Home Inspections – What Buyers Need to Know
If you are buying a resale home and don’t want to inherit the sellers headaches, a home inspection by a professional should be given serious consideration. If a home inspection is ordered, your offer to purchase is usually conditional on you being satisfied with the inspection so that if the inspection is not satisfactory, there is no deal.
Home inspectors examine the major systems in the house – plumbing, electrical, heating plus the roof, foundation, insulation and general structure and give the buyer a written report.
An Ontario Superior Court decision is a good example of why a home inspection could be important.
The defendants in the case, McCormack and Willers undertook numerous renovations to their property, particularly to the bathroom and basement. The buyer purchased the home from the defendants, and was aware that McCormack and Willers had renovated the property themselves. The buyer did not make the offer to purchase conditional on any type of home inspection.
On the Information Sheet prepared by a real estate agent, McCormack and Willers stated that there was a “working” fireplace and that the recreation room in the basement had been “professionally decorated”. McCormack and Willers also stated in the Information Sheet that they were not aware of any latent defects in the property, nor were they aware of any problems with basement dampness. After closing the buyer discovered that the fireplace did not work properly, that there was sewage under the hardwood floor, that the bathtub was not level and that water ran behind the fixture covers in the bathtub area. The buyer also found water entering the basement in the spring after the snow melted. The buyer commenced an action, asserting that McCormack and Willers had fraudulently misrepresented the condition of the property.
The Ontario Superior Court dismissed the buyer’s claim. The evidence showed that the buyer did not make any inquiries about the condition of the chimney nor did McCormack or Willers make any representations with respect to the condition of the chimney. Regarding the problems with the bathroom renovations, the Court found that while McCormack and Willers owned that property, there were no signs of the problems in the bathroom.
Regarding the issue of dampness in the basement, McCormack admitted that there had previously been some dampness in the basement, however, he applied some sealant to the walls and assumed that this had taken care of the problem. McCormack subsequently encountered some more seepage in the same area, but applied more water sealant, insulation and a vapour barrier, which appeared to rectify the problem. Accordingly, neither McCormack nor Willers were guilty of concealment or a reckless disregard of the truth regarding any representations made by them.
Had a home inspection been completed by a professional inspector the defects may have been uncovered before closing. Before hiring a home inspector, check out his or her background and qualifications and make sure the inspector has liability insurance just in case a mistake is made.