind, so there is always the potential that some problems won't be found. Some inspectors use sensors to test for moisture, or thermal imaging to see what's behind the walls!
How to Choose an Inspector
Your real estate agent has likely encountered dozens of inspectors, depending on how much experience they have, and can make recommendations for you. Even if you get some recommendations, you should do some homework before deciding to hire an inspector. First, check and make sure they're actually licensed, there's a list on the Inspectors Association web site. Here are some additional questions you might want to ask your inspector:
- How long have they been working as home inspectors?
- What qualifications do they have?
- What training or education do they have?
- Do they belong to an industry association?
- Can they provide references?
- What does an inspection include?
- Is the inspection strictly visual?
- Can you accompany the inspector during inspection?
- Are there re-inspections if necessary, to inspect repairs?
- Do they also do renovation work?
- Are they working on behalf of a real estate agent?
- Will a written report be provided? When?
- Will they identify current problems as well as those that are imminent?
- Do they have errors and omissions insurance and workers compensation?
- Do they have any disclaimers or limitations as part of their contract?
What Happens When the Inspector Finds Problems?
The inspector will explain any problems they find during and/or after the inspection. Every home has problems, even brand new ones (especially brand new ones in some cases!) so don't be surprised to find problems in the report. Now it's decisions time... If repairs are needed, you could ask the seller to complete the repairs prior to taking possession of the home. Keep in mind the seller will likely choose the least expensive method of repair, and not necessarily the best method; you may be better off completing the repairs yourself. In some cases, buyers negotiate (or try to negotiate) compensation for repairs. If a major problem is uncovered, you may decide not to remove your inspection condition and walk away from the deal.
Inspectors uncover problems with homes on a regular basis. In many cases problems are easily fixed, and in some cases potential disasters are avoided saving homeowners and buyers thousands of dollars.