It’s true, not all inspectors are loved by everyone. Some find that inspectors are too nit-picky and as a result feel the real estate deal fell apart because of this…ah, if it were only that simple.
The fact is a good inspector should document what they see on an inspection no matter how small. They do this for a number of good reasons. The items discovered may require further monitoring by the homeowner over time or they simply may need to put these maintenance items in their Saturday morning job jar or to-do list. More importantly, these seemingly insignificant items may be symptomatic of something larger going on in the home. For example, here are some observations you might find in an inspector’s report:
- Door binds when opening / closing in the master bedroom
- Floor slopes slightly in the living room
- Archway opening not square from the kitchen to the dining room
- Treads on stairs to 2nd floor are not level
Individually, the above items may seem pretty innocuous however collectively (or not perhaps) they may also be an indicator that the foundation has moved / settled, there is deflection in the support beams or floor joists, and or that the support posts / columns have moved. They are listed in the report as such as the inspector may not be able to ascertain anything further than this through his limited visual & non-destructive inspection. As such, the inspector wants to caution his client and may refer them onto other qualified professionals for further evaluation. Seems straight forward enough, and is not dissimilar to what you would want your doctor to do if listening to your heart and then wanted to send you onto a heart specialist for a second opinion.
Okay, well perhaps you found that example too obvious. So, what about an inspector who has this in their report:
- Unsecured wiring in the basement & attic
- Missing cover plate on the family room light switch
- Ungrounded receptacle in the laundry room
- Surface mounted wiring not contained within a wall cavity or in a conduit in rec. room?
Each of the above items are likely a simple fix and would cost little to remedy. So why include them in an inspection report? Almost everything associated with an electrical defect is a fire / shock hazard. No one wants to have to face this as left unattended to it could spell disaster. It is also an indicator that the electrical work was not professionally done and that permits for the work were not obtained / inspected by the authorities (if / where required). One need only look at the Fire Statistics from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office to realize the importance electrical fires have.
Okay, still not convinced? Here are some other examples:
- No widow present in the basement bedroom
- Security bars on the basement windows are bolted on
- Hot water heater located in bathroom next to shower
- Gas log lighter in wood-burning fireplace
- Clothes dryer exhausts into attached garage
Each of the above items may seem insignificant at first glance, but could ultimately kill the occupants of the home. Whether it’s the improper means of egress from a home in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the improperly installed appliances it’s not enough to just be aware of these safety concerns. They must be corrected to be made safe.
How about now, convinced?
All these examples may seem trivial art first blush. The defects themselves may currently be in varying degrees of severity too…and not yet at a catastrophic level. Nevertheless, their importance cannot be understated when the potential ramifications can be far reaching. Even if this is ultimately not the case, clients want a list of defects no matter how minor they are so they have a go-to-place for upcoming maintenance. That includes painting, caulking and the likes too. After all, you’d want your auto mechanic to find everything that was wrong with that used care before you bought it, including any burnt out light bulbs that meant it won’t pass a safety check!
It should also be pointed out that a list of defects in the inspector’s report does not automatically mean that the vendor is responsible to repair them or compensate the buyer for them…although it’s possible it may be a negotiating item. Most times you’re not going to want the vendor to affect any repairs to the home and will choose to do them yourself. As a homebuyer, you need to equip yourself with skilled professionals that can calmly lead you through what condition the home is in, detail any work that’s required and how best to go about getting the home ready for you to live in.
If you’re a homebuyer, look for detailed, objective, uncompromised & thorough home inspector before you buy…or you know, one of those nit-picking home inspectors 🙂