Choosing the right building inspector?
The big day has arrived, you have finally found the house of your dreams! Buying it on a whim could be a very serious mistake. Think about it, it's one of the most important investments of your life. But whom should I trust to inspect my future property? Should you choose the inspector recommended by your real estate broker?
What are the criteria of a good inspector?
First, do not be fooled by the price. There will always be home inspectors at a discount. The price should be one of the last factors retained for decision making regarding the choice of the inspector. Tell yourself that on a purchase of several hundred thousand dollars, you want every detail to be meticulously checked. Saving 100$ when you discover a major problem a few years later, that a meticulous and experienced inspector, taking all the necessary time, would not have missed, initially, is surely not a boon.
Choosing the right building inspector?
It is better to do your research before you even make your purchase offer. Building inspectors referred by your real estate broker (make sure he or she refers you to more than one, as their code of ethics requires it) could be very good, but does not prevent that there is a possible conflict of interest. When the last person likely to put a stop to the sale is recommended by the person who has the mandate to sell or buy the house, the situation is not ideal. On the other hand, the delays are so short, following an offer of purchase, that brokers often have no choice but to give you references in order to speed up the process.
A qualified building inspector and member of a recognized association
Check if the inspector has a training or diploma in building inspection and is part of a recognized association, such as the Association des inspecteurs en bâtiments du Québec (AIBQ). Is there ongoing training to keep up to date? Does he have errors and omissions insurance?
To be even more confident, you could choose an inspector with experience in the construction industry. Training is essential, but the experience is as important, if not more so.
Has the ability to explain complex issues into simple terms
When making the phone call, ask questions. Does the building inspector take the time to answer you in a language that is understandable to you? It is important for the inspector to be familiar with construction terms, but he or she must also be able to explain the various components and issues during the inspection.
Ask for an inspection report example
The inspection report is as important, if not more so, than the inspection itself. This legal document protects you in case of discovery of hidden defects in the future.
The inspection report is used to negotiate the purchase price, but also outlines the important issues, the corrections to be made over time and is therefore a valuable maintenance guide to follow religiously to maximize your investment. Is the report easy to follow? Pictures follow the findings to understand the extent of these? Is the report personalized to the inspected building or is it filled with general advice or warnings that can be attributed to any building?
Watch out for instant reports
Many appreciate having the inspection report immediately after the inspection and see it as a guarantee of professionalism. On the other hand, for the same price, would it not be more advantageous to know that the building inspector spends many hours preparing the inspection report, while reviewing each of the hundreds of pictures taken during the inspection? You will therefore have a much more complete and personalized inspection report than a report submitted onsite, immediately after the inspection.
Do not hesitate to ask for an inspection report example. A good home inspector is proud of his report quality and will be happy to provide you with an example.
How much can a building inspection cost?
Several criteria can influence the price of an inspection :
- Age and type of building
- The size of the house
- Presence or absence of a crawl space
For a single-family home, one can expect 600$ + txs and 350$ +txs for a condominium.
Thermography in pre-purchase inspection
An increasingly common request when making appointments: Do you do infrared thermography?
Thermography is a very interesting analytical tool when applied under the right conditions. During a pre-purchase inspection, it is impossible to properly perform a complete thermographic analysis. One of the important factors to consider is the temperature difference. According to the Government of Canada, temperature changes of 20ºC or more make this work possible six to eight hours after sunset, which is not possible during a pre-purchase inspection.
In addition, it is necessary to be able to read the results adequately by having followed, beforehand, a minimum level 1 training and ideally a level 2. The inspectors certified in thermography keep this analysis tool for expertise and operate in optimal conditions, which pre-purchase does not offer.
Some will do a thermal sweep but only walls, ceilings and interior floors. On the other hand, it is necessary to use a suitable apparatus (eg Flir E8 and more) and especially to have a lot of experience to analyze the images because there is a lot of possibilities to see false positives. This unit does not see through walls and cannot be used properly on reflective materials such as ceramic in showers for example.
In summary, how to recognize a good inspector :
- A qualified building inspector and member of a recognized association
- An inspector with experience in the field of construction
- Offers a complete personalized inspection report. He spends a minimum of 3 hours (often a lot more) writing this one by reviewing the hundreds of pictures taken during the inspection.
- The inspection lasts between 2 and 3 hours or more.
- He verifies the Seller's Declaration and any other available documents
- He summarizes and comments throughout the inspection and answers your questions
- He questions the seller about the work done and documentation available
- The inspector is available to answer your questions at the end of the inspection as well as after submitting the inspection report.
The profession of building inspector is still not a recognized profession in Quebec, hence the importance of doing your research well.