To do a Home Inspection or not

If you’re thinking about buying a home (and especially if it’s your first time) there may be a lot of daunting questions that come to mind.  Home much of down payment do I need? Can I get a mortgage? What are land transfer taxes? Do I need a lawyer? If so where do I find one? How much can I afford? Should I do a home inspection?  If yes, what exactly is a home inspection? When do I need to get insurance?

You get the idea.

Don’t let these questions scare you.  They are all very valuable concerns but most of these issues can be dealt with quite easily.  So for today’s edition of my blog I’ll tackle the issue of Home Inspections.  Should you have one done?

The simple answer is yes.  The more complicated answer is it depends. 

If you’re buying a house and it’s located in this city then it is absolutely necessary to get an inspection done.   If you’re buying a condo then you may not need to get an inspection done but you will absolutely need to look at the status certificate. 

Let me deal with houses first.  So what exactly is a home inspection? Basically, you’re paying a company to go into the house that you are interested in purchasing to inspect plumbing, electrical, interior and exterior structural etc.  Trust me when I say it is worth the money.  For example, if the house you are looking at is still using knob & tube wiring you’re going to want to know this.  Most insurance companies now have fairly strict guidelines in place regarding this type of wiring (mainly because it is highly prone to fires) and will either insist on you replacing it within a certain period of time or they may refuse to insure you all together.  Or if they do agree to insure you it will cost you more money than necessary.  Something you definitely need to know before taking on ownership of a property.  (I’ll deal with insurance on another day). 

Knowing if the house that you’ve fallen in love with has issues doesn’t mean that you can’t go ahead with the purchase.  A lot of houses in this city were built a long time ago and are in need of repair.  What it does mean is that you are in a position to ask for an abatement on the existing offer (which is the case if you’ve put in a conditional offer) or to put in a more educated offer (which is the case if you’re putting in a non-conditional offer).  You’ll have a better understanding of the costs of repairs and be able to offset that with the amount of money you are paying for the property. 

Some houses will already have inspections available for you to look at.  Typically this happens when the property has an offer date and the seller is looking to get multiple offers.  Should you still get an independent inspection done?  My answer here is more than likely not; however you should make sure that the company they used is one that is reputable.   

Let me talk about condos.   Condominiums are a little easier to deal with when it comes to home inspections.  Certainly you may have one done and if it’s an older building you may want to have one done.  Keep in mind that a home inspection on a condo only covers what is in the interior of the unit, for example, plumbing, lighting, condition of appliances etc. A home inspection in this setting will not look at the plumbing, electrical, structural etc. outside of the individual unit.  Known deficiencies in these areas and others are found in the Status Certificate.  This document is essential when purchasing a condo and I strongly recommend putting a clause in any offer on a condo that gives you and your lawyer time to look at this document.   The Status Certificate is a difficult document and I don’t want to add too much confusion to the topic at hand, I will cover off what is contained in this document in an upcoming blog.

To be clear; a home inspection on a condo is up to you, but it may be a bit redundant and a waste of money.   Think of it this way, when you do an inspection on a house you’re not paying to have the inspector look at just the plumbing in the kitchen, you are paying the inspector to look at the plumbing from its point of origin all the way into the kitchen. 

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