Buying a Home: Pre-Purchase Inspections

Legal News

Thinking of buying a home? Inspecting it first can be a good idea.

Why do an inspection before buying a home?

When an offer to purchase is made to a seller, it often includes an inspection clause. This is an important stage in the process: it means you can do a visual inspection of the home to identify defects.  This helps you to detect problems you might have missed when visiting on your own. If the inspector finds problems,  you might be able to re-negotiate the sales price or, in some cases, even withdraw your offer to purchase.

Note: A home inspection does not guarantee there are no defects!  It will not catch hidden defects, but may pick up signs of them.

What is the role of the home inspector?

A pre-purchase inspection involves a visual examination of the house. The inspector will not, for example, drill a hole in the wall to check for mould or humidity problems. The inspector must point out potential problems and include them in a written report.

You don’t have to hire a home inspector. But the law does say you have to act carefully. This means you must be alert to any signs that should make you do  a more in-depth inspection.  You have no special knowledge about construction? You’re looking to buy an older home? The sale is being made without any guarantee as to the home’s condition? It’s probably wise to call upon an expert to make sure you’re not missing anything important!

How to choose a home inspector?

There’s no professional association that watches over home inspectors. There’s no required training. They don’t need a permit either. So, anyone can call themselves a home inspector!

So, how do you find a good one?

There are several associations of home inspectors that have codes of ethics and rules to guide home inspectors.

You can also hire an inspector who is a member of a professional association, for example l’Ordre des architectes du Québec (order of architects)  l’Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec  (order of building evaluators) or l’Ordre des technologues professionnels du Québec (order of technologists).  These associations protect the public, for example, by ensuring their members have insurance to cover mistakes.

Note: the government has proposed a law that would give the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (building regulation board) the power to oversee home inspections and issue certificates to home inspectors. Stay tuned for updates!