FAQ's Ask The Inspector - Industry Topics
Top 3 Questions that Get Asked
FAQ's Industry Topics
CondosI am thinking of purchasing a condominium. If I go ahead with the purchase, what exactly am I buying?
A condominium or “condo” is not a particular type of building, but rather it defines a type of home ownership. A condominium could describe a dwelling in a high-rise building, townhouse complex, or detached home. A condo owner will usually own the interior portion of an individual dwelling unit (sometimes called a strata lot or exclusive portion), as well as a stake in the condominium corporation. A condominium corporation is a specially registered company that has an elected board of directors made up of both condo owners and sometimes nonowners. A condo corporation typically retains the services of a property management company to manage the day-to-day activities of the condo corporation, however, some condos are self-managed. The condo corporation is responsible for managing and making decisions on all aspects of the rules specifically created for the condo as well as the shared “common element” items on the property that are not part of what is defined as the individual dwelling unit. Common elements may include common hallways, driveways, parking areas, walkways, gardens, and lawns. In some cases, structural and mechanical elements, both interior and exterior, may be included. Depending on the style of the complex, some elements may or may not be included in the definition of the dwelling unit. For example, in some condos, the dwelling unit owner is only responsible for the interior of the unit. In this case, the windows, doors, roof, foundation, exterior structure, and building materials are considered common elements. In other condominiums, the dwelling unit includes the entire building (if it’s a detached home or townhouse), the interior and exterior, as well as a small parcel of land, while the common elements in this setup may include landscaping, a pool, walkways, and parking lots that are shared with the other members of the condominium corporation. It is important to understand that the rules and details of the defined common elements for each condominium corporation are different. Costs to maintain and repair or replace common element components are usually the responsibility of the corporation, while aspects of the actual dwelling unit are the responsibility of the individual owner.
Grow Houses and Drug LabsI have heard a lot in the news recently regarding homes being used to grow or manufacture illegal substances. What is the concern and how do I know if the house I am thinking of purchasing was used for such purposes?
Growing and/or producing illegal substances has become a problem in rural and urban neighbourhoods of all kinds across the country. In a short period of time, a significant amount of illegal drugs such as methamphetamines, ecstasy, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), or marijuana can be produced in a residential setting. The production of these drugs often goes undetected. Depending on how long the house is used, it may be unfit for occupancy due to electrical hazards, structural damage, and/or fungal and chemical contamination. Growing marijuana plants requires a significant amount of electricity for lights to help the plants grow in locations not visible from the street. Often, electricity is stolen by tapping into hydro lines before the meter or from adjacent homes to reduce operating costs and to prevent detection. This is because unreasonably high electricity bills may alert the authorities to the illegal activity. Tampering with live wires is very dangerous and exposed wires may be left on the exterior of the home, putting neighbours at potential risk of a fire or electrocution hazard. Unsafe wiring may also exist inside the home when additional receptacles are installed to plug in the lighting equipment.
Heating SystemsWhat is the difference in the efficiencies of different types of gas furnaces?
There are three basic levels of efficiencies of propane or natural gas fuel burning furnaces: high, mid, and conventional. The efficiency of the furnace depends on several factors, including the type of ignition system, the type and shape of the heat exchanger, the number of heat exchangers, and the type of airflow into and out of the furnace for combustion and exhaust venting.
InfraredWhat is Infrared Thermography, and how would my home benefit from a thermographic inspection?
An infrared thermographic inspection is a powerful, non-destructive, and non-invasive means of monitoring and diagnosing the overall condition of a building. It is used in applications, such as inspections, where conventional testing equipment and/or visual inspections are incapable of obtaining satisfactory results. Infrared thermography technology provides immediate documentation of plumbing and building envelope water leakage, an assessment of damaged materials post-flood and fire, energy efficiency usage and electrical problems.
Inspector QualificationsWhat are the qualification requirements for someone to become a home inspector in Canada?
Compared to many other professions, the home inspection profession is in its infancy. There are currently no licensing requirements for the home inspection profession in Canada. Since there are no licensing requirements, anyone can currently hang out a sign and call himself or herself a home inspector. However, for a number of years, interests of Canadian home inspectors have been promoted by a national organization called the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) and its affiliated regional/provincial associations. CAHPI is essentially a council of members consisting of seven Canadian regional/ provincial home inspection associations, from British Columbia to Atlantic Canada. Individual home inspectors are members of their respective regional/ provincial association. Each association has their own membership levels and requirements. Fully-qualified members of each association fall under such titles such as “Registered Home Inspector,” “Member,” and “Certified Member.” In Ontario, legislation has been passed for full members of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors to be granted exclusive use and legal protection of the designation “Registered Home Inspector.” Additionally, each association has developed by-laws that give the associations authority to regulate and discipline their members. Recent negotiations between all of the regional/provincial associations to develop national “model” by-laws to be implemented by each of the regional/ provincial associations of CAHPI has been a critical step in the direction of self-regulation and the requirement for all practicing home inspectors to eventually be licensed.
To be eligible as a fully-qualified member within each regional/ provincial association, there are several requirements. In general, fully-qualified home inspectors have completed a series of technical examinations, performed a minimum of 250 paid home inspections in accordance with the CAHPI Standards of Practice; have inspection report quality verified; carry adequate errors and omissions insurance, and are required to complete ongoing education requirements to maintain their membership status. In addition to the above-noted qualifications, many qualified home inspectors may also be professional engineers, architects, engineering technologists or individuals with extensive experience in the home inspection profession.
InsuranceI’m thinking of buying an older house. Are there any upgrades that insurance companies require?
To answer this question, we should first clarify the purpose/intent of house insurance. House insurance is intended to protect homeowners against most unforeseeable circumstances or accidents, but not predictable or inevitable events. Given that insurance companies continually compile and review the causes for insurance claims, they are capable of more accurately evaluating their risk associated with certain building components that have a high claim frequency. To minimize their risk, insurance companies are requiring certain inspections or upgrades to high risk building components be completed, in order to provide home insurance on certain (often new) insurance policies. Their policy modifications are not necessarily related to building code changes and requirements, or technological advancements, but rather are developed to reduce the risk of insurance companies having to pay out on homeowner claims. The specific inspections or upgrades to high-risk building components vary from company to company, and from region to region in Canada. Given the wide range of inspection/upgrade requirements that insurance companies may have, it is important for prospective homebuyers to clarify the requirements
Job CostingI received three quotes for performing a foundation repair in my house and they vary from $400 to $10000. Generally speaking, why do contractor quotations vary so much and should I select the lowest bidder to do the repair?
Getting quotes from contractors can be very frustrating. Prices can vary significantly, as can the suggested repair materials, means, and methods. It is always important to understand exactly what is included in the price, so that the quotes can be properly compared. Once all of the pertinent information is obtained from the different contractors, you should have enough information to feel confident that you are comparing “apples to apples,” when looking at the different quotes.
New Home WarrantyI am planning on buying a new home, but I want to make sure that my investment is protected if I have problems in the future. What kind of protection do I have when buying a new home?
Recently, new home builders have been receiving some bad press, and some with good reason. Normally, bad experiences are reported more widely than good experiences, and for that reason, all builders are given the same bad name. Whether the negative perception is accurate or not, it is the responsibility of the home buyer to research local builders to find one who will suit their needs. The builder should provide the prospective purchaser with a list of references from people whose homes they have built. The purchaser should then visit the homes to see the quality of construction on homes that are not model/show homes, which usually contain all of the bells and whistles since they are the builder’s main selling tool. Similar to any real estate transaction, the builder will require the purchaser to sign an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS), prior to building the home. This document sets out the terms and conditions for building the home, including the construction details, the price, the lot on which the house will be built, the closing date, the repercussions if the house is not built on schedule or if the purchaser has to back out of the deal, etc. Most of the time the APS is slanted in the builder’s favour and it is therefore very important to have a lawyer review the APS prior to signing. The purchaser should arrange dates or benchmarks (specific stages in the building process) with the builder to visit the home to make sure things are proceeding as planned. Showing up on-site unannounced or visiting the site after hours may cause friction with the builder and/or sub-contractors and may be considered trespassing since the builder is typically the owner of the house and property during construction of the home. Once the home is built, there is an opportunity for the purchaser to walk though the home with a builder’s representative to learn about the house, and more importantly, identify defects and deficiencies for the builder to repair. The Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) is the purchaser’s opportunity to make sure that all systems in the home are in good working order, using the materials agreed upon in the APS. Plumbing and electrical systems should be tested, the heating system and air conditioner (if possible) should be run, all doors and windows should be opened and closed, and ceilings and walls should be closely examined for cosmetic defects or moisture staining. During the PDI, it is important to document all defects on the proper PDI form. Sometimes the builder’s representative will try to discourage the purchaser from documenting defects, instead assuring them that the problems will be corrected. Beware of this practice, as verbal agreements are very difficult to verify, if the issue is not resolved by the builder.
PermitsThis article has been prepared to provide some general information on several common questions regarding building permits. For specific requirements regarding building permits in your area, please consult with your local building department.
Why is a building permit so important?
Building permits are intended to regulate the type of construction that is allowed in a community and helps to ensure safe building standards are met. The building permit process protects homeowner and community interests, and helps to ensure that construction projects are built properly and legally. In addition, having proper building permits can prevent legal complications when trying to sell or re-mortgage your home in the future.
Preparing for an InspectionThe potential purchasers of my home are having a home inspection performed. What do I need to do to prepare my house for an inspection?
A home inspection is a visible, non-intrusive review of all accessible areas and major systems of the home, as they appear at the time of the inspection. As part of a home inspection, the inspector is not permitted to put holes in walls, ceilings, floors, etc. and does not typically move furniture, boxes, clothing etc. Significant amounts of personal storage or “clutter” limits the inspector’s review of the home. The inspector cannot report on what they cannot see, and therefore has to report these limitations to the potential purchasers. Having some limitations is an inherent part of the home inspection process. However, if there are too many limitations, the prospective purchasers may feel uncomfortable and less confident about the home they are considering purchasing. To avoid this potential problem, it is recommended that the home be prepared so that the house is tidy and free of unnecessary storage during the home inspection. Areas that will need to be fully accessible
What our clients say
"My wife and I were buying our first home and had absolutely no idea what to look for when making the purchase. The Inspector walked us around the house and gave us a detailed description and history of our future purchase. He explained possible problem areas, things needed to be fixed immediately, and things we should be aware of in the future. Not only did he explain these things verbally, he also left with us a report detailing all the things he had talked about and a summary of items he saw as potential problems. Best of all, during the entire inspection he spoke to us in layman's terms so we were able to understand all he told us."
“We especially liked the Inspector attention to detail, and the fact he took the time to point out potential problems."
“I liked having suggestions given to avoid future problems.”