I'm an idiot for thinking people should get an inspection...Why wouldn't you get an inspection?
I recently got into an argument with someone about the importance of a property inspection when buying a home. I am a firm believer in having one completed when purchasing a home and the other person did not agree at all. Their point was that if an inspector is not held liable for their inspection then what is their worth? The disagreement finished in a Donald-Trump-esq name calling display where I was called an idiot, a fool and numerous other four letter words for recommending that buyers get a property inspection. To me, getting an inspection is important and I don't believe in 'telling' , so let me show you the importance with a couple recent stories of inspections gone awry.
In the past three years I have only had one client not want an inspection on a detached home and that was because the buyer has been renovating, fixing, flipping and renting homes for the past 25 years. I feel that he likely knows something about what he is looking for! I, personally am not an expert on renovations, home maintenance or finding issues with homes, I leave that to the professionals but I have picked up some knowledge over the last several years shadowing inspectors to learn more about what to look for so that I can better represent the buyers I am working with during the home search process but an expert I am not.
The perfect home with that wasn't...
I had been working with Zied and Julie for nearly 6 months while finding them a home in 2013. We had looked at a large selection of homes but were unable to find the perfect home for them until we came across a home in the Tusslewood area of Tuscany. The home showed great, it was extremely well maintained and you could tell the sellers had a great pride of ownership. Everything that Zied and Julie were looking for this home had, an area they could use as a play area on the main level, a large west facing backyard, big windows, a green space in the backyard and no work to do inside the home. Most of the home was renovated and the kitchen presented as a chef's dream with upgraded appliances, quartz counters and a massive island. The home appeared to be perfect for them.
Shortly after our second showing at the property we started the negotiation process and later that night we had a conditional sale. We had been in the property twice and it seemed perfect, a newer home, totally renovated and a price that were looking for; a few days later we were back in the home doing an inspection.
My thoughts on inspections
I feel that a home inspection is key to the home buying process and that during the inspection we should be looking for major issues with the home that might either make the buyer change their mind about purchasing a home or something that needs to be addressed immediately that may get us to ask the sellers for compensation to fix the problem right away. I don't think the focus of an inspection should be to find minor defects like scratches, dents and cosmetic issues; especially ones that were visible during our showings. An inspector should be looking for big ticket items like: structural issues, water damage and electrical concerns, not whether or not the hardwood floor needs refinishing.
What was wrong with the house?
A few days after Zied and Julie purchased the home in Tusslewood we had Ryan come over to do the inspection for them.
I work closely with Ryan Van Kessel at PROspections Home Inspections He has worked with a large majority of my clients and everyone has always been extremely happy with his work and so have others; you can check out his online reviews here.
Everything was great, the home was almost new and the inspection was going really well. The selling agent had contacted me while the inspection was going on and asked me how it was going, I told them it was going great and that we should be finished soon. In Ryan's process, the final portion that he always does is to scan the home with a thermal cameral to look for variances in heat that, could be indicators for larger problems.
I was upstairs working on some paperwork while Zied and Julie were going throughout the home with Ryan, I always stay at inspections with buyers; I feel it is my responsibility to do so. I want to make sure that if there is a larger issue that pops up during the inspection that I am present so that I can see it too. I want to make sure that I am doing the best I can when representing clients and seeing the problem first hand will help me when negotiating on behalf of the buyers with the sellers. Yes I know that lots of realtors don't stay for the inspection but that's not how I operate and I could write another post about just that....but I digress.
"Tim you might want to check this out."
Never a good sign when I am at an inspection. I went downstairs to see what they had found and Ryan had found a leak that had not shown water damage on the ceiling of the basement. Using the thermal camera he could see that there was water leaking from upstairs. We began our search...45 minutes later and we couldn't find out what it was that was leaking. We thought it might have just been pipes running into the kitchen or the bathroom but we were unsure.
I reached out to the selling realtor and explained the situation, I told them that we would not be waiving the property inspection condition until we found out what the problem was. Assuming it was a plumbing issue, the sellers called a plumber and he opened up the ceiling in the basement to find out that it was actually a leak in the roof that had travelled all the way to the basement. Without tearing out the drywall throughout the house there was no way of knowing how much water damage had been done behind the walls. Not wanting to accept the risks of not knowing what damage had been done to the house Zied and Julie decided not to move forward with the purchase. I feel this is a great example of how without an inspection you would have never known there was an issue with this property. The home was almost brand new, built in 2012 and showed zero evidence or symptoms of a roof that was leaking all the way into the basement!
They cut a supporting beam!
Another time that having an inspection saved the day was during a purchase with Colin for a town-home in the Marda Loop area. We had seen a large selection of townhomes in the area but none had struck a chord with Colin; this was back in 2013 when the market was a lot different then it is today. Colin purchased the home in a competing offer but unlike many others during the time we did not remove the property inspection condition to make the offer appear stronger. We had offered over asking price but still had the property inspection condition written in the contract. Good thing too! During the inspection it was revealed that a supporting beam in the basement had been cut to rig the central vac for the home. I quickly took a picture and sent it to the selling realtor, she informed me that the sellers didn't know it had been done and that they did not get an inspection when they purchased the home so they were unaware that one of the components of the supporting structure of their home was missing. The cut beam explained some of the settling issues we had seen upstairs with squeaky floors and some drywall cracks around the corners of doors. This one seemed like a slam dunk for the buyer when he purchased the home but when we found the structural issue, Colin decided not to move forward with this property and a couple weeks later we found him another home which, did not have any issues or potential structural problems.
Water damage that we could not see
The most recent experience I had with an issue uncovered in a home inspection was not a show stopper but it certainly was an issue that needed to be addressed. This time the property was a condo in Canmore. John and Karen had been looking for a vacation property that was close to their family in Calgary that they could rent out on their own when they were not using it. We found them the perfect property with tourist zoning that would allow them the flexibility to do this. John and Karen are currently living in California and during the purchase process their son, Brett and I viewed properties and short listed a selection for her to come and view too. When Karen came to visit we spent a week in Canmore going through the different options and looking at homes with different zoning; finally deciding on a condo located on Kananaskis Way.
Karen was only in town for a week and for several reasons we were not able to complete the inspection until after she had returned to California. Not wanting them to miss out on the inspection we arrange a time when they were available so that we could FaceTime with them during the inspection and show them what Ryan found. Talk about a great solution for out of town buyers! As in the other examples above, there were zero indications of any issues with the property. Typically, with a condo purchase around half of purchasers decide to go ahead with a property inspection, often the determining factor is whether or not the home has its own independent water tank and furnace. This unit had those but the issues did not arise from there. Everything checked out until Ryan went
through the house with the thermal camera again, something seemed off in the main bathroom and he began to dig a little deeper to see what the issue might be.
A leak again?
It seemed like the toilet was leaking and that the water was pooling underneath the tiles in the bathroom, I doubt the average person would have picked up on this; I certainly did not. Ryan had noticed that one of the tiles was cracked and that it flexed weirdly compared to the rest during his inspection. He followed this up with the thermal camera and moisture meter reading. The moisture meter indicated 100% moisture below two tiles in particular. Again, there was zero indication that there was a leak in the bathroom, the ceiling on the floor below did not show visible signs of water damage either.
In the end the buyers decided to move forward with the property but due to the inspection and having been there to see the problem myself I was able to negotiate on the buyers' behalf and get them an addition $2000 credit at closing to fix the problem. We didn't want the amount taken off the mortgage but wanted a credit so that they could have a plumber and tile person remedy the issue as soon as they moved in.
Should you get an inspection?
I am always amazed at what can be found during an inspection, most of the time there are no issues at all but not everything is visible to the eye and often a home that seems perfect can have issues. I have seen issues with condos, older homes and one time a brand new home without insulation in the roof where the builder simply missed or forgot to have it installed. I always recommend a property inspection, you never know what might be hiding under the drywall and $500 spent on an inspection might save you years of headaches with a property or the costs associated with an expensive fix like the examples above. The purchase of a home is one of the largest investments you will make, why not protect your investment as best you can starting with an inspection? Doesn't seem foolish to me.
Do you have an inspection story? Email me, I'd love to hear about it. firstname.lastname@example.org