When you do an inspection, whose side are you on?

Simply put, I work for my client (typically a buyer or seller) and I do not have any affiliation or association with anyone else. My duty is to my client.

I directly report what I find. I do not report in favor of (or against) a buyer, seller or agent. As per Alberta law, my reports are unbiased and are fact based. I do not deal with monetary values; I only report on condition/status. I don’t give you recommendations on whether you should or should not purchase – this is not my place as an inspector. I only provide facts about the condition of the home. Each person has a different tolerance on what is or is not acceptable. I let you make the decision (as is intended by Provincial regulations).

I will, however, provide you with my concerns, if there are any, and with some idea of what issues you might have to deal with moving forward (what you should expect in the near future, should you purchase). Also remember that it is your choice as to who you use as an inspector. Some realtors will recommend an inspector. There’s nothing wrong with this, but make sure you investigate that inspector and make sure they are licensed, as is required in Alberta.

I adhere to the InterNACHI standards of practice which you can view here.

Here’s a link to Service Alberta information about home inspection.

Are you licensed?

Yes, I am licensed, bonded and insured with the Province of Alberta. My Alberta Registered Home Inspector’s license number is: 335892.

Does anybody regulate home inspectors?

Yes, similar to most trades, Service Alberta governs home inspectors in Alberta. Ensure your home inspector has a license!!!

Do you follow any sort of regulations, guidelines or code of conduct?

Yes, all licensed inspectors in Alberta are required to belong to an association that is sanctioned by the Province. I belong to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These associations require that an inspector retest/re-certify each year and that they complete a required number of hours of ongoing training each year. In order to maintain a license, inspectors must maintain this association membership. Ensure your inspector has a license!!!

I adhere to the InterNACHI standards of practice which you can view here.

How long does an inspection take?

I typically arrive 30 minutes before the time we agree upon to inspect the outside (and roof in summer) before you arrive. From the time we agree upon, inspection typically takes about two to two-and-a-half hours if the home was built within the last 30 years. However, older homes can take longer due to more issues/concerns depending on maintenance and upkeep. I recommend planning on three hours for older homes, as there will likely be much to discuss.

Do you use multiple inspectors?

No, I complete the inspection personally, and by myself. Some of my competitors send two inspectors, but then they also charge you double the price. To some, this works.

I encourage my customers to follow me around and ask me questions/voice their concerns. I work on a very personal level with my customers. It’s pretty difficult to follow two inspectors around.

Do you use infra-red (thermal) inspection, and what is it?

I include infra-red inspection (otherwise known as thermal imaging) with each full inspection. I am a certified thermographer through the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). The infra-red device is a camera that portraits temperatures as an image. The device is a receiver (just like a regular camera) and does not give off any signals or transmissions – so is safe for people and pets alike.

The camera shows areas of heat and cold and does not “see through walls.” Because of the way images are displayed, some people get the impression that it sees through walls. This is not the case and anyone who tells you it does, obviously has had no training on the device.
In general, I’m looking for areas of cold surfaces. When I find them, I test the area with a moisture meter to confirm the presence of moisture.

It can also show me excessively hot-burning circuits in the electrical system.

Infra-red is a helpful tool, but is just one tool in my kit. It is by no means perfect and does not reveal things likes cracks in the foundation or leaking pipes. Rather, it can show me where water has already penetrated (leaving a cold spot) which may then lead to finding a crack or a leak.

But understand that the camera doesn’t show you what’s behind a wall. It only shows me the temperature of the surface of the wall or ceiling. So when you see an image that shows the studs in a wall, for example, you’re not seeing through the wall – what you’re seeing is the surface temperature of the wall where the stud touches is colder than the surrounding areas.

What is a home inspection?

Simply put, it’s my job to thoroughly investigate the home and summarize its condition in a report. For many people, buying a home is the biggest single investment they will ever make. A home inspection should be a part of every real estate transaction. It is the best way to ensure that everyone is protected.

What’s involved in a home inspection and what do you check?

Using software, I build the report which touches on over 300 points of inspection. I typically start in the basement with an investigation of the electrical system and then work my way up through the home, finishing in the attic. Here’s a quick overview of what I’ll check:

  • Electrical: Investigate supply, breaker box, wiring and test receptacles throughout the home.
  • Plumbing: Test sump pump, investigate main water supply and plumbing system from basement, test fixtures and drainage by filling up sinks and checking for leaks and check overflow systems. Investigate caulking and sealing around tubs and showers, run dishwasher to check for leakage.
  • Main home, built-in appliances: Investigate the hot water tank, furnace/boiler system and related ductwork. Test (in appropriate weather conditions) central air conditioning, gas fireplaces. Note that wood-burning fireplaces are regulated in Alberta by Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) and a separate WETT inspection is required every 10 years for insurance requirements. I do not currently do WETT inspections. My investigation is visual only.
  • Roofing and drainage system: (Note that in winter in Alberta, I do not walk roofs in snow or frost conditions) including yard drainage as well as eaves trough/downspout systems. In some rare cases, roofs can be inaccessible due to excessive angle or height.
  • Living spaces: Investigate each living area of the home, testing windows, doors, receptacles and visually inspect for issues or concerns.
  • Attic: I inspect the attic from the hatch. While I am not able to walk the roof in winter, the real story of what’s going on with the roof can often be found in the attic.
  • Structure: Throughout my inspection, I look for structural issues or concerns.
  • Maintenance: Every home is an ongoing maintenance project, when you purchase a home, you are jumping into a maintenance schedule that is somewhere along the way (even if it’s brand new). I try to give you some idea of what types of maintenance items you might have to deal with in both the short and long term.
  • Thermal (infra-red) inspection: I include infra-red inspection (otherwise known as thermal imaging) with each full inspection. This can help find areas of leakage that are not visible to the eye and/or areas of missing insulation.

What is a pre-sale inspection and why would I do that?

Home sellers also gain peace of mind by investing in a thorough certified home inspection prior to putting a house up for sale. The last-minute discovery of problems by a prospective buyer can lead to time delays, added expenses and can even derail a deal altogether. Your best solution as a home seller is to have a thorough certified inspection done prior to putting the house on the market. This allows you to take care of issues with the building before they become a problem in negotiating a deal. Or, at the very least, you will be aware of an issue and have pre-decided how you will deal with that issue if the subject comes up.

Here’s a real-world example: 

I performed a pre-purchase inspection on a four-year-old townhouse where I found that the bathroom fan and stove ventilator piping in the attic were not connected to the roof vents (never were). This was missed when the place was built new and had been this way ever since. The homeowner had no idea and some damage had resulted – there were giant icicles hanging from the open holes in the roof and huge snow drifts in the attic.

As is typical, the inspection I did was completed only a couple of days from conditions being removed from the deal. This deal fell through as the buyers wanted this fixed prior to purchase. You don’t want to find out at the 11th hour that there’s something major wrong that needs fixing. Most people have never even looked in their attic, and often wouldn’t know what they’re looking for if they did.

Some advantages to a pre-sale inspection:

  • Facilitates a faster sale for more money.
  • Eliminates last minute fall-throughs or 11th hour re-negotiations.
  • Being aware of existing issues gives you the chance to address them now with competitive pricing.
  • Provides confidence that you are giving full disclosure of the condition of your home, and reduces your liability.
  • Protects your from over-inflated buyer-procured estimates.
  • I work with you on the final report if there are items you wish to repair.
  • Provides purchasers the comfort of an unbiased 3rd party opinion.
  • You can assist the inspector during the inspection, unlike the purchaser's inspection.

Do you perform new home warranty expiring inspections?

Yes, this is a great reason to have a standard home inspection done. I will examine your home’s structure, mechanical and electrical systems to identify defects and other problems before they become your problems.

Most new homes come with a standard one-year warranty against building materials and workmanship.

Unfortunately, problems often occur after the warranty has expired. Such problems can be a real nightmare. Don’t let a contractor’s mistakes or negligence make your life miserable: protect yourself and your investment! I’ll investigate and make sure that your home was built to code and to standard.