Tips for Buyers: Home Inspections

21.11.2013

Why Home Inspections are a Common Subject Clause in Contracts

When buying a new house, townhouse or condo in East Van, we always add a Home Inspection Subject Clause in the Offer to Purchase, except in very rare circumstances. For Buyers, it gives you a good idea of the state of the home and allows you to see potential and future issues from the perspective of a professional. The few hundred dollars it costs to get a home inspection can save you time, money and hassle down the road. It’s only in rare circumstances that our Buyers don’t have home inspections done and we’ll go through those situations, and more, below:

Why do I need to get a Home Inspection?

A common subject clause in offers to purchase homes is getting a home inspection done by a professional home inspector, and also being satisfied with the results. Especially in older East Van homes, there is a range of potential issues that may turn your dream house into a lot of work, or you may learn of issues that will need to be repaired in the near future. Often, you’ll also learn from the inspector some small things you can do to improve the performance and maintenance of the home. The few hours it takes to do an inspections is money well spent! Typically, you don’t have to worry about getting home inspections done until after you have secured an Accepted Offer on the home. One of the first things we’ll do once we have the signed contract is book the inspection. We have a few different inspectors that we routinely work with and trust, and so we are happy to refer them. Often for East Van condos, we’ll try and find an inspector that has done a recent inspection in the building since they’ll already have a good idea of the maintenance. All inspectors should be following the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors(CAHPI) standards of practice. If you’re interested in a very popular new listing that is expecting to get multiple offers, we often have home inspections done before you submit an offer – this way you can submit a subject free offer (which is ideal for Sellers and can help you get your offer accepted over the other offers). This isn’t usually suggested because home inspections typically cost a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time, so we don’t suggest wasting that money prior to knowing that you’ve secured the accepted offer position.

What does a Home Inspector Do?

The home inspector will come into the home (the Sellers will allow access for this purpose) and they will do a visual examination of the prospective home, on every floor and including the exterior of the home. Where possible, the home inspectors will also test the operation of components (i.e. dishwasher, showers, heating, etc.). The home inspector will look at every detail, note any deficiencies, and offer advice for repair. We highly suggest that the Buyer comes along to learn about the house through the inspector: they are a fantastic source of knowledge when it comes to the upkeep of your home, and are always willing to answer your questions, explain their findings and offer opinions. For condos, the inspector will also take a look at all common buildings components and areas since these areas form part of your “ownership” and if they need repair, you’ll have to help pay for it along with the rest of the owners. These common areas include the boiler (water heater) room, electrical room, roof, parking garage, storage lockers, elevator, elevator room, and whatever other common areas there are in the building. Access to these areas is not always possible, so the inspector may be relying on the most recent engineer’s report, their previous inspection in the building, or they just cannot comment. The inspector will review all the components of the home and building and note which are performing, underperforming, need to be fixed or are a safety hazard. These notes will be compiled in a report that will be sent to you for your review. Typically at the end of the inspection, they’ll grade the home, on a scale of “This Home is Falling Apart” to “It’s in Great Condition”. Most homes hover around Average.

Home Inspection Day:

We’ll meet the inspector at the front of the home. The Seller’s will not be around for this inspection.  The inspector will walk you through the exterior of the home or building, then we will continue the inspection inside.

Torch On Roofing System, with “Dog Houses” for ventilation. Too bad there isn’t a roof deck up here with that phenomenal view!

Torch On Roofing System, with “Dog Houses” for ventilation. Too bad there isn’t a roof deck up here with that phenomenal view!

This is not an invasive inspection, so the Inspector will be using a flashlight, rather than a drill, hammer or saw. They will not be looking in any of the walls. They will check everything from water flow, to door hinges, to fireplaces, and more. Thanks to new technology, inspectors may also offer infrared technology that can give you a deeper look into the walls to check for leaks and electrical hazards.

home_inspection_boiler

Boiler Room in an Older Condo Building. That shiny part is a new, high efficiency Boiler.

Home Inspection Details:

Inspections will last at least 2 hours, and will be longer for houses and bigger condo units. Offers for Purchase can collapse because of the result of inspections. As a prospective Buyer with an Inspection Clause in the contract, you have the right to back away from the offer to purchase the home if it is not in as good condition as thought after the inspection. Once we receive the report back from the Inspector, we’ll take a look to see what potential issues there are and how much time and money it will take to fix them. Often, the Buyer will ask the Seller to repair certain things that were mentioned in the inspection or to offer a price reduction to cover upcoming maintenance issues. The Seller is often willing to work with the Buyer since they know these issues will come up for any Buyer who does the inspection, and since working with the Buyer gets them one step closer to having a firm, official contract to sell their home.

Inspections normally cost $400 to $600, but that is money well spent on your large investment.

Some of our recommendations for Home Inspectors are from Douville & Co. and Pillar to Post.

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