What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a comprehensive visual examination of the home’s overall structure, major systems and components. A trained and qualified HIA home inspector will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another. Components that are not performing properly should be identified, as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe.
The purpose of the home inspection is to provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection. Consumer Protection BC ‘s website states: A home inspection is an educational process which is designed to reduce a consumer’s risk when buying a home, and is not a guarantee or a warranty on a property.
When do I need a home inspection?
Are you buying a home? A pre-purchase home inspection can provide you with the information you need to know about the condition of the house you plan to purchase. More information equals an informed purchase decision, which equals fewer surprises. Minimize the risk to your investment. No one wants to face serious, unexpected costs shortly after a purchase.
Considering a renovation? A home inspection can help homeowners prioritize repairs and maintenance. A pre-renovation inspection equals money spent in the right places.
Selling a home? Show prospective purchasers that every effort has been made to disclose the condition of the home. A listing inspection can equal a faster sale.
Gain an understanding of the systems in your home, their operation, and required maintenance. Preventative maintenance equals fewer headaches later.
How much will my inspection cost?
The cost will depend on the square footage of the building and travel distance. The inspection and preparation of your final report (a legal document) will run from $375 and up (on average inspections typically cost around $500).
Should I attend a home inspection?
It is not necessary for you to be present at an inspection, but it is recommended that potential home buyers accompany the inspector for a final walk-through. This can be a valuable learning experience. You can take this opportunity to get more familiar with your new home, and to note where adjustments might be needed. More importantly, you can ask your home inspector questions on the spot. At a minimum, the inspector should point out to you any concerns they have after the inspection.
How long does a home inspection take?
Most home inspections take between 3 to 5 hours. A typical home inspection has numerous elements. There is the site visit and inspection itself, often a verbal review with the client, and there is a required written report to be prepared and given to the client.
Depending on the size, age and condition of the house, timelines can vary significantly. It is critical that the inspector has ready access to all areas and/or systems. If certain areas are inaccessible, the client may need to reschedule and pay for a return visit to the site.
What you should know about Vermiculite/Asbestos
In most BC homes built prior to 1990, the presence of some building materials with asbestos is almost always present. It was commonly used in office buildings, public buildings and schools. It insulated hot water heating systems and was put into walls and ceilings as insulation against fire and sound. It has also been found in many products around the house: clapboard; shingles and felt for roofing; exterior siding; pipe covering; compounds and cement; textured and latex paints; acoustical ceiling tiles and plaster; vinyl floor tiles; and appliance wiring to name a few.
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) cautions: “To avoid health risks through prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres, proper precautions must be taken when repairs or renovations disturb asbestos-containing materials, such as: disturbing loose-fill vermiculite insulation which may contain asbestos; removing deteriorating roofing shingles and siding containing asbestos; ripping away old asbestos insulation from around a hot water tank; sanding or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles; breaking apart acoustical ceiling tiles containing asbestos; sanding or scraping older water-based asbestos coatings such as roofing compounds, spackling, sealants, paint, putty, caulking or drywall….” Safe practices for handling asbestos can be found at www.worksafebc.com.
Health Canada – 2015 information on asbestos
What you should know about Polybutylene piping (Poly-B)
Poly B, also referred to as Polybutylene, is a flexible grey pipe used in hot water systems and residential plumbing. It was manufactured in between the years of 1978 and 1998 because of its flexibility, low cost, and ease of installation. It is estimated that in Canada alone there are over 700,000 homes that had this piping installed prior to it being discontinued.
Poly B was the first plastic plumbing pipe manufactured to be used as an alternative to a more expensive copper piping. The fact that is was inexpensive and easy to install made it very appealing to plumbers and contractors throughout the US and Canada. Although there has been a lot of controversy over the use of poly b, these water systems have acted without failure in many homes for extended periods of times.
Although largely driven by problems resulting in court actions in the US, some BC insurance companies have been known to offer coverage of Poly B with verification of copper fittings only, and on occasion will deny coverage of any Poly B piping.
What you should know about aluminum wiring
If incorrectly installed, aluminum wiring is both a safety hazard and an insurance issue.
While copper is known to have better conductivity, over 450,000 homes in Canada are estimated to have aluminum wiring. In some homes, both copper and aluminum conductors are installed. Most home owners have no issues with aluminum wiring, but when incorrect receptacles or conductors are installed, it becomes a safety hazard.
Verifying aluminum wiring is done by looking at the electrical wiring, either between the open floor joists, in the basement, up in the attic, or at the service panel. If the wiring is aluminum and manufactured before May 1977, the outer covering of the cable will be marked, at least every 12 inches, with the word ALUMINUM, or with an abbreviation, ALUM, or AL. If the cable was manufactured after May 1977, the marking may be either ALUMINUM ACM, ALUM ACM, or AL ACM.
What you should know about buried oil tanks
Any house built prior to 1970 has a very high probability of a buried oil tank. This is an environmental concern and may affect both your insurance and mortgage.
Residential heating oil storage tanks have been installed and used in Canada for over 60 years. There are two types: aboveground tanks (typically found in basements or outside of a home) and underground tanks (buried). Many of these storage tanks are now abandoned or unused, as alternative heating sources – such as natural gas, propane, and electricity – have become available.
Underground storage tanks are a concern because they are a potential source of contamination of soil and groundwater. They also pose a fire and explosion hazard under certain conditions. For information on buried oil tanks and your responsibilities visit this BC Government link.
*Courtesy of Home Inspection Association of BC
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