Friday, November 27, 2015

Make sure the home inspector you hire has the knowledge and experience

Mike Holmes: Make sure the home inspector you hire has the knowledge needed to do the job right

 |  | Last Updated: Nov 21 9:54 AM ET
More from Special to National Post
The Holmes GroupThermal imaging is an non-invasive method of detecting problems that may be hiding behind walls.
    When buying, some people are tempted to skip getting a home inspection, either because they want to save some money or because they fall in love with a place. But it’s easy to make a home look good on the surface — and that could mean you’d be buying an illusion.
    If you really want to know what you’re buying, get a home inspection.
    But there are a few rules you should follow. First, hire the right inspector — a pro. Hiring the right home inspector is done in the same way you would hire the right contractor: by slowing down, doing your homework and educating yourself.
    Make sure the person has plenty of experience doing home inspections. Ideally, you want someone with at least 1,000 home inspections under their belt, and someone with a residential construction background.
    You don’t want someone who was flipping burgers six months ago, nor an accountant-by-day-home-inspector-by-night. You need a professional, and professionals live and breathe the industry. Why? Because they have to.
    Think about it. If a person is expected to be able to come into a home — any home — and point out all the major issues in just a couple of hours, they need to know what the red flags are, what to look for depending on the age of the home, its construction, the area, local weather and environmental conditions, etc.
    They also need to have a basic understanding of structure, plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), and recognize what was done five years ago, 20 years ago, 100 years ago, and what’s being done today — and how all those things can affect other areas of the home.
    It’s a lot of stuff to know.
    For example, if they’re looking at an older home, a good home inspector would know to check for knob-and-tube wiring, lead or galvanized-steel piping and vermiculite and/or asbestos.
    If the electrical is knob-and-tube, some insurance companies won’t insure the house, or will charge a much higher premium. If there’s galvanized-steel piping, it can rust and reduce water pressure — or it could even rupture. If the water-supply piping is made from lead (which is possible in older homes), it can wear down over time and it could get into your water, which we all know wouldn’t be a good thing. If there’s vermiculite insulation, it can contain asbestos, and disturbing it can create a serious health risk.
    The Holmes GroupHomebuyers should never waive a home inspection and always hire an experienced professional.
    Knowing how to inspect a home isn’t just something you can pick up and do in a few months. It takes time and experience to get it right and do it right, because if they get it wrong, it could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs — to you.
    Get your money’s worth by hiring a pro, and then ask a lot of questions.
    Educate yourself. Know what to expect during a home inspection and what to ask. I recommend walking around the house with the home inspector; that way you can ask all the questions you want to get the information you need.
    And at the end when you get the report, READ IT! Sometimes people pay to get a home inspection, and then they never read the report. That makes no sense.
    Go through it, make sure you understand everything that’s in there, and if you have any questions contact the inspector. If they suggested a more thorough followup on a specific part of the house, like the furnace or the plumbing, bring in a professional specialized in that area as soon as possible. The information they then give you could turn out to be a deal breaker on the purchase of that house.
    A home inspection gives you a snapshot of a home at the time of inspection. The goal is to minimize risk for the seller and buyer by pointing out the big problems and the major issues.
    Slow down, do your homework, educate yourself and hire a professional home inspector. Because you have to look out for yourself and protect your investment, because no one else will.
    Watch Mike in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right, on HGTV. For more information, visit