Since writing about changes coming to the home inspection industry, I have received countless emails from home inspectors, real estate agents and buyers. Buyers complained after closing about problems with their home that were not caught during the home inspection. This included serious mold behind one of the walls in the basement, a defective fireplace and a furnace that was working but would soon require to be replaced. Some buyers blamed their real estate agents, stating that they only recommended an inspector who would approve the home quickly.
In the situations noted above, it would have been difficult for a home inspector to have noticed the issue, primarily because they are not able to look behind any walls or under floors and only furnace and fireplace specialists may be able to detect certain flaws in these items. Real estate agents will typically provide the names of three inspection firms for their clients to choose from.
In rural properties, it is common to have separate inspections for the home, the well and the septic system, as these all require different expertise to properly inspect and advise potential buyers. When you now consider that the average prices for homes in the GTA is now over $500,000, and with a majority of homes being over 20 years old, it may be time to take a similar team approach when it comes to inspecting a home prior to any purchase decision.
For example, every fireplace should be inspected by a qualified wood energy technology transfer professional once a year. This is a real safety issue as an improperly working fireplace can cause a fire in your home. As was pointed out to me by Alan Hilts of Nighthawk Chimney sweeps, homes built before 1955 likely have unlined chimneys, meaning that there is not much protection between the heat and the rest of the house.
Homeowners should have their furnaces and HVAC systems checked once each year for similar reasons. Not only should you make sure that your equipment is operating safely, you may be able to make changes to your equipment that will make your system operate more efficiently, saving you money in the long term. Sellers should consider such an inspection before they put their home up for sale, to demonstrate to any buyer that the system is operating safely.
Mold is becoming an even larger issue with older homes, especially after the flooding and sewage backup that occurred last summer in many areas of the GTA. The good news is that there are now companies that can inspect for mold without having to look behind walls, due to their sophisticated infra-red equipment, thus being able to give a buyer comfort that they will not be facing significant bills in the future to remedy a mold build-up. This can be very expensive as it typically requires removing substantial amounts of drywall and then spraying the entire interior of the home to remove the mold spores. Some companies that offer this service are Tri-Star Disaster recovery Services, Canada Restoration Services and Greenstream Environmental.
Konstantino Zaraliakos, the President of Tri-Star Disaster Recovery Inc., tells me that the cost to conduct a mold inspection can be done for as little as $300. The size of the home and the extent of the mold damage within the home will determine how many samples are needed. He says that more and more buyers are now requesting this inspection as part of their home inspection process. He also states that even homeowners who are not selling their homes are requesting these inspections because of their desire to know that their home is healthy.
When you are about to make one of the largest purchase decisions of your life, it is important to have as much information that you need in advance. A home inspection team may supply the answer.
Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org