Trish Bongard Godfrey

Home Inspections, Demystified

03 March 2015
Trish Bongard Godfrey

Home inspections are a fairly recent tool to assist Buyers and Sellers to evaluate the physical condition of a property. I highly recommend a home inspection be part of any residential property sale. Here are a few misconceptions about home inspections:

Home Inspectors are all the same. Registered Home Inspectors in Ontario are members of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, which was created as an act of Provincial Parliament in 1994. It is a self-regulating profession and members must complete qualifying exams, adhere to standards, maintain their skills, and adhere to a code of conduct, amongst other things. Most inspectors have taken a college-level program, but some Home Inspectors are also trained as professional engineers. Some work for nationally recognized companies, and some operate as independent businesses. If you are relying on a home inspection, ask about their experience, what they include in their reports, and ask for references. Experience counts.

They are only for Buyers. Both Buyers and Sellers can have home inspections. A proactive Seller will have a home inspection done before listing a property for sale so that they can deal with any issues that might concern a Buyer, and so they are not surprised during a negotiation about something that they were not previously aware of. Buyers should, in most instances, have a home inspection or walk-thru with the Seller’s Home Inspector and ask their own questions about a house. Home inspections have their limitations, and at the end of the day it is up to the Buyer to determine if a home is right for them or not. A home inspection is not a “pass or fail”. It’s an information report to help people improve a property and evaluate risk.

Home Inspections are too complicated. Well, if the inspection is a bit complicated, it is because owning a house is, too. It is important to know what you’re buying, and a Home Inspector can help alleviate concerns, answer practical questions about how a house works, and suggest fixes. A good inspection might include geo-thermal imaging as well as a visual inspection. The report usually includes photographs and an organized, easy-to-understand review of all the major house systems – electrical, plumbing, foundations, roof, eaves, appliances, windows, etc. I’ve always found it was well worth listening to the Inspector, and keeping the report on-hand. Sometimes a major issue is identified, and disclosure of this has helped both Buyers and Sellers avoid costly lawsuits down the road.

They are hard to arrange and are always during business hours. Home Inspectors in Toronto are quite accustomed to the fast pace of our real estate market. Usually, an inspection can be arranged within 24-48 hours and can be conducted on weekdays and weekends.

They cost a lot of money. In almost all circumstances, I pay for the home inspection as part of my pre-listing program for my Seller clients. I use a qualified engineer with a well-known company. The cost can range from between $400-$800 depending on the type of report requested and the size of the home.

For more information about Ontario Home Inspectors, go to