Aug 5, 2022
What to expect from a home inspection
In some situations, you may be required to complete a home inspection to obtain your homeowner's coverage. If you are buying an older home, or your current one has not been checked in over 20 years, and you’re planning for renovations, you should consider an inspection.
Even though inspectors may vary in experience, a good inspector should examine key components and produce a report outlining what they found.
Here’s what you need to know about why inspections can be required and how to find a reputable inspector for your home.
Does insurance require a home inspection?
Although a home inspection may not always be required, professionals are trained to focus on loss prevention. They help locate liabilities and safety concerns inside and outside of a house. Working with a qualified inspector can help determine the property's updated value and assess any areas that need to be updated or repaired. They can see what is currently wrong and what could go wrong in the future.
If you are a new customer or are investing in a home with an older build date, you may need an inspection. They usually happen 30-90 days after your home insurance begins. The insurer will specify if they need the interior, exterior, or both looked at.
What do home inspections look for?
The number one priority is to find any opportunities where safety or security can be improved. Inspectors will search for fire hazards and liability risks inside and outside your premises. If your home has water damage, mould, or structural damage, you will be advised on the best action to fix it. Other areas where they are looking include :
- Building’s features : Confirm the building's measurements, unique features, and the quality of materials used in the construction. High ceilings, marble counters, specialist floors and additional structures may need attention from specialized builders.
- Design and appliances : Plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC systems, windows and the roof are also areas of interest. If these areas are not well maintained, they can lead to severe damage. They will also check for any fireplaces or oil tanks.
- Fire safety : Homes with an attached garage will be inspected to ensure the wall has a proper fire rating. Smoke alarms will also be checked.
- Bathrooms : They will inspect for leaks, secure toilets, and ventilation and consider vents and windows.
- Foundation : Inspectors will check for secondary evidence of foundation problems such as settling and cracks.
- Roof : They will search for roof damage or poor installation which can lead to damage or a roof insurance claim.
- Exterior walls : Damaged siding, cracks, and soil too close to the foundation are some key areas they will search outside the home.
What’s not covered in a home inspection?
It’s important to note that a home inspection does not identify anything potentially wrong with a property. They take visual cues for potential problems.
Inspectors are known as generalists. They offer suggestions and recommendations for hiring an expert to fix and analyze the problem. If you have a specialized problem, seek a reputable expert in the field to help you repair or clarify the issue. Often they won’t check inside chimneys, electrical panels, pipes, sewers, or inside walls.
Benefits to home inspections
Although you may be tempted to skip it, here is why inspections are beneficial :
- Identify risks : To limit your chances of submitting a home insurance claim, inspections can find potential hazards or risks.
- Find discounts : You may find new areas where you are eligible for discounts you don’t currently have.
- Confirm home value : Ensure you are adequately covered for your home replacement cost, resale value, and weather-related risks.
Keep in mind that home inspections can’t predict the future – problems may show up for years after the initial inspector does their report.
How to prepare for a home inspection
Being adequately prepared before an inspection can make the process an ease. Here’s how you can prepare :
- Make sure your house is tidy. Look for any fire hazards and areas where you can minimize accidents. (Some suggestions: clear walking areas, staircases with guardrails, or a WETT inspected fireplace)
- Detailed documents about your alarm system, water sensors, water damage prevention and security features.
- Have documentation that shows the square footage of your home and property.
- List of any costs and documentation of updates to heating, electrical, windows, roof, and plumbing.
- Check exterior surfaces and finishes for cracks, mold damage, rot or mildew.
- If you have a chimney, make sure no bricks are missing and look for any damage.
- Take a look at your foundation – do you see any cracks or uneven foundation?
- Check your gutters to make sure they are attached and remove any debris.
After the inspection is complete, you will receive a detailed report of their findings and suggested timelines when repairs or updates need to be completed.
You may notice an increase or decrease in your home insurance in Ontario. Your insurer can provide a list of mandatory issues that need to be fixed. If your home is at risk and you do not make the suggested repairs, your coverage could be cancelled.
How to find a reputable home inspector
When you are looking to hire a home inspector, always look for one yourself. Although real estate agents will suggest some, you are not obligated to choose one from them. Check with family members and friends if they have any recommendations.
As of 2017, Ontario now requires home inspectors to have insurance and abide by a code of ethics. It is highly recommended to search from reputable sources such as the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors and the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.
Home inspection for condos
If you are buying a condo, home inspections are still necessary, even if it is brand new. Scheduling an inspection for your condo or apartment can help identify issues such as :
- Incorrectly installed electrical or appliances, including the exhaust and ventilation systems.
- Excess moisture or humidity, which can lead to mould.
- Structure of the unit, including if the balcony is up to building code or any external issues that could affect you.
Unlike a home inspection where a professional looks at the entire property, an inspection will critically study the stand-alone unit. Some inspectors will look at the entirety of the building (roof, air conditioning, garage) but often focus on safety within your space. If you have any individual heating or cooling units, you may be accountable for any updates or repairs before you move in. Don't forget to compare condo insurance quotes to ensure you are getting the lowest price and best coverage.
Home Inspection FAQs
In Ontario, home inspections cost between $300-$500, depending on the house and property's locations, age, and size. Typically, the buyer is responsible for these costs, but if a seller is commissioned to have it done before selling, you can ask for a walkthrough with the inspector ($100-$150) or hire a new one.
They are not mandatory unless your insurer asks for one. However, buying a home without an inspection is risky because not all sellers will disclose issues, and others simply do not know. Having a third party is the best way to get an informed opinion. They may be especially important when you are seeking Toronto home insurance since the market is so competitive.
In Canada, a home inspection is not always necessary for you to get approved for home insurance. If your house is more than 25 years old, most providers will require proof of inspection.
Homeowners or real estate agents may require an inspection before putting the house on the market. It will show any flaws or damages that need to be done. It will educate buyers and sellers ahead of time if any work needs to be done. Buyers can book an inspection before the offer date to ensure there are no hidden repairs.
Even if you are buying new, a home inspection can help spot unexpected issues. It’s a good idea to have another set of eyes on the property before moving in to check water lines, electrical outlets, and crooked walls. Even if you’re the first owner, an inspection could help save you costs down the road.
What to do after the home inspection for insurance
If you received any recommendations to avoid claims or begin home renovations, read the suggestions carefully and ask the inspector and insurer any questions. In some cases, if you don’t complete the upgrades, your policy could be cancelled.