Home inspections probably aren’t the most exciting thing to talk about unless you’re actively looking to buy a home. As an agent working in the Oxford, Norfolk, and Elgin Counties, I naturally come across a lot of older farmhouses, century homes, and rural properties. That means older construction styles and materials, outdated electrical work, stone foundations, well and septic systems, and original wood-burning fireplaces.
Encountering these types of things on a daily basis has definitely made me biased towards recommending home inspections, but there are things you can look for yourself that will give you a good idea of whether or not you should get one completed. Home sellers should also consider these points, as these are the things that a lot of prospective buyers will have their eyes peeled for, so remedying them before putting your home up for sale could put you at an advantage!
1) The Importance of Inspections and How They Work:
A home inspection is one of the most common conditions to go into an offer on a home. They usually come up more with older homes, but there aren’t any rules stopping you from completing one on a newer home. That being said, when you’re competing against other buyers for a property and it is a newer home, including this condition could make your offer seem less desirable.
Home inspections will typically run you about $300.00 to $600.00 as the buyer. When including it in your offer, you will also specify a length of time in which you will have the inspection completed by, as well as have made a decision on whether or not the results of the home inspection are a deal-breaker for you.
*Quick Tip: If the seller says that they have already had an inspection completed on their home for you to use for free, have your agent look into who completed the inspection and get in contact with them. The sellers could have gone with the cheapest option and not had it completed to your satisfaction.
2) Inspection Warning Signs:
Look at the type and condition of the foundation. These days, poured concrete foundations are the industry standard, but older homes may have a stone foundation that is more prone to water leaks and shifting over time. Look for any damage, water lines, or cracks from the outside of the home.
Look for any signs of sitting water or water lines on both the interior and exterior of the property. These are most common along the foundation, in the basement, or in bathrooms. The ceilings in bathrooms and kitchens can begin to develop water spots from steam rising over time, but it’s important to find out if those spots are actually coming from a pipe above the ceiling. Also, if it is an older roof on the home that is in need of repair, then there is a chance that water has gotten through to the wood underneath the shingles.
This involves any environmental concerns that could affect the structure of a building due to its geographic location. A common example of this is if a home is located within a flood plain. Flood plains are areas that are known to collect with water and leave the ground around properties either saturated with water or flooded altogether. Your agent should be able to tell you if a property you’re interested in is located within a flood plain area.
These things are a bit harder to look for without some experience, but there are still some easy things you can find out. First, check to see if the home you’re looking at operates on a typical circuit breaker panel with rows of switches. The older alternatives to circuit breakers will be a fuse box or knob and tube wiring, which can both cause concerns with your insurance company when you go to get home insurance. If the property does operate on a circuit breaker panel, take a look at the main switch for the panel and see what number is printed on it. As a rule of thumb for standard homes, you want to make sure that the home is operating on 100amps of service or higher, especially if you have plans of running electricity to a detached shop on the property in the future.
Septic and Well Systems
This is another one that can be hard to look for unless you have some experience. These days, it is common to go by the seller’s word on the water quantity, quality, and pressure being delivered to the home. Typically, you would have to hire an inspector that specifically deals with these systems to take a look, but if you’re simply concerned about the quality of the water, a water sample test condition can be used instead of an inspection condition.
3) Picking a Home Inspector:
Finally, we have to discuss how to pick a home inspector. Your agent should have some recommendations on a high-quality home inspector that they have used in the past, but feel free to do your own research as well.
The home inspection industry is somewhat unregulated, so you want to do your own research to make sure that the person you are having inspect the property has a high level of knowledge in the construction industry and keeps up to date on building practices.
Picking a higher-priced, high caliber inspector will ensure your peace of mind, and will most likely save you in repair costs down the road anyways compared to a cheaper inspector.
Remember not to just have fun and imagine your belongings in a property you’re viewing, but also look for some of the small things I outlined in this article, as it could be a massive help in deciding between homes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Patrick MacDougall and I am a licensed REALTOR® based out of Tillsonburg, Ontario. I service the Oxford, Norfolk, and Elgin County areas and work every day to bring as much value to others as I possibly can.