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A building inspection: The best precaution

Using the services of a building inspector is probably the best precautionary measure you can take before buying a property. Although it’s not mandatory, a pre-purchase inspection will give the buyer peace of mind.

According to the Québec Association of Building Inspectors, an inspection checks that the property does not have any major defects that reduce the use or value of the building or that pose a risk to the safety of the occupants. By providing this information, it lets the buyer make an informed decision.

Carefully reading the pre-purchase inspection report, as well as the Declaration of the Seller, will prevent many unpleasant surprises. If one of these documents reveals a problem, you can decide to withdraw your offer to purchase or reduce the price you are willing to pay.

When should the property be inspected?

Before investing in an inspection, it’s a good idea to see if you can agree on a price with the seller. Then, simply add the “pending a favourable inspection condition” to the Offer to Purchase. 

The timeframe for meeting this condition is agreed on by both parties. Generally, the buyer will want to go ahead with the inspection quickly, to know if the property really does meet their needs.

What does the report contain?

Any problems identified by the building inspector will be listed in the inspection report, often in order of priority. The inspector will check the following:

  • The structure (foundation, floors, walls and ceilings)
  • The building envelope (siding, doors, windows and balconies)
  • The roof (gutters and roofing)
  • The inside of the house (stairs and cupboards)
  • The insulation
  • The building services (plumbing, electricity, heating, air conditioning and ventilation)
  • The outside of the home (lot)
  • Any stoves and fireplaces 

When possible, the inspector will even include an estimate of the cost of the most important work. You can therefore use the report to renegotiate the asking price.

Also applies to new homes

Buyers of newly built homes must also conduct an inspection. In this case, it is called a “pre-delivery inspection,” which the buyer conducts with the contractor. This step marks the coming into effect of the warrantee provided with new builds.

To make sure the new owner doesn’t miss anything important, we recommend having a professional do the walkthrough with them. All the work that needs to be done and any elements the buyer is not happy with must be indicated on the list supplied by the contractor.

If the buyer fails to report a defect, it will be considered to have been seen and accepted. Consult the Garantie de construction résidentielle (GCR) site for more information about new home warranties.