A home inspection is a must-do when you’re looking to buy real estate, and there are different considerations to keep in mind for single family homes versus condos.
Jan Stuehler of Lighthouse Inspections tells us what to look out for when considering a condo inspection.
Why is it advantageous to get a condo inspection?
Just like in the purchase of a vehicle or an expensive piece of art or jewelry, it makes sense to do your due diligence. Is the value there? Will it require lots of expensive repairs and is it a sound investment that will continue to go up in equity? Those are some of the obvious answers; however in today’s market an inspection can bring insight into a purchase offer so as to not overpay. It can strengthen an offer and make it unconditional. Lastly an inspection serves as a maintenance guide for ongoing repairs and monitoring of appliances or finishes in home.
What does the condo inspection look like?
I hear quite often from people what on earth are you looking at, it’s only 1000 square feet! Actually some of my condo inspections can be more involved then a single family home. Not only does a good inspector look at the unit, they will typically inspect as much of the common areas and mechanical closets, roof, attic and underground parking that is allowed by access. There are some great companies out there that review the strata documents for you as well (a smart pre-purchase investment) home inspectors are not typically insured to review minutes however most of us are happy to review mentioned deficiencies and compare them to what is in front of us.
I have had instances where a less then honest roofing company used poor quality materials and sub par workmanship and then instead of repairing it properly, just patched it until the warranty expired. Most reports are clear and concise with colour photos and itemized deficiencies and or observations. I email electronic copies but also happily print and bind for those that ask.
What red flags do you look for?
Living on the West Coast of Canada, moisture damage is a big one for us. I carry a thermal camera and a moisture meter among other things. Water damage is especially important to look for as it causes extensive repair work and remediation. Leaking roofs, plumbing fittings, hot water tanks and blocked drainage pipes are a few of the obvious ones.
Electrical issues is another one I find on nearly every home I inspect, from a minor ungrounded plug or uncovered junction box, to major shock hazards or fire starter potential. I have an extensive building background but it’s my constant day to day inspection that keeps me sharp. I hear “oh, I have a handyman or contractor friend that will inspect it for us.” I can walk two steps in to a home and can instantly smell mold or rats or even tell you right away if its a quick flip, built well or a DIY nightmare from the finishes. How? It’s because of repetition and ongoing training.
I recommend you do your research on finding the right inspector as well as possible issues with your home’s construction age. Big ticket items need special focus: moisture ingress in parkade, roof condition, elevator operation and exterior cladding. Is there aluminum wiring? Possible asbestos in ducts, drywall exterior or insulation? Possibility of Poly B plumbing? You’ll need to understand how all these items may or may not affect your budget, insurance and health.
What are common issues you’ve discovered?
Pests are a big one here. Ants, silverfish, rats, mice and wasps.
I find lots of failing hot water tanks and foundation moisture from broken, blocked or missing perimeter drains, or poor insulation, or in many cases poor ventilation resulting in mold or moisture staining. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. I get to see a lot of beautiful properties and really feel that one of the most fulfilling parts of my job is the in person walk throughs in which we explain how the house works and where to find things as well as how to keep up with home and property.
I have many interesting stories about finding long lost jewelry boxes or guns in attics and secret panic rooms even the seller was not aware about, or creepy ghost stories and amazing history about the site or home. These are just a few of the reasons that I love my job and feel that having this passion for the industry helps me be the best I can be in keeping my clients safe and informed in today’s real estate market.
How do you choose a qualified home inspector?
Similar to hiring a realtor, you might consider interviewing a few inspectors before choosing one. It’s important to ensure they’re licensed. An inspector might carry a license from Home Inspector Association BC or Consumer Protection BC.