Make sure your real estate purchase contract includes an inspection clause. Typically, contracts allow home-buyers seven or so days after signing to have the property inspected. The results of the inspection can be used to ask the seller to fix trouble spots, or to adjust the selling price to cover the coast of necessary repairs. Get references – because laws regulating the licensing of inspectors are non-existent, Certification from a professional association is often a better barometer of an inspector’s experience and skills.
Demand a thorough job – There is very little stipulating exactly what must be covered during an inspection. A thorough job should include a complete assessment of the interior and exterior of the house, from roof to foundation, as well as some analysis of the heating, plumbing and electrical systems. Some crawl spaces may be too small or too dangerous for inspectors to wriggle into; expect to be told about any parts of the house that weren’t examined. For a three-bedroom, two-bath home, a complete inspection should last at least three-four hours, minimum and cost between $400 and $500, depending on the region and size of the house and property. A good home inspector carries a toolbox that includes natural gas detectors, moisture meters, outlet testers, voltage meters and an array of measuring devices.
Get results in writing – The inspection report is an excellent gauge of just how exhaustive the work is. A complete report should be anywhere from 15 to 20 pages long, describing in layman’s terms what was observed and any problems that were uncovered.
Some inspectors include estimates of the cost of repairs – but it’s considered a conflict of interest for inspectors to solicit repair business based on their findings. Make sure that the home inspector agrees to spend up to an hour or so with you to go over the details of the inspection and answer your questions.
Hold the Inspector liable for missed problems – Inspection contracts tend to be “minimalist” documents, but they contain one critical piece of information:
The Inspector’s liability if he fails to discover an existing problem with the house or property. In many cases, liability is limited to the cost of the inspection.
Guy Ward is a Mortgage Broker in Calgary, Alberta with TMG (The Mortgage Group Alberta).