Finding a new home may be one of your biggest and most important investments and in order for you to ensure that you are protecting that investment it would be best to know how to make the most out of the home inspection process.

Why do you need a home inspection? There is no such thing as a perfect house and regardless of the age of the home you are buying, defects and deficiencies can be dangerous and costly to repair. A professional inspection service will reduce your exposure to unexpected problems and give you peace of mind about your purchase.

Making Arrangements

The time to book the home inspection is after you have completed your search process and are ready to put in an offer. Work with your real-estate professional to make your offer of purchase conditional on a home inspection. You will typically have a window of approximately five days to execute the inspection condition.

This is also a good time to impose any other conditions such as WETT (wood burning appliance), septic or well inspections in the contract depending on the nature of the property. Although these specialty inspections are outside the scope of a standard home inspection, your inspector may have a recommendation of companies who can do the work for you and even co-ordinate all the inspections for you. Inspections typically take up to 3 hours for an average house, but it is best to book a 4 hour window with the home owner in case things run long. Sometime this is an iterative process to try and find a time that works for all parties.

It is best to have selected your home inspector prior to putting in an offer to avoid having to make a rash selection during the condition period. Make sure you choose a well trained and experienced inspector and have fully researched your decision.

How do you Search for the Right Home Inspector?

Actually, there are several ways to research the services of a home inspector. You can go to the websites for the prhomestarsofessional inspection associations such as the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), or the Ontario Associations of Home Inspectors (OAHI), where they have listings of their local members. You can also use search engine listings such as Google Places or review sites such as HomeStars. You may also ask your real-estate agent or broker, or even friends and professional acquaintances.

The Inspection

Now it is time to conduct the inspection. The most important thing you can do is to make sure that you are at the inspection. This is your chance to see the issues first hand and to ask your questions.  The severity or nature of an issue can seem much different to a client who is reading a report the day after the inspection. The home inspection is not the right time to bring your extended family to see the home, this is your chance to get a handle on the condition of the property. Multiple people at the inspection will disrupt the flow of the inspection and may result in poor communication with the inspector. If you do come with a group of people, choose a delegate to be the interface with the inspector and have that person stay with them. If the inspector has to repeat information or search around the house for the client to show them something, it will cause unnecessary delays.

A good home inspector will give you a full report including the photos from the inspection, so it is not necessary to take your own photos or make your own notes unless you feel you need to. You should confirm with your inspector at the beginning of the inspection the nature of the report you will be receiving and when you will receive it. Also, during the inspection, the inspector will give you maintenance tips to maximize the life of the house. These types of tips are invaluable especially if you are a first time home buyer and are another good reason to stay with the inspector.

A home inspection is not a pass/fail test, but a thorough assessment of the condition of the property. As issues come up, try to keep your emotions in check and remain completely objective. All issues can be fixed with time and money, its just a matter of how much and the inspector can help you make that assessment. The next step is to determine the potential cost of the repairs. While home inspectors are familiar with these costs, they are not contractors and thus their inputs should only be taken as estimates. To obtain an accurate repair costs for larger items, contractors should be consulted and multiple quotes obtained. Only then will the true cost of the repair be known. After the inspection, empowered by this information you can work with your real estate professional and use it to your benefit by either asking for a price adjustment, a repair to be executed by the seller or simply make an educated decision to accept the defect.

The Wrap-up

The inspector will need time to themselves at the end of the inspection to complete the report. Some inspectors do the report onsite so that the client can take the information away at the end of the appointment. Out of the 3 hour inspection, between 45 minutes and 1 hour will be devoted to report writing. Although you are excited to move ahead with your purchase and you might need to get to work, try not to rush the inspector during this recording portion of the inspection. It is important to have all defects recorded accurately. This is a good time to take your measurements for window treatments, furniture placement and discuss the next steps with your realtor.  If you do not have time to wait, it is better to allow the inspector to complete the report later that day and either meet to discuss or have them email you the report.

Before leaving the inspection, make sure you have the inspectors contact information so that you can call them with any follow up questions.

Following the above steps will ensure that you get the most out of this important step of the real-estate purchase process, allowing you to move forward with your transaction in a confident and educated manner.