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Pre-purchase inspection in 5 steps

#Building inspectors #Buying a property

Last update : 2024-04-22 15:37:55

Whether you are buying a new or existing home, the pre-purchase inspection is a necessary check at the time of the transaction to ensure the condition of the property in question. After all, you wouldn't want to buy a property and find out later that it needs major work!

Of course, there are costs associated with hiring a building inspector. These costs are the responsibility of the buyer. However, be assured that this investment is much less than what you would have to pay if you bought a house whose problems were not discovered beforehand.

Why a pre-purchase inspection?

There are many reasons for a pre-purchase inspection. Among them is the fact that a pre-purchase inspection and accompanying report can help you renegotiate the purchase offer or, in some cases, even cancel it. This is an invaluable argument if major defects are discovered.

By going through all the visible components of the property, the inspection also allows you to take stock of the condition of the home and know what repairs need to be made to the building. This will help you prioritize work when you become the owner.

In short, it's an important piece of insurance that will help you make the right choice and protect you if a hidden defect is discovered.

Inspecting a house by a professional

Is a pre-purchase inspection mandatory?

Although strongly recommended by all experts in the field, a pre-purchase inspection is not mandatory for any real estate transaction. Nevertheless, it's a risky choice, especially if you're buying without a legal warranty since you'll have little or no recourse against the seller if problems are discovered. 

The 5 steps of a home inspection

Here's an overview of the main steps involved in a pre-purchase home inspection.

1. Find a house to buy (and inspect)

Before even thinking about a home inspection, the first step is of course finding a property to buy.

To help you in this process, you can use a realtor. These professionals offer their services to buyers completely free of charge since the seller pays their commission once the sale is concluded.

To finance your real estate purchase, it is useful to consult a mortgage broker about your real estate loan. Depending on your situation, the broker will compare the rates offered by the banks in order to find you the best option. Again, you do not pay anything, as the banks pay the broker to find them new clients.

Building inspection before buying a home

2. Choosing a professional home inspector

Unless you have a strong construction background, hiring a home inspector is an important step in the buying process. At this advanced stage, you've already made a purchase offer contingent on the inspection. The purpose of the inspection report is to confirm that the house is up to code.

The inspector will be an important player, as his observations may allow you to renegotiate the terms of the purchase offer, for example, if the house needs certain renovations. In other cases, he may allow you to cancel the purchase offer if he discovers serious problems that were never mentioned. You may then cancel the transaction.

For all these reasons, it's important to choose an inspector with several years of experience in building inspections. Unlike most real estate professionals, such as real estate agents and mortgage brokers, building inspectors are not regulated by the Code of Professional Conduct, so you need to be vigilant.

Make sure he's a member of a professional order, such as the Quebec Association of Building Inspectors (AIBQ). You should also check that the inspector has undergone recognized basic training, as well as professional insurance covering errors and omissions in building inspection so that you have recourse in the event of any unpleasant surprises.

What is verified during a home inspection

3. Conducting a pre-purchase inspection

A home inspection is essential if you want peace of mind throughout the buying process. You can simply hire a professional to do the inspection, or you can decide to accompany him or her on the tour to make sure the house meets your expectations. In the latter case, you can take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions without interfering with the professional's work.

What is inspected by the building inspector?

During this visit, the inspector will analyze the visible and easily accessible parts of the house, to detect potential problems and hidden defects. Amongst the components to be inspected, there is :

  • The structure (foundations, walls, ceilings);
  • The roof (the gutters, the coatings, the aeration);
  • The interior of the house (finishes, floors, doors and windows);
  • Building mechanics (plumbing, electricity, heating, air conditioning, ventilation);
  • Insulation (type of insulation, air barrier, vapor barrier, caulking);
  • The exterior layout of the house;
  • Stoves and fireplaces, etc.

Creation of the inspection report

4. Delivery of the inspection report

The pre-purchase inspection usually takes place after you've made an offer to purchase under certain conditions. The seller has an average of 7 to 10 days to accept, reject or make a counteroffer (the signed contract will specify the exact date and time). The building inspection must then be completed within this time frame to verify the home's compliance and quickly result in a sale.

Generally, the inspector will be able to deliver his report 48 hours after his visit. This time is needed to study the photos taken during the visit and to do additional research on suspicious items.

The inspection report is a valuable tool that provides advice and recommendations to help you resolve existing problems. Based on the items it highlights, you'll be able to make an informed decision about the property you want to purchase.

The inspection report reveals overwhelming problems with the condition of the house? In serious cases, you can cancel your purchase offer and walk away from the transaction.

Buyers: always do a pre-purchase inspection

5. Signing the promise to purchase after a positive inspection

If your inspector finds nothing wrong with the inspection and the problems found are minimal, then it's time to sign the Promise to Purchase. The next step is to sign the bill of sale. Congratulations, you're officially a homeowner!

How much does a pre-purchase inspection cost?

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, hiring a home inspector to perform a pre-purchase inspection will cost you. How much should you budget? That depends on the type of property you're having inspected.

In any case, expect to pay a few hundred dollars. And don't forget to get quotes from several inspectors before you choose your own: the price may vary from one inspector to the next. It pays to shop around!

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