As a Registered Home Inspector I see a variety of problems in the homes I inspect. Many are basic/simple maintenance problems that should have been taken care of by the seller before putting the home on the market; why risk the sale when the home owner or handy-man could have clean up half the problems found in the inspection for $500.00 to $,1000.00.
However there is one area that the professional should be brought in, that is electrical. The majority of homes I inspect have some form of electrical issues/problems; some simple, missing cover plates to serious issues with wiring and electrical panel. Many of these conditions are a fire hazard and potential for electric shock/electrocution.
During my year of home inspection training at Durham College I was on an assignment when I came upon the most outrages electrical entrance I ever seen; definitely falls under the “fire hazard and potential for electric shock/electrocution “; no need for a conduit just drop the wires down to the porch roof, into the soffit to the back of the house and then down the wall to the basement.
Dangerous Electrical Entrance
Home owners have a pre-listing inspection done so that you can clean–up the simple problems and have the professionals correct any major problems for your own safety and a hassle free sale.
Home buyers make sure you hire a Registered Home Inspector so that you can feel confident in the inspector’s training and ability to provide you and your family with the best home inspection possible.
In the past week I have found two bathroom GFI’s that where either wired wrong, or where faulty; in both cases the receptacle was live and there was no protection from electric shock/electrocution. This type of failure is quite common in exterior receptacles. These type of failure can lead to loss of life, therefore test monthly.
You may have two devices that should be tested on a monthly bases. Every house should have Ground Fault Current Interrupter(s), (GFCI or GFI) in the bathroom(s) and exterior outlet(s), and in newer homes they may also be found in your kitchen and laundry room. The other device, an Arch Fault Current Interrupter (AFCI) will be used to protect the bedroom receptacles in newer homes.
15A GFI – Most often found in bathrooms, laundry room or outside outlets
20A GFI (“T” slot)- Used in newer homes when outlet is within 1.5 m of sink.
The propose of a GFI is to protect you from an electrical shock, a fuse or standard circuit breaker will not protect you from possible electrocution. In order to ensure that GFI is working properly it is recommended that it be tested monthly using the “Test” button on the device, ideally you will have a light or other device plugged into the GFI to ensure power is truly off. Once you have determined that the GFI is working, you can depress the “RESET” button. Most GFI’s are installed in the wall receptacles, however they may also be found in the breaker panel (see below).
AFCI – Used to protect bedroom outlets in newer homes.
Arch Fault Current Interrupters (AFCIs) are always found in the breaker panel. There propose is to detect arching between the two wires in the circuit. If the arching goes undetected there is a high probability of a fire. This special breaker(s) found in the panel will a have a “TEST” button that should be tested monthly. When you depress the test button the breaker handle will jump to the centre (tripped) position; to reset the breaker move the handle to the “Off” position and then back to the “On” position. Note: You test a GFCI breaker the same way.
If you have any questions about this article or any other issues around your house please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on Final Say Home Inspection page.
With the rise in multiple, no conditions, offers occurring in the Durham region there is a need for a pre-offer inspection that would better prepare the buyer in making that offer. The multiple offer situations may be great for the sellers, but it puts potential buyers at a great disadvantage.
There is no doubt that a full pre-purchase inspection is the best way to go, however I understand that market conditions may not allow that condition to be included in the offer and that some buyers do not feel they can afford to pay for a full inspection on a house they may not get.
Therefore I am now offering a pre-offer inspections starting at $125.00 going up to $200.00, depending on size of home and details required. There is a verbal review at the end of walk-through, however there is no written report provided. Time requirements would run from one to two hours in the home.
Following the pre-offer inspection by Final Say Home Inspections the buyer will have a better understanding of the condition of the major components of the home and:
• Allows the buyer to make an informed decision and avoid costly mistakes.
• Eliminates many of the “surprises” associated with buying a house without any type of inspection.
Almost all new homes built in Ontario fall under the Tarion Warranty program; however, most new home owners do not receive the full benefits of the warranty. Home buyers should realize that; no house is perfect, any work/repairs made to the house cut into the builder’s profit and that Tarion will only get involved if there instructions/rules are strictly followed and the problem has been documented. Only an independent registered home inspector, trained in new construction inspection, working for the home owner will ensure that full benefits of the Tarion warranty are provided to the home owner.
After two years of working for new home owners I have observed the following:
Some owners do not fill out their 30 day warranty form. Some of the reasons I heard are;
Builder said wasn’t necessary; just tell him/her about the problem?
Too busy, would fill out form when they found the time.
PDI (pre-delivery inspection) form already filled out.
Did not know that it was required.
What these homeowners do not realize is that if the 30 day form is not completed and submitted on time, that Tarion assumes that there are no problems with the home and the warranty is closed. Items on the PDI form are only valid warranty items if they are document on the 30 day form. The home owner will get another kick at the can at the one year mark. This means that they have to live with the problem(s) for additional eleven months and if the problems are cosmetic, there is a greater chance that the warranty claims will be denied.
The 1 year warranty form is the home owner’s last chance to receive full benefits under the Tarion warranty. Again timing is critical; one day late and full coverage portion of the warranty is closed. Warranty claims can be made after the one year mark; however there are severe limitations on items that are covered under the warranty after the first year.
The new home buyer deserves a house free from defects and only by using a registered home inspector trained in new construction inspection will he/she move closer to this goal. The inspector’s special training in the Tarion Construction Performance Guidelines along with his experience in re-sale homes will ensure that the appropriate items are included on the forms. A proper new construction inspection actual takes longer than a re-sale home inspection, as it is more detailed. This early warranty period is when you want to find the issues so that repairs can be made by the builder and not become the financial responsibility of the home owner.
Unfortunately some issues will not be covered and the inspector will be able to identify these items so that the home owner can approach the builder and the builder may correct these items as a gesture of goodwill. This is why the reputation of the builder is so important; the right builder can make the difference between a delighted new home owner and the person who vows never to buy a new home again.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions
A savvy home buyer must look after his/her own interest when buy a new home. Unfortunately many buyers believe that the sales representative working for the builder and the home warranty program offered by Tarion is all that they need. This can easily lead to disappointment, frustration and financial lost. Buyers need to do their homework:
Check out the builder
This is critical due to the fact that many of the flaws found in the new home is not covered by the Tarion warranty or that the Tarion performance standards leave a lot to be desired. Example, if the tiles in your front foyer cracked or loose, this is the Tarion policy; “Where floors are not required to provide water resistance, cracked or loose tiles resulting from normal shrinkage of materials due to drying after construction are excluded from the statutory warranty.” Many defects will fall under repairs made as part of “builder goodwill”; these types of repairs can make the difference between a positive buying experience versus a never ending headache and financial loss. Finding the right builder is not easy and you cannot count on Tarion for much help. See this article from the Toronto Star – Home Buyers not getting the full picture. Talk to your relatives and friends to see if they have had positive experience with a new home builder. Talk to home owners already living in homes built by the builder you are considering.
Use a buyer’s agent
This agent will be looking after your interest and will use her/his years of experience to guide you through the buying experience.
Use a Registered Home Inspector (OAHI)
Depending on the inspector’s background he/she may be willing to look at the plans and options to offer advice before the contract is signed. You will also want this inspector, who is trained in new construction inspection (CAHPI), to inspect the house before either the 30 day and/or one year warranty form(s) are filled out. It is critical that these forms are submitted in time and that the proper follow-up is completed or the warranty will be considered closed by Tarion.
Use a Lawyer
Have a lawyer review the contract before you sign; many contracts are very one sided in favour of the builder.
I have provided a link to a “Money Sense” article that I believe all new home buyers should read;
Real estate agents often see home inspectors as “the deal breakers”; that is not my job and I would be doing a disservice to you, my client, if my actions during a home inspection caused you to walk away from a house that you desire for no sensible reason.
Under-qualified inspectors may overstate /over emphases the issues in the house due to their lack of experience in residential construction and renovations. A two week training package from a franchise organization or taking un-proctored examinations on the internet does not create a qualified home inspector. With my extensive background in home construction and renovations, and specialize training in inspection, I understand the issues, can put them in the proper prospective and ensure that you receive a balanced explanation of the issue and its ramification.
The alarmist inspector (glass half full personality) sees all issues as major problems. They cannot, will not differentiate between a minor maintenance issue and a major structural problem. They can quickly overwhelm you and can easily cause you to walk away from a perfectly good deal, where the house may only need routine maintenance or minor work. An important part of my job is to provide a balanced explanation of the issue so that you understand and can put the issues in the proper prospective.
Permit me to serve you and provide a positive experience for you; so that you can make an informed decision, base on facts, with regards to the house you wish to buy, and a decision that you will be glad you made for years to come.
Home inspection in Ontario is an unregulated industry that leaves the homeowner/buyer vulnerable to unqualified / unlicensed home inspectors.
Saturday, April 13 was a busy day with OAHI (Ontario Association of Home Inspectors) that started with the morning education sessions. There was a great presentation on the ongoing drive by OAHI to have home inspectors in Ontario licensed, so far only British Columbia and Alberta have licensing requirements for home inspectors. Until Ontario implements licensing requirements it is a buyer beware situation in Ontario; a person with no background or training in residential construction/renovation and no training in home inspection can call themselves a home inspector. This must stop, call your MPP or voice your opinion to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
The afternoon was dedicated to the OAHI AGM. This was a very productive meeting with many improvements made to the OAHI organization. One change that I would like to mention is that OAHI adopted the CAPHI (Canadian Association of Property and Home Inspectors)” Standards of Practice”. This new SOP was develop for Canadian home inspectors and will be reviewed/updated every two years.
I am proud to be a member of OAHI and CAPHI, and will continue to support their effort in making the home inspection industry better for the home owners, sellers and buyers. Please share this with your friends, and with their help we can bring a licensing program to Ontario. We need licensed home inspectors.
This is a question that is often asked during a home inspection. The short answer is yes; however there are two types of testing available, which one should you use and rely on?
The following are two extracts from a Health Canada article on Radon:
Radon is a gas produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks that occurs naturally in the environment. You can’t see, smell or taste radon.
When radon gas escapes from the ground outdoors it gets diluted and does not pose a health risk. However, in some confined spaces, like homes, radon can accumulate to relatively high levels and become a health hazard.
Since you are looking for accumulation of the gas in your home (basement) the testing should be done over extend period, 2 to 3 months, and should be done when there is little to no ventilation taking place, winter months. This type of testing will give you a reliable result.
The quick test offered by some home inspection services does not provide a reliable result. If the reading is high, then action should be taken; however if the reading is low this does not mean that there isn’t a problem. It just means at that one point in time the reading was OK. If this one time Radon test is done during warm weather the windows in the basement may have been opened on a regular base or if done during colder weather the basement may have been aired out by the seller in order to eliminate any odors that may affect the sale of the house. Either of these situations will give a false sense of well being to the new home owner as the one-time test will likely show low radon readings.
As a home owner you can either hire a person qualified to do radon testing over an extended period or purchase a testing kit from a drug store or home improvement store and do the extended test yourself during the winter months or any other time the basement is not ventilated.
There are several ways to select a Home Inspector:
The best starting point is to ask your family or friends to recommend an inspector that they used and liked for their home inspection. Find out what they liked about the home inspection: was it the inspector’s knowledge, the way he/she presented the findings, or the type of report that they received. Also, ask if there was anything about the home inspector or his method of sharing the home inspection report that was less than satisfactory. This information will help you know what sort of questions you should be asking as you are speaking with prospective home inspectors.
Another effective way to find an inspector is to ask your real estate agent. However, it’s necessary to keep in mind that certain real estate agents (especially those who are selling or presenting properties with hidden deficiencies) might see competent inspectors as deal breakers. Although the majority of agents and inspectors are trustworthy professionals, if an unscrupulous home inspector is “in the pocket of” an unethical agent, you might not get the home inspection you bargained for! When you use a home inspector from the agent’s list, do your research.
The final way to find the knowledgeable inspector that will be working for you is to do some research. This will include:
verifying credentials (member of OAHI, CAHPI or holds a NATIONAL CERTIFICATE)
are they insured
asking for references
seeing an example of the reporting system used
and talking to the inspector who will be doing the inspection.
If the inspector has no website, and is not listed in yellow pages and/or other directories, can’t show you a sample report or provide references, is he/she really the person you want to inspect the biggest investment of your life? Be wary of the part-timers that see home inspection as a sideline that they can use to pick up a few dollars on the side.
As you can see selecting a home inspector takes time; therefore, the time to begin this search is when you start the house hunting process, not after you have signed the offer. There will be less stress during the negotiations if you know that you have a qualified inspector working on your behalf.