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Top Mistakes to Avoid with Home Inspections

Blog Issue #: 

3

#1. Not Choosing the Right Inspection

The Standard of Practice

There are many different profit and non-profit home inspector associations, each with widely differing standards of practice. Your best assurance of a comprehensive and reliable report is to choose an inspector providing services compliant with the Canadian Standards Association standard for home inspections. The non-profit Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) has adopted this as the new Standard of Practice for all members.

1 hour inspections and on site reports are not equivalent to 1/2 day inspections and detailed custom illustrated reports.

Insist on a CAN/CSA-A770-16 home inspection.

The Type of Inspection

There are several types of inspections involving houses and it is important to know what to look for. These range from component inspections, to limited scope inspections, and finally whole house inspections. Component inspections generally focus on a single building component, such as a roof or foundation; or building service, such as the plumbing or electrical systems. Limited scope inspections are based on specific needs. For example, a 4-point inspection generally covers high frequency insurance claims, such as roof and plumbing leaks, or life-safety risks such as wood burning chimneys. Another type of report is a new home warranty inspection. This is typically used by home owners making a final check before expiration of coverage, or seeking a professional opinion when a claim is disputed. Whole house inspections generally cover the main building, but may also cover accessory buildings (e.g. a detached garage) and other features like fences and retaining walls. These whole home and property inspections are the focus of this article.

For the purpose of buying or selling a property, a full house inspection, including accessory buildings with connected services, is the best option. Sometimes home buyers will focus on specific concerns they may relate to past experiences, such as a leaky roof or expensive electrical panel upgrade. Qualified inspectors look for critical defects a casual observer would like not be aware of, let alone consider a special concern worth addressing with a component inspection.

A case in point: While performing a roof component inspection, it was observed from the attic that the heat recovery ventilation system (HRV) was connected to the garage. This subtle problem created a serious carbon monoxide poisoning risk: a clear odorless gas causing loss of consciousness, and death. Fortunately our roof inspections include the underside of the roof and the inspector reported the discovery.

#2. Not Insisting On a Qualified Inspector

Buyers and sellers should be aware that all home inspectors are not equal. Just as there are many different standards of practice for home inspections, as there are many profit and non-profit organizations accepting members and certifying home inspectors--each with widely differing standards of acceptance. It is important to know what to look for when it is time to hire an inspector.

Some "home inspectors" have no education or certification; are not members of a reputable home inspection association; and do not carry insurance.

For example, compare the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) to another international association:

Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) Other International Organizations
Membership
  1. Meets all criteria established by the Certification Board for previous education, training, and experience.
  2. Submits proof of Errors & Omissions insurance.

 

  1. Monthly fee with no contract that may be canceled at any time.
Certification

Candidates

  1. Pass the National Home Inspector Examination under supervision of an acceptable proctor (administered by Memorial University of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador).
  2. Complete five mentored inspections under the guidance of a Registered Home Inspector (RHI).
  3. Successfully complete a Test Inspection with Peer Review (TIPR).
  4. Satisfy any other qualification criteria established by the Certification Board.

Registered Home Inspector

  1. Obtain Candidate status.
  2. Complete the Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) SITE Basic Inspection course.
  3. Complete 250 fee-paid inspections.
  4. Provided written reports verified as having met quality standards.
  5. Completed a Test Inspection with Peer Review (TIPR) in the preceding 5-year period.
  6. Be in good standing with the association.
  1. Pass an online exam which may be taken an unlimited number of times.
  2. Complete two online courses.
  3. Perform at least one fee-paid inspection.
  4. Sign an affidavit.

Insist on a CAHPI member for your home inspection.

#3. Not Researching Your Own Inspector

It is not enough to simply take whatever person is suggested without doing your own checks. Following the advice is #1 and #2 is a great start, however be sure to verify these facts and ask any additional questions that are relevant to your specific requirements. Here is a list of what to look for when hiring a home inspector:

  • What is their educational background?
  • What certifications do they poses?
  • What training have they completed?
  • How many years have they been doing inspections?
  • How many home inspections have they done?
  • What work experience do they have prior to becoming a home inspector?
  • Does the inspector have good reviews?

Insist on an inspector with formal education and training, possessing sufficient experience, and committed to continuing education.

#4. Waiting Too Long to Find a Home Inspector

Home inspectors are often very busy. You may find yourself unable to find a qualified home inspector available before the deadline in your offer. If an inspection were to turn up an unacceptable condition, the remaining time to conduct repairs is very limited, and it may not be possible to re-inspect.

Building a relationship with an inspector long before you find your dream home has benefits. For starters, they may be able to provide some basic advice while you evaluate multiple properties during your house hunting stage. Wouldn't it be great if you could send a photo to your preferred inspector and ask for the initial opinion before you decide to settle or move on? Say hi.

Don't waste time.

#5. Not Closely Reading the Inspection Report

Your inspection report can be a long document. Typical reports range from 20-100 pages (our average report is 70-90 pages) and contain a lot of information. A good inspector will identify a defect, explain the significance, and recommend an action to be taken for every deficiency. They may highlight some deficiencies as being particularly significant, or unusual, and include them in a summary of findings. However, what an inspector deems as requiring additional attention may differ from your own, and this may affect your decisions to purchase, renovate, repair, or further investigate.

Leave no page unturned.

#6. Not Meeting the Inspector During the Inspection

A good inspector will allow clients to attend an inspection. Likewise, an inspector that refuses to meet clients, even at the end of an inspection, is cause for concern and to further investigate the inspector.

Following along for an inspection has many benefits. Most importantly, provides an opportunity to see things in person. Even the best reports can leave some unanswered questions, or have difficult to understand topics. In the presence of your inspector, it is possible to view the same condition from many angles, and discuss it at length, until you arrive at a comfortable level of understanding. Secondly, attending the inspection is a great learning opportunity. Your inspector should have a wealth of knowledge and be able to explain many questions you may have that would not be covered in the scope of a home inspection.

Some inspectors prefer to start an inspection in advance. This is a good opportunity to make an initial assessment and remain concentrated on inspecting. We find this provides the most efficient use of the clients time, provides all the benefits of attending the inspection, and allows the inspector to provide the best possible service.

Meet your inspector.

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