FAQ’s and Tips
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a comprehensive visual examination of the home’s overall structure, major systems and components. A trained and qualified HIA home inspector will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another. Components that are not performing properly should be identified, as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. The purpose of the home inspection is to provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection. Consumer Protection BC ‘s website states: A home inspection is an educational process which is designed to reduce a consumer’s risk when buying a home, and is not a guarantee or a warranty on a property.
How much does a home inspection cost?
Home Inspectors are free to set the price for their serviced based on their own criteria. Criteria for pricing may be based on:
- Type of Home (House, Townhouse, Condo, etc)
- Characteristics of Home (square footage, number of living units, etc)
- Extra Costs (crawlspaces, detached garages, driving distances, etc)
- Inspector Experience (established inspectors often charge a premium for experience)
- Location (different regions of BC have different market prices)
- Extra Services (non-standard items like inspecting appliances)
- Your inspector should be able to provide a firm quote in advance of the inspection.
How long does a home inspection take?
A typical home inspection has numerous elements. There is the site visit and inspection itself, often a verbal review with the client, and there is a required written report. New HIA member inspectors are required to demonstrate they can perform the site inspection for a detached house in 3 hours, excluding verbal and written reports. In practice, every home inspector will be a little different based on their personal style, the type of home, inspector experience, extra services, and reporting methods.
Typical House Inspection - 2.5 to 3.5 hours for the inspection plus verbal and written reports
Typical Townhouse Inspection - 1.5 to 2 hours for the inspection plus verbal and written reports
Typical Condo Inspection - 1 to 2 hours for the inspection plus verbal and written reports
Depending on the size, age and condition of the house, timelines can vary significantly. It is critical that the inspector has ready access to all areas and/or systems. If certain areas are inaccessible, the client may need to reschedule and pay for a return visit to the site.
What type of report should I expect?
Home Inspectors must provide a written report (this is a licensing requirement). Inspectors are free to produce the report in any style they would like so long as it contains requirements as stipulated by Consumer Protection BC and meets HIA Scope of Inspection.
Be sure to ask your inspector to include photos, particularly of all deficiencies noted in the report.
A checklist type of report should always include narrative information.
Why should I consider hiring / recommending a Home Inspectors Association BC home inspector?
As a consumer, retaining the services of an HIA member to perform your home inspection assures you that you are hiring a licensed professional with proven ability, experience and impartiality, who can give you peace of mind and help you make a confident and informed buying decision.
As a real estate professional, referring your client to the HIABC office or website for the names of qualified home inspectors can reinforce your relationship with your clients. They will feel more confident with the condition of the property, and the quality of your advice.
When do I need a home inspection?
Are you buying a home? A pre-purchase home inspection can provide you with the information you need to know about the condition of the house you plan to purchase. More information equals an informed purchase decision, which equals fewer surprises. Minimize the risk to your investment. No one wants to face serious, unexpected costs shortly after a purchase.
Considering a renovation? A home inspection can help homeowners prioritize repairs and maintenance. A pre-renovation inspection equals money spent in the right places.
Selling a home? Show prospective purchasers that every effort has been made to disclose the condition of the home. A listing inspection can equal a faster sale.
Gain an understanding of the systems in your home, their operation, and required maintenance. Preventative maintenance equals fewer headaches later.
How do I find the right home inspector?
Not all home inspectors are equally trained and qualified! Always choose an HIA member to do your home inspection.
The best source is by far a "word of mouth" referral; ask a friend, family or co-worker if they can recommend a home inspector they have used in the past and were satisfied with the services. Other sources are your mortgage lender or mortgage broker. Use the Home Inspectors Association website or our toll-free number for a referral to a home inspector.
Should I attend the home inspection?
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) article “Hiring a Home Inspector” recommends that potential home buyers accompany the inspector as the inspection takes place. It can be a valuable learning experience. You can also take this opportunity to get more familiar with your new home, to take measurements of rooms and/or windows. More importantly, you can ask your home inspector questions on the spot.
How do I prepare my home for an inspection?
Homeowners should be aware that inspectors cannot move personal effects during the course of an inspection. Here are a few suggestions to prepare a home for an inspection:
Remove any furniture and stored material from around access panels, crawl spaces, attic hatches, electrical panel boxes, furnaces, hot water tanks and water shut-offs.
If the access panel to the crawl space or attic is in a closet, you might want to remove the clothes from that closet or cover the clothes with a sheet, in order to protect them from bits of insulation and debris that might fall down in the process of removing the access panel.
Over friendly or unfriendly dogs or other family pets can complicate the inspection process and are best keep either away from the house or in a contained space during the period of an inspection.
Do home inspectors perform services other than residential home inspections?
Home Inspectors Association home inspectors offer a wide range of services including commercial inspections, indoor air quality investigations, new construction deficiencies list, building envelope surveys, WETT (wood stove) inspections, etc. Ask your potential inspector about any additional services you may need. For Commercial and WETT inspectors, simply link to 'Find an Inspector' and click on the 'area of service' for a complete list.
What Home Owners should know about ASBESTOS
In most BC homes built prior to 1990, the presence of some building materials with asbestos is almost always present. It was commonly used in office buildings, public buildings and schools. It insulated hot water heating systems and was put into walls and ceilings as insulation against fire and sound. It has also been found in many products around the house: clapboard; shingles and felt for roofing; exterior siding; pipe covering; compounds and cement; textured and latex paints; acoustical ceiling tiles and plaster; vinyl floor tiles; and appliance wiring to name a few.
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC)cautions: “To avoid health risks through prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres, proper precautions must be taken when repairs or renovations disturb asbestos-containing materials, such as: disturbing loose-fill vermiculite insulation which may contain asbestos; removing deteriorating roofing shingles and siding containing asbestos; ripping away old asbestos insulation from around a hot water tank; sanding or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles; breaking apart acoustical ceiling tiles containing asbestos; sanding or scraping older water-based asbestos coatings such as roofing compounds, spackling, sealants, paint, putty, caulking or drywall….”.
Health Canada updated their information on asbestos in June 2015: http:// healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/environment-environnement/air/contaminants/asbestos-amiante-eng.php
Safe practices for handling asbestos can be found at www.worksafebc.com.
Recognizing and disclosing the possibility of asbestos is not within the scope of your home inspection. If your inspector suspects the presence of vermiculite, he/she may suggest further evaluation and analysis by a qualified professional.
The Mesothelioma Group has asked us to share information here on their behalf regarding Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and affecting the mesothelium, a thin membrane protecting several of the body’s most important organs, developing mainly in the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Getting more information about this rare disease is the first step a patient can take to improve their prognosis. For more information, please visit their site at www.mesotheliomagroup.com.
What home owners should know about RADON
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. As a gas, radon is slowly released from the ground, water, and some building materials that contain very small amounts of uranium, such as concrete, bricks, tiles and gyproc. Radon gas breaks down further to form additional radioactive particles called radon daughters, or ““progeny”” that can be breathed into the lungs.
Radon cannot be detected by the senses, i.e., it is colourless, odourless and tasteless; however, it can be detected with special instruments.
When radon is released from the ground outside it mixes with fresh air and gets diluted resulting in concentrations too low to be of concern. However, when radon enters an enclosed space, such as a house or basement, it can accumulate to high concentrations and become a health risk.
Radon concentrations fluctuate seasonally, but are usually higher in winter than in summer, and are usually higher at night than during the day. This is because the sealing of buildings (to conserve energy) and the closing of doors and windows (at bedtime), reduce the intake of outdoor air and allow the build-up of radon.
For more information, please visit the Health Canada website at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/ radiation/radon/faq_fq-eng.php
CREA offers the following valuable information: www.crea.ca/sites/default/files/
What home owners should know about POLYBUTYLENE PIPE (POLY B)
Although largely driven by problems resulting in court actions in the US, some BC insurance companies have been known to offer coverage of Poly B with verification of copper fittings only and, on occasion, will deny coverage of any Poly B Piping. If your inspector reports on Poly B piping, be certain to check with your insurance company as to their coverage.