After more than 30 years as a realtor in the Ottawa area, I still love to share the excitement when my buyer clients have a “wow” moment when they walk into a house and decide that this could be the home for them.

Sometimes I see it almost as soon we walk through the door. When those oohs and ahs keep coming as we go from room to room, I’m not surprised when they tell me, sometimes before we’ve even finished the tour, that they are ready to make an offer.

But as much as you might love the look and feel of a property, I always recommend that you make your offer conditional on the report of an experienced home inspector who will inspect a property on your behalf and draw attention to any issues they find that need addressing by the seller.

When we buy a house or condominium apartment, most of us are making the most expensive purchase of our lives. It makes sense to know as much as possible about the condition of that property. The fee you pay the inspector for his or her work can be money well spent, as it can sometimes save you the cost of a repair that wouldn’t have been obvious on a casual stroll through the home.

Just as you will have a real estate lawyer working for you to ensure that the seller’s ownership documents and other legal elements of the transaction are in order, you should have an experienced home inspector check out the condition of the home and its many systems, including heating, electrical, plumbing and ventilation and elements such as flooring, windows, doors, roofing and downspouts.

At Nancy Benson & Associates, we give our buyer clients an extensive information package to help educate you about the buying process. The package includes a detailed booklet from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) about hiring a home inspector, how the inspection process works and what you can expect in an inspector’s report.

When you have reached the stage of making an offer, my team and I are happy to help you arrange an inspection.

We can give you the names of several experienced and qualified inspectors who have worked with our other buyers, and we can book one for you at a time that works for you and for the home seller.

We have worked with many experienced inspectors who are members of provincial associations, such as the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. We can help find one to suit the needs of each buyer, as every buyer and property have distinctive needs.

That can include booking an inspector who is also certified for WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) inspections, if the property has a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove. It’s recommended that anyone buying a home with a wood-burning fireplace get such an inspection on top of the regular inspection of other elements.

As the buyer, you pay the fee for the home inspection. Depending on the size and style of the property, the cost usually ranges from about $350 to $475 or more, with additional charges for specific additional inspections, such as a WETT inspection, which will usually add an extra hour or more to the inspection.

A general inspection takes about three hours, but can be longer for a larger home or if additional services are requested.

The CMHC recommends that whenever possible, you accompany the inspector on the visit and ask questions along the way. As you go through the house together, the inspector can help you to understand and become familiar with the different components of the property and point out and explain any concerns he or she might have.

The inspector will provide a written report based on what he or she has found. As the CMHC explains as well, it’s important to note than an inspection is visual and is not intended to provide a buyer with a guarantee of any kind. But a detailed inspection can find things that need attention and can then be addressed by the seller.

Many buyers who have fallen in love with a property are naturally a bit nervous during the inspection. They often tell me they don’t want to hear of any major problems that would call off the sale. In my experience, it’s very rare that an inspector will find an issue so serious that the buyer decides to back out and withdraw an offer. In the rare times that has happened, the buyer at least recognizes that it was better to know about it before a purchase rather than after!

What happens more often is that an inspector might find a few things that need repairs, such as a leaky toilet or tap or a window or bathtub that needs caulking.

With the inspector’s information and detailed written report of the findings, you can request that the seller repair or replace any components before the sale goes through. In these cases, the seller will book a repair and is expected to provide written proof of the work to show you that it’s been done.

If the inspector finds something that requires more costly work, such as a roof shingles that needs immediate replacement, we can consider asking for a reduction in the sales price or requesting that the Seller remedy the problem found at their expense.  Most properties do have some maintenance items that should be taken into account at the onset of negotiations and generally a renegotiation occurs on the “larger ticket” deficiencies that come up on the inspection.

Aside from elements that need addressing immediately, an inspector can also give you a road map about upcoming maintenance work that you would expect in the next few years, so you can be aware of it and try to put some money aside. The inspector might, for example, let you know that while the furnace is working perfectly fine, it might need to be replaced in five years or so.

As you can see, the cost of a home inspector can pay off, not just in the cost of repairs but in giving you valuable background information that will come in handy when the house you love becomes your home.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you about the current market and the services we offer at Nancy Benson and Associates. You can contact me through my website, at www.nancybenson.com, where you can also view my current listings and read about the services we offer buyers and sellers. You can also give me a call, at 613-747-4747.