Recipient of the
2007 Canadian Inspector of the year award from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
The Home Inspection Defined
A general home inspection is a visual inspection for system and major accessible component defects and safety issues. The inspection is not technically exhaustive. A "general home inspection" and a "home inspection" are the same thing.
It’s a Visual Inspection
A home inspection is designed to reflect, as accurately as possible, the visible condition of the home at the time of the inspection. Conditions at a home for sale can change radically in only a day or two, so a home inspection is not meant to guarantee what condition a home will be in when the transaction closes. It’s not uncommon for conditions to change between the time of the inspection and the closing date. A “visual” inspection means that a home inspection report is limited to describing conditions in those parts of a home that an inspector can see during the inspection. Obviously, parts of the home that are permanently hidden by wall, ceiling and floor coverings are excluded, but so are parts of the home that were inaccessible during the inspection for some other reason. Some reasons might include lack of an access point, such as a door or hatch, or a locked access point, or because an occupant’s belongings blocked access, or because of dangerous or unsanitary conditions. Although I make every effort to gain access to these areas, sometimes it’s simply not possible. I do however recommend making arrangements with the seller and/or listing agent to allow access for a follow-up inspection. An inspection is NOT complete unless I have full access to the entire home. For the most part, most sellers are decent people simply wanting to sell their home and move-on to another. However, it has been my experience that not all are forthright. I have seen most everything during my 7+ years in this industry, including hiding defects with belongings. The typical all-time classic response is “You can’t enter that room because someone is sleeping”. I always get suspicious about that one!
The point is that if an inspector can’t see a portion of the home, the inspector can’t assume responsibility for ensuring that a safe and proper condition exists or that systems are operating properly in that hidden space.
Safety can be a matter of perception. Some conditions, such as exposed electrical wiring, are obviously unsafe. Other conditions, such as the presence of mold, aren’t as clear-cut.
In the example of the possible existence of mold, it's difficult to accurately call it out during a general home inspection because mold sometimes grows in places where it can’t be readily seen, such as inside walls, making its discovery beyond the scope of the inspection. Also, the dangers to human health are from the inhalation of spores from indoor air.
Most people with healthy immune systems have little or no problem with inhaling spores. A few people whose immune systems are compromised by lung disease, asthma or allergies can develop serious or even fatal fungal infections from mold spore levels that wouldn’t affect most people. Every home has mold and mold colonies can grow very quickly, given the right conditions. Mold can be a safety concern, but it often isn’t. The dangers represented by mold are a controversial subject. Other potential safety issues also fall into this category.
Although the majority of the inspection is visual, the InterNACHI Standards of Practice do require inspectors to operate space and water heating equipment, and air-conditioning equipment, if it can be done without damaging the equipment.
Inspectors will also examine the major accessible components of certain systems as required by the Standards of Practice. Furnace air filters are one example.
A home inspection is not technically exhaustive, meaning that systems or components will not be disassembled as part of the inspection. For example, an inspector will not partially disassemble a furnace to more accurately check the condition of the heat exchanger. Inspectors typically disclaim heat exchangers.
Asbestos, mold, lead, water purity, and other environmental issues or potential hazards typically require a specialist inspection, and may additionally require laboratory analysis.
Home Inspectors are Generalists
Home inspectors are not experts in every home system but are generalists trained to recognize evidence of potential problems in the different home systems and their major components. Inspectors need to know when a problem is serious enough to recommend a specialist inspection. Recommendations are often made for a qualified contractor, such as a plumber or electrician, and sometimes for a structural engineer.
Very few home inspectors have been in the inspection industry for their entire working lives. Many home inspectors have a background in the building trades. Those with a construction background started with a general idea of the systems and components that they might find installed, as well as how those systems function, age, and fail. Luckily, your Toronto Home Inspector falls into this category. I have been in the construction industry for 30+ years, both in the residential and commercial/industrial sectors, and in the the Inspection Industry for 7+ years. This doesn’t mean that inspectors with a background in something other than the building trades are not qualified....only that they started in the inspection industry at a relative disadvantage. I know because I have trained several home inspectors fresh out of Home Inspection courses. Building the skills and developing the judgment to consistently recognize and interpret evidence correctly and make appropriate recommendations are things that can be improved with experience and continuing education.
I have the following qualifications to serve you better!
Home Inspection Fee
My Home Inspection fee’s start at $450.00 if for some reason you feel this is a high fee; I will gladly provide you with several inspection firms that charge as low as $199.00. Remember that a typical inspection requires 2.5 to 3 hours to complete, and a minimum of 45 minutes travelling time to and from the inspection location. Add 3 to 4 hours for a computer generated inspection report and you will see that my fee is not excessive. I also feel you get what you pay for in this world…a cheap inspection is likely conducted by someone new in the industry that wants to capture his or her share of the market, or by someone under qualified that will rush through multiple inspections per day. I have been to a few inspections where several inspectors (including myself), were conducting a home inspection at the same location. To my amazement, one of the home inspectors that were on-site was inspecting the top floor while I was still finishing the basement inspection. I say to my amazement because we started the inspection at the same time!
I have always maintained that homebuyers will be burdened with thousands of dollars in expenses if something is missed during the inspection process. My obligations are to my client and my client alone. I have been in this industry far too long to be influenced by real estate agents or homeowners.
I get asked this question all the time: Should I attend the Home Inspection?
Absolutely! I encourage it. In fact, if you can’t be there, I won’t do the inspection. It is often helpful to be there so I can explain in person and answer any questions you may have. This is an excellent way to learn about your new home even if no problems are found. But be sure to give me time and space to concentrate and focus so I can do the best job possible for you!
I Can schedule Your Inspection Within 24 Hours In Most Cases