It’s what’s inside that counts. Just ask your realtor.
“You fall in love with something and you see what’s in front of you, but a home inspector can get to the nitty-gritty of a place, like the mechanics and structure,” says Tatiana Londono, founder of Chartered Real Estate Agents at Londono Realty Group and host of HGTV’s Property Shop. “Hiring a home inspector can avoid all sorts of headaches.”
Home inspection is a crucial step in the home buying process. But an inspection is only as good as the inspector. “The number one mistake I see people make is looking for the house before the home inspector,” says Mike Holmes of Holmes on Homes and author of The Holmes Inspection. “It’s like getting the trailer before the horse. When you find the house that you like, usually it’s down to crunch time and you’re willing to hire anyone that’s got a pulse to come in and do an inspection.”
So start inspecting early. There are plenty of ways to go about finding a good home inspector. Sandra Rinomato, host of HGTV’s Property Virgins, suggests going on the recommendation of a realtor but acknowledges that this can be sticky. Realtors routinely deal with home inspectors and have first-hand knowledge of their work. But there can be conflicts of interest.
“Sometimes agents are in with their inspectors and they’ll make an inspection pass,” says Londono. “But a lot of times buyers have no idea how to look for an inspector.”
To avoid liabilities, both Londono and Rinomato provide the names of three to five home inspectors they’ve worked with in the past and let their clients make the final choice.
Here’s where your own inspection comes in. Whether going on a recommendation or picking up the Yellow Pages, the key is to ask questions.
“Ask 1,001 questions,” says Holmes. “How long have you been in the business? What did you specialize in before? Do you have a background in building, and if so, what is it? How long were you doing that? Can I have a sample report of what you’ve given someone else?”
For Holmes, it’s getting inside that counts: “If they say all I need is a flashlight, a ladder and a notepad, that’s not good enough … I use thermographic imaging cameras, air quality tools, snake cameras that can go through every little crevasse that a mouse can. If they have tools like this, it excites me. It means that they care.”
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Mike Holmes is looking for homeowners who have had bad home inspections and are now faced with repairs they didn’t anticipate. Go to www.makeitright.ca, and you could end up on TV.