Get to Know Your Home

Once you've narrowed down your decision to the house or condo you're interested in purchasing, you'll need to learn as much as you can about its condition. Some physical issues and imperfections may be visible to you; others are sometimes revealed only through the services of a professional home inspector.

It's important to understand that no home, even if it's newly constructed, is in perfect physical condition, so upon reviewing your home inspector's report, you will find yourself weighing what kind of impact each of the home inspector's observations will have on your budget and on your living conditions. For example, while home inspectors will check major things like foundation, roof, and electrical and plumbing systems, they will also note relatively smaller problems like appliances that don't work or faucets where hot and cold are reversed, which can be easily remedied and shouldn't frighten you away from a home that otherwise matches your criteria.

While buyers serious about a house are typically encouraged to have a home inspection conducted before they commit to their purchase, condo buyers may not automatically think about engaging a home inspector to check out their new unit, thinking it's not necessary. There are, however, some of the same concerns to watch out for when inspecting both single family homes and condo units, including:

  • Spotting on ceilings, floors and walls. Any kind of spotting can often be traced back to water leaking above or behind the walls, which can lead to mould.
  • Sloping, warped or damaged floors. These too can be a result of water damage.
  • Electrical systems. While you will want to make sure that all outlets, lights and switches are working, a home inspector or electrician will be looking for things like scorch marks around breakers and fuses, which can indicate dangerously loose and sparking wires. The HVAC system also needs to be checked out to ensure the heating and cooling systems work as they should.
  • Plumbing. An essential component of any home, you need to know about any and all problems with water pressure, leaks and even the water heater. While doing the bathroom inspection, in addition to checking if water is flowing properly and if pipes are leaking, the home inspector will also make note of the smaller things, such as gaps in caulking around the tub and shower area, which can be easily remedied.

If you hire a home inspector, you may want to attend the inspection and shadow that person instead of just reading the report once the examination is finished. This way, the inspector can explain to you, in layman's term, the exact nature of any problems and how severe they are — or aren't.

A professional home inspection will help you gain awareness and valuable information about the house or condo you plan to make your home. The inspection will help determine whether or not this property meets all expectations, allow you to recognize what you may need to do or spend on it to bring it up to prime condition, and ideally lessen the risk of having to deal with unexpected defects in the home later on.