Buying a house is an important step, so you should be 100% sure that you know WHAT you buy. What should your home inspection checklist in Canada look like, and what areas need EXTRA attention? Read in this guide.
What is Home Inspection
A home inspection is a method of inspecting a house for defects, required repairs, and maintenance needs. It’s a comprehensive inspection of all major systems and components in the house to ensure that they are in proper working condition, and it is done by a professional home inspector.
Different Types of Home Inspections
There are two types of home inspections: restricted inspection and comprehensive inspection.
The restricted inspection is conducted when you already have an accepted offer from a seller for your current home or you’re selling a property. Normally, you can find more about the inspection in the written offer or by talking with your Realtor.
A comprehensive home inspection is the most detailed type that is done when you’re buying a new house. The inspector will check each and every small area in the house, making sure that everything is working properly and safe for you and for your family.
Is Home Inspection Necessary?
It’s a complicated thing, because sometimes you ARE required to do a home inspection, and sometimes you are not. It all depends on your contract and the deal type. SOme lenders require a home inspection before approving a mortgage. Some do not. It should not be the main decision driver, though. You need to rely on common sense more than legal requirements.
For example, if you’re getting a contract on a house that is 50 years old, you might want to do at least the first inspection check on your own. With a house of that age, there ARE some issues that can be found and subsequently addressed.
In most situations, the question is not whether you SHOULD do a home inspection. The question is — whether you WANT and NEED it, or not.
Reasons to Get a Home Inspection
While “just to be sure” seems to be the most obvious reason — there’s more to it than it seems. Here are some arguments that you could’ve missed:
- Easier insurance. When you’re purchasing a house, the home buyer’s policy usually covers the house only until the date you move in. If there are any major structural defects that were not detected by an inspection, then you’ll have problems with your insurance company;
- Pay a lot less tax. If there are any repairs required, you can instead choose to use tax credits to repair them. This will save you a lot of money and headache, and you can do it all by yourself. For example, if there’s a major roof damage and you replace the whole thing — then you can get several thousands of dollars in tax credits;
- No responsibility claims. This is one of the most important aspects that should be considered when purchasing a home inspection. If anything goes wrong after moving in, you can prove that it was already like that before the purchase. This way, you won’t be responsible for any damages;
- Bring the price down. When you buy a house — you obviously don’t want to overpay fr it. A proper inspection will give you more arguments for negotiating the price. If you find that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done — you can ask the seller to pay for fixing those issues OR agree to do it yourself, but include your future expenses in the discount;
- Have a better understanding of your new house. When you see a house for the first time, it is hard to imagine what’s going on inside of it. A home inspection will give you a chance to walk around and look at all major components, helping you make a final decision.
Full Home Inspection Checklist
A typical Canadian private sector house is not just a bunch of rooms, walls, floor, and a ceiling. It’s a complicated mechanism, full of communications and hidden systems. The Devil is in the details — this phrase sums up the home inspection approach perfectly.
Just walking around and looking for obvious damages won’t help — you need a FULL inspection. It all starts when you enter the property, not even the house itself. First — check the outside of the house. You might need a ladder for it!
Outside Inspection Checklist
- The yard and the ground of the property (is it even? is there standing water anywhere? Is it damaged?);
- Driveway (should be even, plain, not cracked, should not have any holes;
- Roof condition, materials, and repairing status (look for mold, cracked tiles, insects);
- Chimney (condition, materials, does it need cleaning/maintenance);
- Gutters (do they need cleaning or not, are there any clogs, are materials not rotten or falling apart, are there any cracks);
- Electricity and water faucets (are they in good condition, no signs of bad repairing or last-minute fixing?);
- Paint, siding, or other exterior decorative materials of the house (is it looking good? Or is it flaking off, looking “tired”, decaying? Maybe it’s so old that it contains toxic materials, like lead?);
- House foundation (should be even and have zero signs of cracks);
- Doors and the garage door (check the hinges, the garage door mechanism, the wires, the door condition itself);
- Air conditioner (should look clean and fully functional, no leaks or weird sounds);
- Ventilation (check all the holes and grills for insects, mold, or clogs).
Sometimes sellers strategically place covers, technic, cars, or even whole garden figures over the “troubled” areas. Make sure you can move everything and check the surface itself.
Inside the House Inspection Checklist
Now — time to enter the house. We’ll go room by room. These are the things that need your attention on the inside:
In the Kitchen:
- Steam-less cooktops;
- Hot water heaters;
- Garbage disposals;
- Sink (water flow should be strong, no leaks, no weird sounds);
- Plumbing (should be clean and well-maintained, no glue or shady wet spots around);
- Electrical outlets;
- Tiles condition (no cracks/irregularities);
- Switches (including the space behind them);
- Outlet covers;
- Junction boxes;
- Lighting / GFCIs;
- Light bulbs;
- Lighting fixtures;
- Door openings & closings;
- Devices & hardware (if there are any, ask for documentation on them as well);
- Hinges (inside and outside the drawers).
In the Bathroom:
- Plumbing drains;
- Flooring conditions (no cracks, no peeling);
- Bathtub/shower combo (look for leaks);
- Water pressure regulator;
- Faucets & showerheads;
- Toilet flushing mechanism;
- Clear water tank cover (no rust/algae buildup).
In the Living Room:
- Cracks or peeling in the flooring;
- Wallpaper/paint condition (peeling, mold, cracks, it would be good to ask what type of paint was used (some cheaper ones could be toxic), how old the paint is and what’s underneath it);
- Ceiling fans (no unusual noises, no leaks);
- Heating and cooling system (no weird sounds, documentation, warranty, materials, where they were cleaned the last time);
- Centers and sofas condition (bugs, mold, stains);
- Ceiling lighting (check the wires and fasteners, if there are any);
- Beds and bedding condition;
- Tight closings of windows;
- Windows screens (check the glass as well, even slightest cracks or dents can be a big issue if extreme weather conditions will come).
In the Bedrooms:
- Windows (no leaks, no cracks);
- Ceiling fans;
- Electrical outlets & switches;
- Stairways build quality;
- Squeaking floor (yikes);
- Baseboards/skirting boards condition;
- Ceiling lighting;
- Ceiling fans.
In the Basement:
- Stairs build quality;
- Framing support logs;
- Wood structures condition;
- Foundation (no cracks, no holes).
General Inside the House Inspection
Next few points are not room-specific, but even when you walk from one room to another — your attention should be concentrated on things that might be a problem in your future house. Here’s a home inspection checklist for the general things:
- Check for uneven floor levels (you can use a phone app for it);
- Check the regularity of passways;
- Talk to the owners about refurbishments/redevelopments;
- Check the smoke detectors (are they working? Are they set up properly in terms of legal regulations?);
- Check the doors/walls/ceilings angle;
- Check wiring (extra carefully, wiring is the primary reason for fires).
Now, walk around and look at the things again. Are you satisfied with the inspection results? Are there any critical details that you can’t accept in your new house, or is everything nice and good? Is the seller looking nervous?
Don’t hesitate to check everything again — you’re paying a lot of money for the place and you’ll spend a lot of time in it, maybe your kids will do as well.
Make sure to ask all the questions about all the issues and discuss the price and repair in advance. “I’ll deal with it myself” might not be the best approach here: you sure will, but why would you do it if there’s a chance to lower the price or get the previous owner to solve all the problems?
Home Inspection Canada — The Professional Way
There’s a pretty good chance that all of the above looks way too complicated for you. The solution? Just hire a professional home inspector. This way you solve a lot of problems:
- Professional inspectors understand the system and the laws enough to make sure they don’t violate them while conducting an inspection. They can go in-depth with details like code violations (they should be available everywhere) and make sure all the conditions will comply with it;
- You save time: you don’t need to walk around with a checklist and check every room or each device by yourself;
- When you hire someone you can trust, you save your time AND money. You don’t need to go around and check everything on your own with your “rookie” approach, and you don’t need to “re-check” the house after the professional report. It’s one of the most important aspects of hiring a professional, and it’s also one of the best benefits;
- You can be sure that a professional home inspector acts in YOUR interest. They won’t listen to the owner’s excuses (they’ve heard it all) and the owner just can’t “outbid” the inspector to ignore critical issues;
- Professional home inspectors in Canada are… well, professional. They know what the very beginning of a serious mold problem may look like, know how to distinguish last-minute quick-fixed plumbing and a good, working one. They do the inspections for the living and probably know the local houses and their “weak spots” way better than you.
Professional Home Inspection Price
The cost of a detailed home inspection in Canada on average ranges from $350-$450 on average, though it depends on the size of the home being inspected. However, you might get a discount if you are buying multiple houses. You also need to know that you can choose a one-time inspection or annual inspection. The second option is obviously slightly cheaper.
How to Choose the Right Home Inspector
Yeah, unfortunately, not every “professional” is actually a good one. To be 100% sure about the quality of your home inspection, first, you need to hire a really good specialist. This means that you should not just look at the price, but also take a look at their past customers and check for reviews. Some home inspectors have “bad” reputations because they have been caught cheating in the past and if the inspection failed you might lose your house over it. Check for certification: it’s not that important, but it can show that the inspector has at least some theoretical knowledge about the field. Also, check the website for contact information or recommendations.
Home Inspection Advice and FAQ
Yes, you can walk around with the inspector if you hire one, but you’re not required to. You’ll get the detailed report anyway, probably with pictures of the most questionable things. We still recommend attending the home inspection, though: you’ll see everything for yourself, and since you pay for it — you’ll be able to ask all the questions that might be useful in the future.
No, you should NOT trust a home inspection report that the house owner might show you. Some home inspectors are malicious scam players that just email the “perfect” report without even showing up at the property. To be absolutely sure about the issue — check it all yourself.
Yes, home inspectors work with flats and condos as well. They work with any type of the properties. With a condo inspection, you need to do more paperwork (check the building history, check the legal things), but a home inspection is still a good idea.
No, a “new” house is not an excuse to skip the inspection. Even if it looks new and great, you still need to check all the major and minor details. Why’d you trust the construction company more than you trust a person that lived in the house before you?
The Bottom Line
A very important thing about an inspection is that it should be done before any offer is made to buy the house. This would be the best way to avoid any hidden problems that could arise during the inspection or just as a result of the inspection. If there is some major structural damage, you would probably end up paying for something that you weren’t even supposed to pay for.
You can conduct a home inspection yourself, but it might not be the best idea.
It’s good if you occasionally help your parents or friends to check things when they repair their houses, but doing it on your own with a real house is like trying to be a doctor in an emergency situation after watching some YouTube first aid guides.