By Geoff Kirbyson
Buying a home will be the biggest purchase you make in your lifetime so do yourself a favour and get a home inspection before you sign off on your offer.
Experts agree the amount of money you’ll pay for having an accredited inspector give your would-be dream home a thorough once-over will be worth it.
Don’t believe us? Consider the average price of a home sold in Winnipeg in 2017 was $280,439 so the $500 to $1,000 you shell out to a home inspector is a fraction of one per cent of the total outlay.
In fact, it’s practically a rounding error, so get off your wallet already.
Because the soil conditions can vary widely from one part of Winnipeg to another, getting a home inspection is an important step in understanding how to maintain your new home, said Marcia Bergen, Realtor.
“In Manitoba, buying a home is caveat emptor, buyer beware. If you didn’t get a home inspection and you find a problem with your home later on, you’re probably screwed. The onus is on the buyer to do the due diligence,” she said.
In fact, even if you discovered that the vendor lied to you in a property disclosure statement or covered up a major flaw in the house and didn’t tell you about it before you bought the place and you didn’t have a home inspection, you’re looking at a minimum of $10,000 to take them to court, she said.
The decision whether to get a home inspection is ultimately the buyer’s choice, said Chris Dudeck, president of WinnipegREALTORs and Realtor. Getting one can help you sleep well at night, he said.
“For people who aren’t comfortable proceeding without one, it gives them peace of mind that there won’t be any surprises for the first little while after they move into their new home,” he said.
Not only that, but a home inspection is also a great tool for new home buyers to budget for their near-term maintenance costs.
“If the shingles on the roof aren’t brand new but they’re not in need of replacement yet, a home inspector can say how much life is left in them so you can plan a few years down the road for a roof replacement,” he said.
It also doesn’t hurt to hear an expert’s opinion of, well, everything, in your new home.
“(Walking through) with a home inspector is a great tutorial on home maintenance. Even if they find a minor repair, they’ll describe how to do that repair and advise you on what could go wrong if the repair isn’t done,” he said.
So, how do you pick a home inspector from the phone book? Dudeck recommends calling the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors to check in with them.
“If you’re in a competing offer situation, the fewer the conditions on your offer, the more attractive it is to the seller. A home inspection definitely makes your offer less competitive,”
That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck but it will require you to get creative. Dudeck said if the buyers have a specific offer date, you can ask them to allow a home inspector inside beforehand.
“Then you can write their offer without the clause because they’ve already had it done,“ he said.
There are other benefits to having a home inspector, including running the serial numbers on your appliances to see if any recalls have been announced on them.
Any inspector who is willing to conduct a home inspection for less than $500 should probably be avoided like the plague, Bergen said.
You can also purchase different levels of home inspection. For example, if you suspect your would-be home may have had a water problem at some point, you can pay an additional fee to the home inspector to test for higher-than-normal moisture levels or mould.
“Some of the inspectors have cameras to see through the foundation walls or through any cracking to find any kind of moisture in a wall. That’s very helpful in our climate,” she said.