Home Inspections


Len Inkster

Inspecting New

Inspecting Old
Why get a home inspection?What you getWhat is a home inspection?Limitations

Why you should get a home inspection



Pre-printed wording in standard realty agreements states in bold: “The Buyer acknowledges having the opportunity to include a requirement for a property inspection report in this Agreement and agrees that except as may be specifically provided for in this Agreement, the Buyer will not be obtaining a property inspection or property inspection report regarding the property” (Clause 13. Inspection, OREA form 100).

What does this mean?   It means that if you take this option you are waiving your right to be represented by a Home Inspector who is trained to identify Material defects in a property.

To get the information you need to make the best decision for your family.  If this is the case then caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies



Getting a pre-listing inspection will help you in getting your home ready to sell.  It will identify issues that you as a loving homeowner may have overlooked but will not be missed by your purchasers inspector.  Pre-listing inspections often come with the option of a secondary inspection to re-inspect the home and produce a final report once any remediation has taken place.  Obviously purchasers may state that they have an issue with this approach in that they would be relying on a home inspection paid for by the seller. Objectivity and thoroughness can be brought into question.  If you do decide to rely on a seller-supplied home inspection, our inspectors will provide the purchasers a walk-through of the inspection report. This is becoming a more common practice in today’s market, and we usually charge a nominal fee to do this.  As we must always be working for our clients, and in a walk-through the clients are the purchasers, objectivity can be proven.

This type of inspection has three major advantages:

  1. It acts as a marketing tool, allowing prospective purchasers to see that the home has been analysed thoroughly by a qualified person.
  2. It reduces the likelihood of the 11th hour renegotiation which is the major “killer” to a deal
  3. It reduces the closing costs of the purchaser and therefore makes the home more attractive to those on tight budgets

What a home inspection gives you

First and foremost it gives you contingency.

Contingency for Buyers


If you are buying this contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can back out of your offer, free of penalty, within a certain time-frame. The potential problems a home can have don’t even have to be serious, if from the inspection report you judge the maintenance costs would be greater than you would want to spend in the near future.  It also gives you the benefit of an impassioned professional advising you, who is not affected by your emotions toward the property.  The Inspector has no vested interest in whether you buy the house or not and the cost of a home inspection is many times less that a single major defect that goes undetected.

Contingency for Sellers


If you are a seller, a Home Inspection gives you the contingency to delay your house sale until any material defects are correctly allowing the sale process to proceed smoothly and allow you to get the best possible price for your home.  It allows you to show prospective purchasers that you care for your property and and not someone who would want to “cover up” or “hide” issues that might hit the purchaser later down the road

Second, and whether you are buying or selling, a home inspection gives you valuable information

  • You get an accurate and up-to-date health check on the home you are considering buying or selling.
  • Previously undiagnosed problems and avoid unpleasant and surprises and expenses in the future can be identified
  • The inspector can indicate the average costs to spend maintain and repair your home.  If you are buying and are on a tight budget you might be able to buy the house, but do you have the cash flow to keep up the value of your investment?  If you are selling you may want to have the decision as to whether to repair a defect or reduce the price according to your requirements leaving you in control of the sales process.
  • It allows you to establish what needs to be fixed immediately and what can be viewed as longer term maintenance, and the time frame for that work.

What a home inspection examines

In Ontario, at the time of writing, Home Inspectors are not regulated.  Their is no such thing in Ontario as a Licensed Home Inspector and so inspectors vary in experience, ability and thoroughness.

Our inspector Leonard (Len) Inkster is a Certified Master Inspector, a Certified Professional Inspector, is Certified in InfraRed examinations, and is a Certified Indoor Air Consultant.  He has completed both on-line and college training in the Home Inspection and associated fields and is a board member and trainer with the Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors.   In addition Len sat on the expert panel that developed recommendations for the regulation (licensing) of Home Inspectors in Ontario and he works with other associations helping develop profession standards and educational requirements for the Inspection profession.

The typical inspection lasts two to three hours and you should be present for the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if necessary, ask questions. While any problems the inspector uncovers make more sense if you see them in person instead of relying solely on the snapshot photos in the report Len provides online reporting that includes pictures AND videos where he feels it requires advice or information a photo alone will not suffice. This type of report helps tremendously if the purchase goes through as the video, photograph and narrative reporting are easier to follow, especially after lengthy closings.

Len also provides all his clients that decide to complete the purchase 12 months following the inspection independent consultancy, free by phone and email or where required personal visits at nominal cost to cover expenses, on items specific to the property and the findings either in the report or those that may not have been visible at the time of inspection.

Our inspector will note:

  • whether each concern he has is a safety concern, major defect, or minor defect
  • which items need replacement and which can be repaired or serviced
  • items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely

He will even tell you about routine maintenance that should be performed, which can be a great help if you are a first-time buyer.

While it is impossible to list everything an inspector could possibly check for, the following list will give you a general idea of what to expect.

  • Exterior walls – The inspector will check for damaged or missing siding, cracks and whether the soil is in excessively close contact with the bottom of the house, which can invite wood-destroying insects. However, the pest inspector, not the home inspector, will check for actual damage from these insects. The inspector will let you know which problems are cosmetic and which could be more serious.
  • Foundation – If the foundation is not visible, and it usually is not, the inspector will not be able to examine it directly, but they can check for secondary evidence of foundation issues, like cracks or settling.
  • Grading – The inspector will let you know whether the grading slopes away from the house as it should. If it doesn’t, water could get into the house and cause damage, and you will need to either change the slope of the yard or install a drainage system.
  • Garage or carport – The inspector will inspect the attached garage.  The door will be inspected for proper opening and closing, the framing will be inspected if it is visible and determine if the garage is properly ventilated (to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning). If the water heater is in the garage, the inspector will make sure it is installed high enough off the ground to minimize the risk of explosion from gasoline fumes mingling with the heater’s flame.   Unattached garages and other outbuildings are outside the scope of a regular home inspection but may be included in the scope as an extra service.
  • Roof – The inspector will check for areas where roof damage or poor installation could allow water to enter the home, such as loose, missing or improperly secured shingles and cracked or damaged mastic around vents. He will also check the condition of the gutters.  If it is safe for him to do so he will walk the roof otherwise the inspection will be via pole camera and/or telephoto lens and/or binoculars whatever the inspector deems appropriate.
  • Plumbing – The home inspector will check all faucets and showers, look for visible leaks, such as under sinks and test the water pressure. He or she will also identify the kind of pipes the house has, if any pipes are visible. The inspector may recommend a secondary inspection if the pipes are old to determine if or when they might need to be replaced and how much the work would cost. The inspector will also identify the location of the home’s main water shutoff valve.
  • Electrical – The inspector will identify the kind of wiring the home has, test all the outlets and make sure there are functional ground fault circuit interrupters (which can protect you from electrocution, electric shock and electrical burns) installed in areas like the bathrooms, kitchen, garage and outdoors. They will also check your electrical panel for any safety issues and check your electrical outlets to make sure they do not present a fire hazard.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) – The inspector will look at your HVAC system to estimate the age of the furnace and air conditioner, determine if they function properly and recommend repairs or maintenance. An inspector can also give you an idea of the age of the home’s ducting, whether it might have leaks, if your home has sufficient insulation to minimize your energy bills and whether there is any asbestos insulation.
  • Water heater – The home inspector will identify the age of the heater and determine if it is properly installed and secured. The inspector will also let you know what kind of condition it is in and give you a general idea of how many years it has left.
  • Kitchen appliances – The inspector will sometimes check kitchen appliances that come with the home to make sure they work, but these are not always part of the inspection.
  • Laundry room – The inspector will make sure the laundry room is properly vented. A poorly maintained dryer-exhaust system can be a serious fire hazard.
  • Fire safety – If the home has an attached garage, the inspector will make sure the wall has the proper fire rating and that it hasn’t been damaged in any way that would compromise its fire rating. They will also test the home’s smoke detectors.
  • Bathrooms – The inspector will check for visible leaks, properly secured toilets, adequate ventilation and other issues. If the bathroom does not have a window and/or a ventilation fan, mold and mildew can become problems and moisture can warp wood cabinets over time.

Home Inspection Limitations

Visual limitation

Visual limitations

A home inspection can’t identify everything that might be wrong with the property – it only checks for visual cues to problems. For example, if the home’s doors do not close properly or the floors are slanted, the foundation might have a crack – but if the crack can’t be seen without pulling up all the flooring in the house, a home inspector can’t tell you for sure if it’s there.

Not technically exhaustive

Not technically exhaustive

Furthermore, most home inspectors are generalists, a bit like your doctor.  For example, they can identify if a component such as the plumbing, electrical system, structure or roof has a problem.  Some with more experience might even be able to identify the root cause of many of the problems, but most will recommend that you hire an expert to verify the problem and give you an estimate of the cost to fix it, much the same way your doctor might refer you to a specialist.

Of course, hiring additional trades may cost extra money, but in the majority of cases, the Home Inspector alone will be able to give you enough information for you to decide what to do next.

Not a specialist inspection

Not a specialist inspection

A home Inspection is also not a check for wood destroying organisms, pest control, environmental assessments or mold specific, engineering problems and other specialized issues.   Your inspector MAY be qualified to talk on these matters, but these are outside of the scope of a Home Inspection and should NOT be considered a service that is automatically included.

Specialist Inspections

Specialist Inspections

Wood Burning fires

Many rural and older urban homes have solid fuel fireplaces and clients often ask if they need a WETT  (Wood Energy Transfer Technology) inspection.  Some insurers ask for this becasue they are unaware of what a Level 1 WETT Inspection gives them.  Our Inspector provides Solid Fuel Fire Clearance certificates as part of a Home Inspection where required.  This gives you as the client a document which identifies all the specifications required to allow the Insurer to make the call on whether the home is insurable with the exiting fireplace.  A level 1 WETT Inspection really gives no more than this, and often our inspector finds problems with Fireplaces and Chimneys that are not even detected as part of a WETT inspection.

If your insurer is unsure ask them to call us and we will talk to them to discuss the issues.