Here are some of the frequently asked questions about home inspections. If you do not find what you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is an unbiased professional opinion as to the condition of a residential property based on a non-invasive, visual examination of the readily accessible features and components of the house and property at the date and time of the inspection.
The inspection is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector, on the date and time of the inspection. The home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or could ever exist, nor does it predict future conditions.
The inspector assesses the major areas (structure, roofing, exterior, electrical, heating, plumbing, air conditioning/heat pumps, interior/insulation) of the dwelling. The inspector is looking for any signs of damage or any deficiencies, as well as any safety issues.
A detailed report with all the findings is sent to the client within 24 hours following the inspection.
Is a home inspector biased toward a realtor who recommends the inspector?
No. The home inspector is working for the client only. Recommendations or referrals from a realtor is because the realtor likes the overall performance of the inspector - good communication, complete and thorough inspection, good report, etc. The client is free to hire any inspector, but the realtor may have preferred inspectors from past experience.
Does a home inspection check for compliance to building codes?
No. According to the Standard of Practice for home inspections, "Inspectors are NOT required to determine compliance with regulatory requirements (codes, regulations, laws, ordinances, etc.)".
Building codes are extensive and continually changing. The responsibility for following building codes is upon the builder and are subject to the specific building inspectors during the construction and/or renovation process (e.g. an electrical inspector will perform electrical inspections during the construction period). All permits issued will require several types of inspections performed by various building inspectors during the construction process.
Who should have a home inspection?
For Buyers: Our Inspection and Report will:
- Help ease the Buyer's mind on the upcoming investment
- Highlight any potential problem or deficiency we find
- Include information about the home as well as pictures
- Include all major systems (structure, exterior, roofing, electrical, heating, plumbing, air conditioning, interior and insulation)
For Sellers: Our Inspection and Report will:
- Increase the Seller's confidence and could speed up the sale
- Allow the Seller to react to issues before negotiating
- Remove the Seller's impartiality towards their own house
- Increase the Seller's confidence with solid knowledge of the property’s condition and a report to back it up
- Provide full disclosure from an unbiased third party
Other reasons for a home inspection could be for warranty - giving the house a professional inspection before the home builder warranty expires or to maintain the warranty, or for maintenance - finding out what needs repair or monitoring, and when.
What should I look for in a home inspector?
Make sure the inspector is licensed and the company is licensed. All Alberta home inspectors and home inspection businesses must be licensed through Service Alberta
Make sure the inspector is a member of a home inspection association, such as InterNACHI. Being part of an association requires the member to be taking continuing education courses to ensure that the inspector is kept current. The inspector is bound to the Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics from the Association.
Ask about the inspector's education/qualifications. If the inspector uses an infrared camera, is the inspector a certified thermographer. Is the inspector certified in any of the other special services provided.
The home inspector should have good communication skills. During the inspection, the inspector must be able to correctly convey the nature of his findings. The inspector must be able to properly write about the results of the home inspection in the report that is clear and understandable for the client.
Does the inspector/business carry Errors and Omissions insurance as well as General Liability insurance? Is the company bonded? All of these are requirements for Service Alberta licensing.
What should I expect during a home inspection?
Before the inspection starts, the standard Inspection Agreement (approved by Service Alberta) between the client and the inspector must be completed and signed. Both parties will get a copy of the Inspection Agreement before the inspection begins. The Inspection Agreement will outline what is included in the inspection. The Inspection Agreement is generally emailed to the client for signing, and then returned for Encompass to sign. This is usually completed a day or two (or more) in advance of the inspection date. Returning the signed Inspection Agreement confirms the scheduled date and time of the requested home inspection. Payment for the inspection is made before the inspection commences. During these times of COVID-19, contactless payment by Interac Email Transfer (the day prior to the inspection) is the most common and accepted method.
The inspection is a single, non-invasive, visual inspection of the readily accessible features and components of the property at the date and time of the inspection.
The inspector will systematically go through the entire house, inside and outside. As the home inspection is very thorough, the length of the home inspection is generally about 4-5 hours. During the home inspection, you can accompany the inspector. As items are discovered, the inspector will identify them to you. Any question you have will be answered by the inspector.
Since the inspection is limited to non-invasive, the inspector cannot cause any damage to the property (unless the owner has given prior written consent). The inspector can test the systems, but cannot operate any safety or shut-off valves. Neither the inspector nor the Buyer can move furniture items, storage, etc. during the inspection, therefore relying on what is readily accessible for examining.
The inspector will provide the the client with a complete type-written report of the findings in the house within 24 hours of the inspection, as specified in the contract. The report will include details of the house as well as photographs. Any item that has a recommendation will be accompanied by a reason for the recommendation as well as a timeline which indicates when the recommendation should be dealt with.
Is infrared (or thermal imaging) part of a standard home inspection?
The governing body for home inspections does not require the use of infrared or thermal cameras as part of a standard home inspection. That is why it is offered as an option. Most realtors and lenders want their clients to have infrared scanning included in the home inspection because of the added features it adds to the home inspection. For more information on infrared or thermal imaging, click here.
How much does a home inspection cost?
The cost of a home inspection will vary depending on the type of dwelling (e.g. single family dwelling vs condo), size (square footage) of the house, features within the house (secondary suite, number of bathrooms, multiple fireplaces, etc.), age and condition of the property, any extra items to be inspected or to be excluded, etc. If the home inspection is out of our standard area, there may be a small fee for travel.
Do houses "pass" or "fail" a home inspection?
The purpose of a home inspection is to assess the various systems (e.g. heating, electrical, plumbing, structure, etc.) in the house. Therefore, the house does not "pass" or "fail". The report for the home inspection shows what was found. At that point, it is up to the client to examine the findings and determine the pros and cons of the house. With the inspection report in hand, the client can make an informed decision on what they want to do. If some potential repairs or shortcomings are identified as necessary, this will provide the Buyer with information on how to approach their pending purchase (such as to purchase as is, negotiate for repairs to be done before possession, negotiate for a lower price to cover the costs of repairs, etc.) The home inspector is providing information about the condition of the home to the client to assist in their decision, but the inspector does not give any advice on any of the purchase details.