Home Inspections - Ignore the home inspectors advice at your own risk

Inspection can help make up your mind

HOMES: Ignore the inspector's advice at your own risk

Joanne Hatherly

CanWest News Service

Sunday, July 03, 2005

VICTORIA -- To inspect or not to inspect? It shouldn't be a question.

Here's some advice for buyers bypassing home inspections: Don't be a fool.

Making an offer conditional on home inspection is one of the best tools buyers can employ to safeguard their real-estate investment dollars.

But first you must inspect the inspector's credentials.

Look for a home inspector who is registered with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors. You don't want to rely on someone who has the savvy to put out a business card and not much else when it comes to advice on a home purchase.

CAHPI inspectors must pass written exams and conform to industry standards of practice. Your inspector should have insurance against errors or omissions. A properly qualified professional is unlikely to make serious errors, but it's better to have insurance against an expensive mistake.

Or you can go the extra mile and hire a professional engineer to assess your home structurally. Years ago, we had a home inspected by professional engineer at a cost that was about 2.5 times higher than a regular home inspector. It turned out to be money well spent. He pointed out a structural flaw that would in time translate into repair bills that might have outstripped the purchase price of the home. When we asked him if we should buy the house, his response was: How much do you want this house? If you love it and can't see living anywhere else, buy it, but with your eyes open. We passed on the house. Remember, the ultimate decision and pricetag for repairs will rest with you.

A home inspection report is not a to-do list for the seller. According to HouseMaster Inspectors, people often ask inspectors "who should make the repairs," and "should I buy this house?" The role of the home inspector is to provide their opinion of the home's condition at the time of inspection. Buyers should look to their real estate professionals and lawyers to answer other questions.

Remember that a home inspection is not a pass/fail test, but an opportunity for the prospective buyer to learn what they're getting into on their investment. Some buyers are willing to invest in a sizable renovation; others may only be looking for a home that they will occupy for only a few years and may want a trouble-free house.

Remember that a home inspection may reduce the risk in buying a home, but it cannot entirely eliminate it.

Ignore the inspector's advice at your own peril. A house's defects can only worsen as they deteriorate through usage and age. Address outstanding concerns as soon as possible.

Your real estate agent or mortgage adviser can usually recommend three home inspectors in your area, or you can find one through the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors at www.cahpi.ca.

© The Vancouver Province 2005