Many inexperienced Buyers mistakenly believe they have the knowledge and expertise to know what is right or wrong with a property from a simple viewing walkthrough. These same Buyers believe they can save $500 to $1000+ by simply not having the inspection. The problem with this approach, however, is ’what you do not know can hurt you’. Below is a list of potential problems with a home that can be identified during a property inspection but are not always ascertainable by viewing:
(1). The existence of aluminum wiring (can be a fire hazard and insurance issue).
(2). The existence of less than 100 Amp electrical service (regardless of the presence of a 100 Amp panel or sub-panel).
(3). The existence of a cracked heat exchanger and / or a carbon monoxide leak in the furnace.
(4). The existence of mold (health hazard issue and can be expensive repair).
(5). The existence of water seepage or leakage.
(6). Damage to structural walls, connections, beams, columns, slabs, or large horizontal / vertical cracks or crumbling in foundations.
(7). Existence of minor or major deviations to the current Alberta Building Code (i.e. can be a concern for cases where a Buyer wants to build a basement suite or legalize an existing basement suite and obtain a City or other municipal Permit).
(8). The existence of non-obvious grading issues.
(9). The existence of roof issues with shingles, sheathing, vapour barriers, trusses, skylights, eavestroughs, downspouts, chimneys, flashings, and gutters.
(10). The existence of problems or omissions for weeping tiles and sump pumps.
(11). The existence of plumbing system issues (i.e. water supply, waste systems, piping, hot water tank, venting, etc.)
(12). The existence of issues with kitchen and laundry appliances.
(13). The existence of issues with the central heating and cooling systems (furnaces, A/C, HVAC, venting, humidifiers, etc.) or risks dealing with older types of equipment such as hot water boilers, gravity furnaces, etc.
(14). The existence of other electrical issues such as live wires, fixtures, receptacles, switches, ground wires, the need for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, etc.)
(15). The existence of attic insulation adequacy, distribution, ventilation, and fire hazard issues.
(16). The existence of issues with interior walls, ceilings, floors, and stairwells.
(17). The existence of asbestos tile or insulation that requires great care and specific hazardous procedures to safely remove or work with.
(18). The existence of issues with exterior cladding, porches, decks, stairways, windows, doors, and fencing.
(19). The existence of issues with garages, sheds, gazebos, or other separate structures.
(20). Identification of other special issues (varies depending on inspection company): well and septic tanks, sewer line, water quality, swimming pools, sprinkler systems, presence of dangerous gases, insect, animal, or termite infestation, soil strength and composition, slope stability, environmental assessments, other specifics on large scale commercial properties, etc.
In summary, whether you are a first time Buyer or an experienced Buyer buying a new or a pre-owned house, condo, acreage, or commercial property, my advice is to always hire a quality certified property inspector (along with specialists if required) to inspect for the above potential issues and provide you with peace of mind and guidance on how best to repair and regularly maintain your property. If you do not know of a good certified inspector, ask your REALTOR® to refer inspectors who are known to demonstrate competency, knowledge, thoroughness, and good customer service.
[Article written and ©2009 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at Maxwell Devonshire Realty in Edmonton, AB]
Disclaimer: for those readers not currently represented by another licensed REALTOR®, to obtain more information on this topic and / or if you are serious about selling or buying in the Greater Edmonton Area, call Kelly at 780-414-6100 (pager) or send Kelly an email to SOLD@KellyGrant.ca to schedule a confidential appointment.