Avoid unpleasant surprises with a property inspection

October 16, 2014

Did you fall in love with the house you just visited? Even though you might think it’s perfect, here's why you shouldn't skip a home and property inspection.

It isn’t mandatory to bring in a home inspector to inspect a property you’d like to buy, but it’s strongly recommended. A professional home and property inspection may cost a few hundred dollars, depending on the size of the house, but it could save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Avoid unpleasant surprises with a property inspection

The advantages of a home and property inspection

  • A professional inspection enables you to plan for any maintenance work that will be necessary in the medium to long term.
  • You’ll find out about any urgent repairs that have to be done. This will give you some leverage when negotiating the purchase price with the seller.
  • You can stipulate a clause in the contract that makes the deal conditional on an inspection. This allows you to withdraw your offer, if necessary, without incurring financial damages.
  • It provides valuable evidence in case you discover a hidden defect within one year of purchase.

Make sure the inspection is thorough

Anyone can call themselves a building inspector. Here are a few guidelines that can help you ensure that the home and property inspection is efficient, objective and thorough.

  • Ask the inspector if he or she is protected by an "errors and omissions" insurance policy. Enquire as to whether they belong to a professional order of engineers, architects or certified appraisers.
  • Don’t ask your real estate broker to suggest an inspector. It’s best to find a completely independent and impartial inspector.
  • Make sure each element of the inspection is covered in the written report; include any things that couldn’t be checked and why that was the case.
  • The report should also include a signed statement by the seller regarding the condition of the house and any repairs made, along with supporting evidence.
  • Accompany the inspector during the evaluation.

The role of an inspector

During a home and property inspection, the inspector has the mandate to assess what is visible: load bearing beams, electrical components, signs of water infiltration and the like. The inspector isn’t obligated to move furniture or other objects, but he or she can ask the seller to do so.

Out of reach

You may opt to include a clause in the legal contract stating that a seasonal inspection needs to be done at a later date. A portion of the purchase price should be retained accordingly. An example of this would be for the inspection of a roof that couldn’t be examined because of snow accumulation.

Hidden defects

Despite a thorough home and property inspection, a hidden defect could still be discovered after the purchase. A hidden defect is a major flaw in a house that existed before the purchase, but was not visible and therefore could not be detected. Unless otherwise stipulated in the contract, the seller in such a case is held responsible for up to one year after purchase. With a certified inspection report, you’ll have hard evidence that you did your homework before you bought the property.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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