A keen sense of smell will tell you when there’s mold in the attic says inspector Tony Braid.

Avoid unexpected expenses buying or selling

Old school tools of the trade still best indicators

Home owners, buyers and even sellers all benefit from a home inspection.

An inspection can alert any of the above to unexpected expenses whether purchasing, or selling a home.

“Houses have an economic lifespan. Even in Oak Bay we know many of the 1930s houses have been torn down,” said Tony Braid of All-Points Home Inspection.

“We’re looking for early symptoms, maintenance, changes that need to be made.”

What they look for depends on the age of the home, but all home inspections run on a common theme.

“If something’s wrong with the house, it’s going to start to display after a while,” said Braid.

He looks for untoward shifting, all houses shift, but how and how much is what Braid looks for.

Older homes feature only wood, which soaks up, then expels water throughout the seasons, but more modern stucco and plaster aren’t capable of that expansion and contraction.

“Even if a house is really well built, if it’s not maintained it won’t matter,” Braid said.

And every house is different regardless of age.

Braid starts with the roof, in search of “any signs of maintenance being deferred.”

Things on the roof include moss or bird damage. If there are signs of severe wear, the attic and other spaces below are next in the search for “moisture intrusion.”

“Which in this climate is the biggest ager of houses,”  Braid said.

While many modern tools are at their disposal, from thermal cameras to a simple water meter, Baird prefers the equipment nature provides, and he has honed in the last 14 years.

“What I rely on most is my eyes and sense of smell. Those are pretty good tools,” Braid said.

He also relies on a good sense of communication, keeping people in touch with what’s really going on in their home.

“You don’t want to put people off their dreams unnecessarily,” he said. “I have to tell them about damage, but have to put it in context.”

For example, early in his career, deck repair requirements chased off one set of potential homeowners, while the next week after inspecting the same home, the new potential purchaser assessed what he was saying, and opted to do his own repairs.

“It’s our job to make sure the buyer understands what he’s buying,” Braid said.  “We rarely find catastrophic events.”