FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A home inspection is a comprehensive visual examination of the home’s overall structure, major systems, and components. As a trained and qualified home inspector, I will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another. Components that are observed to not be performing properly will be identified, as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. The purpose of the home inspection is to provide you the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.
Consumer Protection BC states “A home inspection is an educational process which is designed to reduce a consumer’s risk when buying a home, and is not a guarantee or a warranty on a property”.
A typical home inspection has numerous elements. First, there is the site visit and then the inspection itself. The inspection is followed by a verbal review with the client when ever possible.
The detailed written report following the inspection is completed back at the office and it is typically delivered by email within 24 hours of leaving the inspection site.
Typical House Inspection – 3 to 4 hours for the inspection plus a verbal summary following the inspection.
Typical Townhouse or Condo Inspection – 2 to 3 hours for the inspection plus a verbal summary following the inspection.
Depending on the size, age and condition of the house, timelines can vary significantly. It is critical that the inspector has ready access to all areas and/or systems. If certain areas are inaccessible, the client may need to reschedule and pay for a return visit to the site
A typical home inspection starts at around $475+GST. However, some factors will affect the fee such as square footage and travel out of our service area. Price should not be the deciding factor when selecting a home inspector. The qualifications and credentials of the inspector, as well as your comfort level with the home inspector should be what guides your choice.
Give us a call, chat with Matthew and receive a specific quote for the property you wish to have inspected.
Your home inspection report will include photos and detailed explanations of all the major systems of the property, as well as a general summary that details the most notable items from the inspection that require more immediate or additional attention.
Are you considering a renovation? A home inspection can help you prioritize repairs and maintenance. A pre-renovation inspection equals money spent in the right places.
Are you selling a home? Show prospective purchasers that every effort has been made to disclose the condition of the home. A listing inspection may help simplify and speed up the selling process.
Most importantly are you buying a home? A pre-purchase home inspection can provide you with the information you need to know about the condition of the house you plan to purchase. More information equals an informed purchase decision, which equals fewer surprises. Minimize the risk to your investment. No one wants to face serious, unexpected costs shortly after purchase.
An appraiser will usually spend less than 1 hour in the property and give you their opinion on the market value of the property by viewing the general condition of the property and comparing it to adjacent properties.
A home inspector will typically spend more than 3 hours in the property and give you a complete physical assessment of the building system and components as well as a detailed written report to inform your home buying decision.
We inspect the major systems of the house. These include the roof, exterior, structure, electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing, insulation, and interior.
Our goal is to identify any existing major problems that would affect a typical purchaser’s buying decision. We will add significantly to your knowledge of the home but still cannot tell you everything about the house. All home inspections are entirely visual. No invasive/destructive testing is performed. The inspection and the detailed written report will put you in a much better position to make your decision.
Homeowners should be aware that inspectors cannot move personal effects during the course of an inspection. Here are a few suggestions to prepare a home for an inspection:
Remove any furniture and stored material from around access panels, crawl spaces, attic hatches, electrical panel boxes, furnaces, hot water tanks, and water shut-offs.
If the access panel to the crawl space or attic is in a closet, you might want to remove the clothes from that closet or cover the clothes with a sheet, in order to protect them from bits of insulation and debris that might fall down in the process of removing the access panel.
Over friendly or unfriendly dogs or other family pets can complicate the inspection process and are best kept either away from the house or in a contained space during the inspection.
No. The goal of a home inspection is to report on the condition of the house based on the examination and evaluation of the various systems, indicating potential repairs and areas of concern.
The purpose of the report is to inform your decision, not to be an indictment of the home. Only you can determine whether or not you are comfortable with buying the home.
A home inspection is a professional opinion based on less-than-complete information. It’s a little like getting a check-up from your doctor: It improves your odds of good health but there is no guarantee or warranty.
Some problems can only be discovered by living in a house – they cannot be discovered during a home inspection. For example, some shower stalls leak when people use the shower but don’t leak when you simply turn on the shower. Some roofs and basements only leak when specific weather conditions exist. Some problems will only be discovered when carpets are lifted, furniture is moved or finishes are removed. As such, Aware Home Inspections cannot and does not offer a warranty on the house.
No. We focus strictly on home inspections. It would be a conflict of interest for a home inspector to perform repairs or renovations on a home that they have inspected. We offer an unbiased opinion on the condition of the home and accept no referral fees from anyone.
Aware Home inspections only offer residential home inspections at this time. However, with our commitment to continued education, we plan to offer ancillary services in the future.
In most BC homes built prior to 1990, the presence of some building materials with asbestos is almost always present. It was commonly used in office buildings, public buildings and schools. It insulated hot water heating systems and was put into walls and ceilings as insulation against fire and sound. It has also been found in many products around the house: clapboard; shingles and felt for roofing; exterior siding; pipe covering; compounds and cement; textured and latex paints; acoustical ceiling tiles and plaster; vinyl floor tiles; and appliance wiring to name a few.
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) cautions “To avoid health risks through prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers, proper precautions must be taken when repairs or renovations disturb asbestos-containing materials, such as disturbing loose-fill vermiculite insulation which may contain asbestos; removing deteriorating roofing shingles and siding containing asbestos; ripping away old asbestos insulation from around a hot water tank; sanding or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles; breaking apart acoustical ceiling tiles containing asbestos; sanding or scraping older water-based asbestos coatings such as roofing compounds, spackling, sealants, paint, putty, caulking or drywall….” Safe practices for handling asbestos can be found at www.worksafebc.com.
Health Canada updated its information on asbestos in June 2015: http:// healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/environment-environnement/air/contaminants/asbestos-amiante-eng.php
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. As a gas, radon is slowly released from the ground, water, and some building materials that contain very small amounts of uranium, such as concrete, bricks, tiles, and gyproc. Radon gas breaks down further to form additional radioactive particles called radon daughters, or “progeny” that can be breathed into the lungs.
Radon cannot be detected by the senses, i.e., it is colorless, odorless and tasteless; however, it can be detected with special instruments.
When radon is released from the ground outside it mixes with fresh air and gets diluted resulting in concentrations too low to be of concern. However, when radon enters an enclosed space, such as a house or basement, it can accumulate to high concentrations and become a health risk.
Radon concentrations fluctuate seasonally, but are usually higher in winter than in summer, and are usually higher at night than during the day. This is because the sealing of buildings (to conserve energy) and the closing of doors and windows (at bedtime), reduce the intake of outdoor air and allow the build-up of radon.
For more information, please visit the Health Canada website at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/ radiation/radon/faq_fq-eng.php
CREA offers the following valuable information: www.crea.ca/sites/default/files/
The installations of wood burning appliances and fireplaces in Canada are covered by very specific codes. Due to the nature of these installations there is significant fire and safety concerns. WETT or Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. is an Association of installers, chimney sweeps, and inspectors who have been educated, trained and certified to install and inspect such installations to ensure they meet the applicable requirements. Here are some instances where a WETT inspection may be required:
- a new installation of a wood burning appliance or fireplace either in new construction or retrofit into an existing building.
- on sale or transfer of property.
- renovations around an existing wood burning installation which could change the performance or clearances.
- older installations or concern of homeowners or tenants about safety and performance of an installation.
- It’s becoming more frequent that a WETT inspection is necessary when obtaining fire insurance on a building containing a wood burning installation. This is a requirement of the insurance company and must be carried out by a certified WETT inspector. It is wise to have this inspection done as a condition of sale when purchasing a building as repair or replacement of a non-conforming installation can involve significant cost.
*Your inspector may recommend you have your wood burning stove inspected by a WETT certified inspector prior to use. Visit www.wetbc.ca for a list of all WETT certified HIABC home inspectors.
During the early 1970s through the early 1990s, Polybutylene (Poly-B) piping was widely installed in homes built in North America. This is a grey piping, with the designation PB2110 printed on the side, as well as the CSA standard identifier B137.8. This piping, along with other flexible plastic piping, gained popularity because of the rising cost of copper as well as their ease of installation. It’s estimated that over 700,000 homes were built in Canada, with perhaps 200,000 here in BC, containing Poly B piping.
Any plumbing system may suffer sudden unexpected failure, but when considering the purchase of a home with Poly-B, you must be aware of the increased instances of failure with this type of piping. While the piping is still listed by the CSA (Canadian Standards Association), it’s no longer used in new constructions.
Issues with Poly B Piping
After about 10 or 15 years in use, problems began to develop with Poly-B piping. Leaks were being reported, and worse, undetected leaks caused structural damage and mold growth. Leaks would occur both at joints and along the length of pipes. Class action lawsuits were mounted, to compensate homeowners, which cost Shell Oil Company $1 billion in settlements. Claim submissions for all class-action suits have now been closed.
There were a number of contributors to failure, such as:
- Acetyl (grey or white plastic) fittings at connections and bends would crack either on their own or because of over-crimping the aluminum bands holding them in place
- Water pressure that was too high (above 60 PSI)
- Water that contained too much chlorine (added to city water to retard bacterial growth)
- Piping installed bent or with too much strain
- Piping installed too close to a heat source, or in areas that experienced excessive heat
- Piping installed directly to the hot water tank
- Water that was too hot (hotter than 130F); 55C/130F is the minimum water temperature as recommended by BC Hydro to prevent bacterial growth
In Canada, acetyl fittings were rarely used. The piping was installed with copper or brass fittings using copper crimp rings, which was the better system, and experienced fewer failures. However, in areas where high chorine levels exist, or where the hot water tank is set to higher than 55C/130F, the pipe itself can be compromised, deteriorating from the inside out. This makes it impossible to visually detect problem areas. Homes that have higher than the recommended 40-60 PSI water pressure are also vulnerable to failures. Poly B should never be directly connected to the hot water tank. There should be an 18” copper leader before the Poly B connection.
While there are no guarantees, there are some methods to help preserve Poly-B in your home, including:
- High chlorine in the area? Add a filter at the entrance of the homes water source
- High water temperatures? Lower to 130F
- High water pressure? Have a new Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) installed to ensure that your pressure is between 40-60 PSI
- Support existing piping every 3-4 feet
- Replace any plastic fittings with copper or brass
- Too close to a heat source (gas furnace or gas hot water tank vent)? Place a heat shield between piping and heat source
As part of your homework, find out from your insurance provider if they will insure a home with Poly-B piping.
Otherwise, if you do your homework and shop around for a replumbing/repiping specialist, it can be a one-stop-shop and the cost can be akin to that of getting a new carpet. While it’s not a visible upgrade, it will certainly increase the value of your home, give you the peace of mind that a new installation will bring, and you should receive a warranty on the work.
Finally, let’s take a look at hydronic heating systems (radiant heating). Hydronic systems are not typically manufactured with corrosion-resistant components. They are intended to recirculate stagnant, inert water over and over again. These systems are not designed to carry oxygenated (fresh) water. Poly-B is oxygen permeable, allowing oxygen into the circulating water via absorption through its walls. This oxygenated water will corrode system components, causing premature failure. Hydronic systems should be inspected by a systems installer.