What is a Home Inspection?
Offers to buy a home in Vancouver are always conditional to the Buyer’s due diligence, and getting a home inspection – to ensure the house is in proper working order – is one of them. This allows you, the Buyer, to have a professional investigate the home. After getting an Accepted Offer, one of the first things your Realtor does is book the inspection. You want a reputable home inspection company and hopefully one that has good knowledge of the particular building (East Vancouver has so many older buildings that you’ll be able to find an inspector who’s been through it before). All inspectors should be following the standards of practice set out by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI).
The Home inspection is done after an Accepted Offer but before the Subjects are removed, giving the Buyer a chance to understand the current state of the home and perhaps ask the Seller to perform certain repairs or agree to a drop in the selling price.
Often, especially in the busy East Vancouver Detached House Market, Buyers will have a Home Inspection done prior to offering on a property if the home is expecting to get multiple offers. The demand for East Van Houses is high right now and this is the Buyers best chance to have a subject free offer, and still have a good sense of the home they are buying. Sometimes Buyers will have to go through inspections on multiple houses before being the lucky Buyer to have the successful offer, but going through Inspections on Older East Vancouver Houses is absolutely necessary – the benefits far outweigh the costs.
What does the Home Inspector do?
The inspector will give you a professional visual examination during the home inspection. The inspector will not drill any holes or do any damage (so their report is limited to what they can see/touch/test). I always suggest that the Buyer is at the home inspection because the inspectors are a useful source of knowledge when it comes to maintaining the home, they will answer your questions, explain their findings and offer their knowledgeable opinions on repairs and future upkeep.
The inspector will review all the components of the home and building (everything from plumbing, to the electrical, to the structure) in order to determine what parts are performing, under-performing, need to be fixed or are a safety hazard. His findings will be noted in an inspection report that will give you their final assessment of the unit and building. A good inspector will mention all of the negatives, but will put the information into perspective in terms of cost to repair, time to repair and whether or not it’s typical for a similar building or house.
The main things to watch for are the age of the furnace, roof, water penetration issues and the wiring. The inspector will also look for cracks, slopes in the floors and doors that do not close properly, which all could point to potential foundation issues. East Vancouver has a lot of older houses, and houses that have been renovated (with or without permits) so the inspector is there to ensure you’re not buying a money pit needing repairs (unless of course, that was your objective).
Keep in mind that every building has problems, it’s just what the problems are and how bad they seem. Most buildings hover around an Average Grade, meaning it’s in good shape now, but will need to be maintained as it gets older (not a surprise).
What happens on Inspection Day?
For Strata buildings, the Seller’s Realtor will arrange access to the major building systems: the boiler (water heater) room, electrical room, roof, parking garage, storage lockers, elevator, elevator room, and whatever other common areas there are in the building. Access to all of these areas is not always possible, so the inspector will rely on the most recent engineer’s report that would detail the state and maintenance of these areas, so you have an idea of some of the upcoming building maintenance.
The Seller will allow access to their unit so that the home inspector can inspect everything they can in the unit. Since they won’t be drilling any holes and doing any damage, they only test what they can see (with a flashlight) and touch.
Home Inspections take at least 1 hour to perform (for a typical condo), but they usually take much longer in houses or buildings where they find issues that need further examination.
What happens after the inspection?
Deals can collapse thanks to what is found during the inspection – this is why you have the inspection clause in the first place. As the Buyer, you would have the right to back away from the offer to purchase the home if it is not in as good condition as thought when you made the offer. After reviewing the inspection report, the Buyer will ask the Seller to repair certain things that were mentioned in the inspection or will ask for a price reduction to cover upcoming maintenance issues.
Home Inspections normally cost around $500, but that is money well spent on your large investment. Some of my recommendations for Home Inspectors are from Douville & Co. and Pillar to Post. If you’re really worried about water ingress (due to previous problems or visual deficiencies) then opt to have that tested in the inspection. Spending a few hundred dollars extra now is better than the time and hassle of a necessary repair down the road.