Mike Holmes has become recognized as a tell it like it is renovation and inspection expert. Here are his thoughts on the home inspection process, and why it is important.
I always recommend getting a home inspection whether you are looking to buy, sell or renovate. For renovations, I recommend getting an inspection done so you can get an idea of the health of your home. If you find out you have electrical issues and you were planning on splurging on new countertops, which one do you think you should fix first? A home inspection can give you a good overview of the condition of the home and highlight any major deficiencies.
Just out of curiosity, I went on the internet to see what a homeowner might find if they were looking there for a home inspector. I found a few. I also found just about as many ads for how to become one. We all know that’s how you become a qualified professional—on the internet!!
That shouldn’t surprise anyone. The truth is, the home inspection industry in Canada is unregulated. Anyone can take a weekend course (or go on the internet) and start inspecting houses. Got a ladder, a flashlight, a clipboard, and a business card? You too can be a Home Inspector!
Do You Need A Home Inspection?
A house is the biggest investment most people ever make in their lives—and it doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee. Is your dream home purchase going to turn into a nightmare? The best way to prevent that is to have a home inspection—hire an expert to go through your home to make sure it’s safe, it’s solid, and it’s worth every penny you’re paying for it.
How Do You Hire A Home Inspector?
But what if that home inspector doesn’t know what he’s doing? What if they miss some serious—and expensive—problems that you don’t have the money to fix? The sad truth is, there’s not much you can do. There’s not much recourse if you find the home you purchased has problems that the inspector should have found—no matter how huge or expensive they might be. All you can do is an issue for the amount you paid for the inspection—a few hundred dollars.
Currently, there’s no national licensing and no federal regulations for home inspectors. The industry is ‘self-regulated’ by various provincial organizations for professional home inspectors. And, since membership in these associations is voluntary, many people—home inspectors included—feel that membership is really just a marketing effort.
Each province has a provincial association, with standards that have to be met by all members. Those standards aren’t the same across the country. And, there are several regional and national associations, not all of which have the same qualifications required to call themselves members…what’s a consumer supposed to do?
In a house purchase every step is regulated in some way by government. Everyone is licensed: the real estate brokers and agents who sell houses, the banks who lend money, the lawyers who oversee the land transfer, the insurers who cover the house, but not home inspectors. That makes no sense to me.
The bank will lend money—sometimes lots of money—for a house purchase, based on the buyer’s ability to pay it back. That house purchase might be based on an inspection by an unlicensed, unregulated individual. And that house might be a disaster waiting to happen. One that’s not worth a fraction of the money it sold for. What sense does that make?
What To Ask Before You Hire a Qualified Home Inspector?
Some buyers still think they can use the experience of their family members in place of professional home inspectors. I don’t know if Dad–even if he’s bought houses and owned houses for years–would have the expertise to identify real problems that might be hiding in the house you want to buy.
Would they know:
- If the home was ever a grow op?
- If there was ever a fire in the home?
- If there are any structural problems?
- If the plumbing pipes are galvanized or copper?
- What about knob and tube wiring?
- Did any earlier renovations compromise the structure of the home?
- Were there any building permits pulled on the house in the past for renovations—that’ll tell you if they were inspected?
Does the house you want to buy look good? Really good? Then maybe it’s a flip—and maybe those cosmetic renovations have covered up serious problems. Maybe they’ve even created some serious problems that you wouldn’t ever suspect. Would Dad know that?
Choose The Right Home Inspector
I want you to use the right home inspector—the one who’s an experienced and qualified professional. So be sure to take the time to find a good one. And when you hire a home inspector:
- Be present for your home inspection. This is your first chance to learn about your home, first hand.
- Ask questions and listen to the answers. Especially if it’s bad news. Many homebuyers don’t really want to hear the truth because they’ve already fallen in love with the house. It’s like dating—you need to listen if your best friend tells you to run. Don’t marry it.
- READ the report!! Make sure you read it thoroughly and understand everything the inspector is telling you about your house and its condition.
Questions to ask your Home Inspector:
- Can I see your license/professional credentials and proof of insurance?
- How many years of experience as a home inspector do you have? (The business card might say 25 years experience—but at what, exactly.)
- How many inspections have you personally done?
- What qualifications do you have? What kind of training do you have? Are you a member of a professional organization? What’s your background—construction? Engineering? Plumbing?
- What kind of report do you provide?
- What kind of tools do you use in your inspection?
- Can you give me an idea of what kind of repairs the house may need? (And, they’d better NOT have ‘a friend’ who can do it for you, cheap.)
- When do you do the inspection? (Let’s hope they don’t have a day job, and can only do them at night—when it’s too dark to see the roof)
- How long do your inspections take?
- Do you take pictures of the house and add them to your report?
- Can I see some references? Make sure you ask for them and check them.
This article was originally posted at https://makeitright.ca/holmes-advice/buying-selling-your-home/why-you-need-a-home-inspection/