When it comes time to buy a new home – or at least a home that’s new to you – you want to do everything you can to ensure the purchase is sound.
Likely the biggest purchase an individual or family will make, prospective buyers must not only consider factors such as location, transportation, schools and whether the couch will fit, but also the physical state of the home itself.
Enter the home inspector.
A trained, experienced home inspector examines a home’s “systems” – roof, building membrane, foundation, electrical and plumbing, for example – looking for problems or potential problems, explains Oak Bay’s Martin Kent, of Fairhome Building Inspections.
“Basically we look at as much as we can see,” says Kent, who brings 10 years experience in the industry, on top of many years in home construction and renovation, and as an electrician.
For things they can’t see, like the space behind drywall and plaster, the inspector relies on state-of-the-art tools that can detect issues such as moisture. Following a comprehensive evaluation, “if we’re concerned there’s a problem going on, we recommend further study from a specialist.”
Common concerns in the older Oak Bay homes include asbestos around the pipes and in the attic, insulation and perimeter drain problems, often caused by tree roots growing into the old clay drainage tiles. Old oil tanks, including those buried underground, can also crop up as potential issues.
While the length of an inspection can vary according to the size, age and condition of the property, Kent allocates about three hours, then another hour for the post-inspection walk-through with the potential buyers, who also receive a full written report.
While inspectors are not permitted to provide quotes for how much a problem may take to address, they may provide a ballpark idea of what an issue might cost – the typical price range of removing asbestos insulation from an attic, for example.
While all home inspectors in B.C. must be licensed, home buyers should also ask a few additional questions when choosing the right inspector for their job: Do they belong to a professional organization like CAHPI, the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors? What kind of education and experience do they have? How long have they been in the industry? Are they insured (required by CAHPI)?
“I think the part I like the most [about being a home inspector] is helping people,” Kent says. Many times, “people don’t know what they’re getting into, so it’s nice to be able to tell them the good and the bad about a place. It’s also interesting. Some of these old homes are really interesting to look at. You get a sense of the history and how people lived.”
For more information about home inspections in B.C., visit www.cahpi.bc.ca.