So you’ve identified the home of your dreams. Here are the Top 10 things you need to know about home inspections in Toronto:

1.  What a Home Inspection IS

When you conduct a home inspection, there are two things you’re hoping to accomplish:

    1. Identify any major problems with the house and get an idea of what’s involved in remedying those major issues. In all likelihood, in Toronto, you are not buying a new house. You’re buying a house that may have been constructed a century ago and renovated periodically (by the ex-owner’s brother’s friend who knew a little about electrical) over time. Your house won’t be in perfect condition and you need to know what to anticipate.
    2. Get an introduction to your future house so that you know how to maintain it. If you’re a first time home buyer, this will be especially important for you – owning a house is a lot of work and properly taking care of it is the only way to maintain your investment.

2.  What a Home Inspection IS NOT

Home inspectors conduct visual inspections – they don’t look behind the walls and under the floors (and yes, sometimes evil things are happening there). They are not specialists and often recommend further inspections, for example, a termite or environmental inspection, when they suspect there could other issues. Home inspections do not look for compliance with the building code or Toronto’s by-laws (for example, second apartments).

3.  Preparation for Home Ownership

One of the biggest benefits of a home inspection is that it prepares you for the house – what needs to be fixed immediately, in 2 years, in 5 years, etc. Most home inspectors spend the time to give you important maintenance tips (like telling you where the water main shut off valve is located). Good home inspection companies provide a written summary of their inspection AND a guide full of useful information about caring for your home. Some companies even offer advice from your home inspector for the time that you own your home.

4.  The Home Inspection Process

A home inspection for most Toronto houses takes between 2-3 hours.  The inspector will go through the house, room by room and look for major issues; good home inspectors will go into the attic and onto the roof too. They’ll often take pictures which will form part of the written report you will receive after the inspection.

5.  What Happens if you Uncover Something Evil.

Sometimes, home inspections uncover big, unexpected stuff – for example, a roof that needs replacing, mould in the basement or knob and tube wiring. You may need to revisit your budget. You may need to decide if you want to take on major fixes or walk away from the house. And you may need to revisit the price you offered for that old Toronto house. In most cases, big issues are already known and have been factored into the asking price; but in other situations, you may need to go back to the Seller and re-negotiate the price based on what you now know (note: this is extremely rare in a Seller’s market). Although a home inspection should not be used to nickel and dime the little stuff that you uncover, it may force a discussion about the big stuff. A good REALTOR can guide you through that process. Knowing what we now know, what is the home worth in the market? What is the home now worth to you?

Whether you’re a first time home buyer or an old veteran, home inspections are an important part of the home buying process. Make sure to read the second half of this list: Part 2: Top 10 Things to Know: Home Inspections.

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