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Home inspection

So you've found your dream home, but is it the little bit of real estate paradise that you really think it is? Or is it a money pit that will just keep on swallowing your hard earned cash with one major problem after the next.

While a home may look perfect on the outside, a new lick of paint may be hiding all sorts of problems, from a leaky roof to a cracked basement. A home inspection before you make the final commitment to purchase your new property will make sure that your home is solid and secure inside and out.

Costs vary according to the size, age and location of the property, your realtor can also usually recommend certified home inspectors to use, or can organise the home inspection for you. However you should, for your own information, attend the home inspection yourself then you can also benefit from the inspectors verbal comments as well as their written report.

A home inspection will determine structural and mechanical soundness, identify problems that need attention or will become issues in the very near future, and give estimates for problems identified. You will also be given a fairly comprehensive report by the inspector which covers the items identified, and some recommendations for solving the problems. The cost of a home inspection is minor compared to the potential cost of a major problem that you missed because you didn't have an inspection.

Things in particular that may/will indicate money is required to fix (though not exhaustive by any means):

  • Is the general upkeep of the property good? If you can see small things that need attention then it's a fair bet that bigger issues haven't been taken care of either.
  • Is there any water damage? Look at the ceilings and drywall for any stains or bulging.
  • Is the basement clean and dry? Or dank and mouldy smelling? Cracked foundations or basements are an expensive problem to fix.
  • Are the floors spongy? Soft, springy sections, squeaky areas or uneven sections can indicate that you will have some expensive flooring repairs to make.
  • Does everything work? Toilets flush, sewage grinder pumps work, taps turn on and off without leaking, inslab heating operating, furnace working, heating operational, major appliances in working order.
  • Windows and doors. Check they fit snugly and don't stick on opening or closing. Check for leaks.
  • Is the foundation showing? Can you see any deep cracks or other signs of damage or deterioration or soggy areas around the foundation.

A typical home inspection report will cover:

  • Report overview
  • Structure
  • Roofing
  • Exterior
  • Electrical
  • Heating
  • Insulation/ventilation
  • Plumbing
  • Interior
  • Appliances
  • Fireplaces/wood stoves
  • Maintenance advice
  • Home security checklist
  • Fire prevention checklist
  • Information about carbon monoxide
  • Standards of practice
  • Life cycles
  • Typical home improvement costs

If the home inspection does flag up issues then you can renegotiate the conditional offer you have made, based on how much the potential repairs may cost, or you can of course decide to take them on the chin rather than re-enter contract negotiations.

A home inspection will give you peace of mind when buying real estate and shouldn't be neglected to "save money" or because you "think it all looks okay".