Is it really necessary to get a home inspection?
The purchase of a home is one of the biggest investments someone can make during their lifetime. Finding the perfect home can be a challenge, there are many things to consider. A typical Toronto home buyer will weigh many factors such as price, location, space, recreation, property taxes and many other factors.
One of the most important steps in the purchase of a house is the home inspection. Real estate transactions hinge every day on the outcome of a home inspection. Imagine the sinking feeling of finding out your home inspection missed some important and costly issues. This is the scenario facing Alyssa Hanson.
Hanson did what every other prospective home buyer does. She hired professionals to ensure her new home was as it seemed. The home passed the septic tank inspection, the fireplace and furnace were safe for use and the home inspector she hired gave her dream home a passing grade. The purchase soon followed.
The 2,000 sq ft Ottawa home was perfect for Hanson. It even featured a terrific view of the scenic Rideau River. Unfortunately, things changed quickly for Hanson once water started seeping into her basement, only one month after closing the deal on the house.
Upon discovering the water she called contractors to inspect the damage. At least six different contractors all said the same thing; they were shocked that her home inspector did not discover the damage when conducting the inspection.
“Every single one of them said, ‘How did your house inspector not catch the fact that there is water in the basement?” stated Hanson.
“Obviously the house inspector can’t open up a wall and look, but there is a spot where it was unfinished, and it was very obvious to everyone that came in that there was water coming in, in that unfinished area.”
The evidence was there. Rust on support beams and rotted carpet tracking, all clear signs of previous water damage. It’s estimated that the water damage to Hanson’s home will cost her around $12,000 to repair. That’s a heavy expense for anyone, especially for someone who recently spent her savings on a mortgage down-payment.
A home inspection is an important factor in purchasing a house. Buyers trust professional home inspectors to ensure that they are buying a damage-free house. When this trust is violated they can be faced with a situation resembling Hanson’s.
Here’s the scary reality; anyone in Ontario can call themselves a professional home inspector. Think about it, protecting the largest investment in your life can fall in the hands of someone with little or no professional training or experience. There’s some good news, the Ontario Government is currently in the process of creating regulations for home inspectors. The conversation began in 2013 and has recently gained some traction. A panel of industry experts has been assembled to draft a report on the subject.
It’s not surprising that the panel provided many suggestions including requiring home inspectors to write an exam and have structured field testing in order to be licensed. The panel’s goal is to create single and unified standard for home inspections across the province.
“There is a very significant risk that a consumer can hire a home inspector who does not have adequate education, training or experience to do the job properly,” says Graham Clarke, a member of the panel and the president of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors.
“In the absence of any regulation, anybody can sound like they are eminently qualified to do the job, and they very often aren’t.”
Currently, British Columbia and Alberta are the only two provinces to regulate home inspectors and the BC government is currently in the process of possibly adding more regulations to the industry for 2017.
In addition to knowing that Ontario’s home inspection industry is unregulated, there are some important things you can do to ensure an accurate home inspection:
- Use the Internet and research a home inspector’s background and online reviews. Start by simply searching their name on Google.
- Ask around for good home inspectors. There are a lot of homes sold in Greater Toronto Area. It’s likely that you have a family member or friend who had a positive experience with a home inspector.
- Many reputable home inspectors have insurance to protect their clients against missed issues. This insurance could save you a lot of money if anything were to happen. There’s nothing wrong with asking to see your inspector’s proof of insurance.
- Even the best home inspectors have limitations. Remember, they can’t see through walls and underneath floors. It’s possible that past damages or structural issues could be missed.
Home inspections happen daily. It’s important that home buyers have all of the information. A sloppy home inspection can lead to substantial repair costs, such as those facing Alyssa Hanson. Our team of trained mortgage professionals have helped a lot of Toronto and area residents through the home buying process. Please feel free to contact us with any question you have about home inspections.