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What’s in a Home Inspection and Should You Get One?

Getting a Home Inspection

Greetings! Welcome, once again, to the WRX Property Group website and blog. Today we’ll be diving into another subject that should be of interest to anyone going through the process of buying a home – especially if it’s your first time.

How Do You Know If You Need a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is, essentially, a very important information session, particularly for first-time buyers, but ultimately for anyone. One point we keep coming back to on these more ‘advice-oriented’ articles is that the more information you have at your disposal, the better-equipped you are at making the best decision for you.

 

Newer Homes

Newer homes, by virtue of being newer, will typically have fewer causes for concern. New-build homes will by and large be built according to modern standards, and will have had less time to develop the potentially major problems in older homes. Nevertheless, just about every home will have some sort of defect, and it’s always best to be aware of what’s going on: for peace of mind, financial security, and personal safety.


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Older Homes

With older homes – particularly significantly older homes – having a home inspector conduct a thorough inspection is all the more important. Houses undergo wear and tear over the years, with everything from human beings being human beings; weather; and Canada’s freeze/thaw cycle having an impact.

Older homes have also simply been around longer, meaning any causes for concern at the time they were built may have become exacerbated over the years. Additionally, building practices, materials, and codes have evolved over the years, so by employing a home inspector, you can ensure there is nothing potentially unsafe – or costly – with an older home.

Some of the most important issues with older homes might go unnoticed without a home inspection. Asbestos was an incredibly popular building material for much of the twentieth century, but it was discovered to be quite harmful (it can cause lung cancer, for one thing). Nonetheless, many homes and buildings, with some built as recently as the 1980s and 1990s, still have asbestos. A home inspector will determine whether or not there is any asbestos in the home.

Additionally, a home inspector will investigate the less ‘extreme’ elements of modern homes versus older homes. Is there knob and tube wiring? Does the home have galvanized plumbing? These building practices have been phased out, but they have their own implications in terms of safety and functionality, not to mention their impact on insurance.

A good rule of thumb is that for homes 50 years or older, you should really get a professional home inspector. That’s not to say that a home inspection isn’t also highly important for homes 15+ years old, or even newer homes, but the 50 year mark is a good ‘line,’ so to speak.

When it comes to newer homes, the home inspector still plays an important role. They will cover any and all major concerns, safety issues, (functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, for example), the state of the electrical system (are there exposed wires? Wiring issues?),trip hazards, and more.

Furthermore, the home inspector looks at the house itself, as a whole (as opposed to and in addition to the elements within the home). This comes down to detecting the potential defects in a home. We met with Ralph Kors, a Kitchener-Waterloo-based home inspector (we’ll introduce him more fully at the end of the article) to discuss what home inspectors will inspect in the course of a home inspection.


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Main Categories

Major systems in the house consists of the foundation; the structure; the roof (including the attic); electrical systems; plumbing; and heating. Older houses have comparatively complicated systems, elements prone to breaking down, even features and appliances that have been rendered obsolete (as touched on earlier).

In terms of structure and foundation, a home inspector look for major cracks, or anything that could be troublesome in the years to come. Such things can turn out to be quite costly, so by employing a thorough home inspector, you can not only avoid such surprises, but also come to the negotiating table equipped with more information. A home’s structure and foundation are, well, foundational to the overall state of the house.

Is there any water in the basement, or any signs of moisture? Anyone who’s heard tales of flooded basements will understand it is a serious issue; it’s important to know what the situation is. Is there any mould? The home inspector will also conduct a thorough investigation to discover any mould; again, this is a potentially serious matter.

Moving on, home inspectors will look into the health of electrical systems; plumbing set-up; and heating. Mr. Kors says he checks all of the receptacles, the light fixtures, and other elements of the electrical system. He tests all of the appliances. Is the air conditioner still performing its titular function, for example? Again, these are all potentially large costs that it’s important to be aware of upfront; it may impact your decision.

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Useful Information

Beyond the major safety and financial considerations, the home inspector will also equip you with more information. How often should you change the furnace filters? How old is the furnace itself? How old are the air conditioning unit and the water heater? Furthermore, what is the approximate lifespan of these important appliances? When should you winterize the outdoor faucets? Where’s the main water shut-off? In the case of Mr. Kors, he even provides a photographic report).

Windows are, of course, another important element to the home, and the truth is that they can be quite expensive to replace. Going back to Ralph, he will check all of the windows, and all of the doors. One might say that every time Ralph closes a door, he opens a window (but that’s just because he’s testing them for structural integrity, performance, and overall condition).

What condition is the roof – again, a rather crucial component of the home – in, and will it be in need of any updates or replacement? If so, when? By simply walking through a home, you will not have the full picture of its overall house – interior and exterior. A home inspector goes a long way to showing you not just the things to be concerned about, but also the things to budget for going forward.

 

Future Expenses

This is another important aspect to consider: that the price of a home is not exclusively what you pay upfront. In addition to bills and taxes, you also have to factor in the cost of future repairs. By having a home inspection, you can get a clearer picture of what these costs might entail – and when to expect them. By doing this before committing to a contract, you can be confident in your ability to afford the home, not just at the time of sale, but also in the years to come.

And finally, we’re going to wrap up this article with a recommendation. Firstly, we’d like to again urge homebuyers – and particularly first-time homebuyers – to consider hiring a home inspector to conduct a thorough inspection of their prospective purchase. Secondly, we’d like to recommend Ralph Kors: a professional local home inspector whose services we’ve employed over the years.

Mr. Kors started his career in home inspection in 2009, after serving a supervisory role in the manufacturing industry. Equipped with numerous certifications, and with multiple courses under his belt (including the Carson Dunlop Home Inspection course, considered one of – if not the – most comprehensive home inspection courses in North America), Mr. Kors provides the thorough, in-depth, but easy to understand service we believe homebuyers would truly benefit from.

Mr. Kors is the owner, operator, and home inspector for Home Straight Inspections, run here in Kitchener-Waterloo. He conducts inspections throughout the Waterloo Region, as well as several nearby areas (Guelph and Wellington County, Hamilton, western GTA, and more).

 

Conclusion

Kitchener-Waterloo is a competitive real estate market. This can be a very positive feature, but as noted earlier, it has led to steep competition and bidding on properties. By employing a home inspector, you can ascertain the health of a house in order make an informed decision when it comes time to make an offer, or to make a purchase. Home inspectors play an important role in the real estate world, and we recommend buyers consider employing one. Please contact us if you’d like to know more, or you can contact Ralph Kors here.

Written by Will Kummer

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