Okay, so you don’t have to get a property inspection done on a home. You might know what you’re doing, or not be worried because you can fix any problems you might find later on. But if you’re buying an average house in Edmonton – it’s going to cost you over $300,000 – so what’s a few hundred bucks and a couple of hours of education? I say it’s worth a lot. Read on to find out why it’s probably a good idea to get with a home inspection.
Things You Wouldn’t See
A house has more nooks and crannies than Mount Rushmore. You aren’t going to go crawling around your new house looking for trouble – but an inspector will. House inspectors look at your house from as many angles as they can. Anywhere an inspector can fit his or her head will probably be inspected. Why is this? Well not everything in your house is easy to see, but it could still be important.
Did you ever look under the basement stairs in your home? A lot of them aren’t supported properly – that means they’re going to sag over time. I have seen some staircases that are so bad you can barely walk on them. They didn’t start out crooked, but without the right supports, they’ll fall down eventually.
Here is a staircase being supported by fence boards. Not posts – boards. Did you notice the fence boards in the photo? The inspector did. Do you know what kind of support those stairs need to stay level and sturdy for the next few decades? Probably not – but an inspector would know that, too. This isn’t a huge thing to fix, but it does need attention. It’s one thing to fall down the stairs – it’s quite another to have the stairs fall down!
Things You Wouldn’t Notice
You might look at a whole host of things when you view a property – but that doesn’t mean you will notice anything wrong. People often feel that if they’ve looked at something, that they’ve done their due diligence. That just isn’t the case. There are things that just aren’t obvious to the average homebuyer.
Here is an electrical panel with some overloaded breakers. This might look alright to the untrained eye. At first glance, I didn’t notice anything wrong with it, but there are problems here. There are rules when it comes to electrical wiring. You cannot ‘double-tap’ a breaker and you need to properly strip insulation. Can you spot the problems here?
If you didn’t notice anything wrong – that’s OK, maybe you’re not an expert – just make sure you hire one. You do not want a house fire!
Things That Would Cost You
The biggest issue with houses is that they cost a lot – and they cost a lot because they are complicated and have a lot going on inside. Every part of a house costs something to put together and every part will cost something to replace. No, that’s not printer toner – that is mold creeping through a laminate floor. Pretty ugly.
If you need to tear out your floor because there is black mold underneath, it’s going to cost you – not to mention that black mold can be a health hazard. Maybe you want to negotiate with the seller on a remedy. Maybe it means asking for money off the price of the house to pay for the repair or asking that the issue get fixed before you move in. The bottom line here is that the inspection would pay for itself pretty quick in a case like this. You can’t just spray bleach on this floor and the problem will go away. It needs to be completely redone.
And here is a wall that has mold coming through it. This means there’s water behind the wall. Where is it coming from? You can’t tell if it’s a leaking pipe, or a downspout has fallen off and water is coming through the wall.
This is another case of having to tear something out and redo it. It’s not going to be free, so it’s good to know in advance.
Not all problems are big, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth looking for. Here is an example of a simple fix:
There is a water line running through this furnace (a new furnace I might add) that has leaked and caused the body of the furnace to rust. No big deal – if you catch it and stop the leak. If you don’t catch it early you – well you see those wires under the water pipes? How would you like to short out an electrical panel in your furnace and buy a new one? Oh, you don’t want to do that!? Now you can see how the little things are important, too. It might not be an issue for months or even years, but if you don’t look for problems, you’re not going to find them… until they find you.
Some things are not OK. Like when your house is falling down.
Do you know the difference between vertical cracks in concrete and horizontal ones? Is this safe? You might notice this, you might not, but a professional can likely tell you what it would cost to repair, or whether or not it’s a big deal. This happens to be a big deal and it might not be something you want to deal with. On the other hand you might walk away from a house with a small crack in the basement thinking it’s a huge deal – and it might not be. Having a professional you can ask questions really helps.
Inspections take a few hours and cost somewhere in the range of $400 to $500 dollars for an average sized house. No, you do not need to get an inspection. Should you get one? Probably. Home inspectors are not going to find everything – they cannot tear down a basement wall to see what’s behind it, but they can recognize warning signs better than most of us. I think it’s a good idea to have your potential real estate purchase examined before you buy it. I know I feel better if a client has someone inspect the property. You might look at a house for 20 minutes when you’re looking to buy – but you might live there for 20 years! Wouldn’t it be a good idea to take some time to know the ins and outs of that particular property? I think so.
I would like to thank Leanne Michener and Laurie Borden of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections in Edmonton for sending me the example photos in this article and helping me show you what an inspector might find during an inspection.
by +Alan F Macdonald REALTOR® | Copyright © – gimme-shelter.com