Questions to Ask your
Home Inspector

Carolyne (Realty) Corp.
1-(888) SOLD-ONE

*This material is copyrighted by Carolyne Realty Corp. and may not be reprinted without permission in writing.
(If you are an agent, you have permission to make a link to this article, keeping the copyright information in tact. Do not duplicate the material on your site in any other way. Email if you have any questions.)

MAKE A LIST of questions ahead of time, to ask your home inspector to check out for you (if he cannot or will not check some of these items, hire someone who can supplement the check he does; it will be money well spent; for example, think about hiring an electrical contractor (he gets permits, electricians do not in some areas); hire an HVAC contractor (he may be able to check exterior landscape gas lines also) and perhaps even engage the services of a landscape contractor if there is extensive work outside (so you won't find surprises after you move in:

Heating and air conditioner systems, air filter systems; check the thermostat; if it is programmable ask how to operate it. Check the smoke detector system. Is it hard-wired or is it BATTERY operated? does it have a battery back-up system? How does the alarm system work? (make sure the prior owner if there is one transfers ownership contract).

Interior plumbing: perhaps extra bathrooms and vents installed by the owner, special taps and other accoutrements that may have been add-ons; in the attic are the vents even connected?

Electrical systems: Is the wiring knob and tube? You may want to check out wall plugs, wiring additions, computer and cable hook-up installations perhaps done by the owner or done by someone contracted and done without permits and required licences. The fuse box or breaker panel will be on your list. If the breakers are not i.d. specific, ask the Seller to mark them for you.

Be sure to check if the copy of the listing for the home you are buying says 100 amp, 200 amp or whatever - that in fact, this is what is there. And, is there any garden wiring outside that requires attention? Perhaps there are wired outside workshops or garden houses that need attention; even maybe the wiring for the garage. Have the exterior gfi receptacles checked. They could be installed by the builder in a way that makes them totally useless, inoperable.

Electrical general: you may want your home inspector to review the existing light switches to see if they "all" operate, and operate what they are designated for. such as a fireplace or a special attic fan, perhaps. If the sink has a garburator, does it work? And then there is the sump pump. Is the motor seized? No electricity, it does not work. Perhaps the builder did not install it properly or the owners never maintained it. Is there an alarm system? Does it work? Is the house pre-wired for alarm and intercom? Do those connections work? Is the central vac wired properly?

Wiring at the breaker panel: you may want your inspector to double-check that the house has been wired for telephone use.some houses are pre-wired only with flat wire generally referred to as alarm wire, and sometimes that is not sufficient to permit more than one phone line, even in modern today's houses, where twisted phone wire is required. Due to the break-out of phone company installation services into subdivisions, some builders contract "on the cheap" and a homeowner would not know that he cannot install more than one phone line until he runs into issues with the phone company. Sometimes it means the phone company has to re-wire the whole house, a major undertaking after the drywall is in place and means fishing wire through other than normal channels. Can get very costly. The rewiring is a labor-intensive job, and man-hours are expensive.

You may want to have your inspector double-check that hanging light fixtures are attached to the ceiling properly. If they wiggle and are held in place by only one screw, they may fall on you when you try to change a lightbulb. In the same vein, you may want to have him check the smoke detectors. are they hard-wired or the battery operated kind. Have they been installed correctly? Do they work? Have him hold some sort of heater near the detector to see how sensitive it is. How close does he have to get before the alarm sounds (or not) ?

What life is left in the battery that runs back-up for the alarm system? Is there even a battery in the unit?

Roof and vents and roof exhaust systems;

Attic - moisture, vents - are bases attached properly? Insulation located there; you may want to check the joists and their spacing, especially if the owner has replaced shingles and installed them over top of existing shingles. Is the weight a problem?

Are the trusses a problem? Are they the floating kind that warp with the weather, pulling the ceiling away from the wall?

Does the addition of baked enamel soffit and fascia create another kind of problem? Has it been installed properly? Are there any holes where animals have gotten into the attic because the installed pieces do not line up properly? Has the wind blown under pieces away entirely?

What about the insulation? has it diminished or even vanished? In older homes, the insulation never may have been done properly in the first place or may have actually evaporated over the years, leaving virtually none.

Insulation in exterior walls, if it can be accessed - will you need more? is there any evidence that additional insulation has been blown in? You may want to ask if walls are plaster on lathe, or drywall, particularly, in bathrooms where moisture collects. Is grout in need of repair? Your inspector will know the building codes for your area.

Does the exterior stone or brick show signs of hoar frost attached and or moss growing on it? Ask what that means.

If you happen upon hardwood floors that have been installed either by the builder or after the fact, do they run down hill or sideways at a tilt? If so, what does that mean if they are not level?

Walls and ceilings - in particular, check for dampness; look for damaged ceilings and freshly painted cover-ups - bathrooms above often leak into the ceiling below, or there is overflow damage that may not even be apparent to the owner. Did someone do a paint cover-up on a damaged ceiling? If you smell fresh paint in some areas only, such as a basement block wall, touch it. You may be in for a surprise. If it feels spongy to the touch, ask questions.

Floors and structures beneath them: are the joists 2 x8, or 2 x 10? What does the end of the joist rest on? What type of construction is the framing? - e.g. 2 x 4, 2 x 6 - is there any wood rot visible? 2 x 6 framing allows space for extra insulation. Is there any insulation that is visible, so you can check it out?

Windows, seals and their framing; does the exterior aluminum framing cover wood rot? Aluminum siding and fascia - does it cover rotted wood? Have the gutters been replaced and/or cleaned? Does the door sweep need replacing? Can you push an envelope through the door jam, where it meets the frame?

If there is a room over the garage, does the garage door let you see lots of light coming through where the surround-seals are located? If so, chances are good you are going to have lots of wind coming into your home in bad weather seasons. Where light shines through in abundance, those seals likely need to be replaced.

Foundations - cracks, moisture and mold - don't forget to check out the garage walls and the garage interior. Are the brick walls in the garage cracked? Slight surface cracking due to settling usually isn't often a problem, but this is not always so. Ask your inspector.

Basement below grade - and outside grading issues - has garden soil been packed up against the concrete by an ambitious gardener. Concrete is porous. If so, the grading will be addressed by the inspector. If landscaping has been added and interlock or cobblestone bricks have been used to modify areas, double-check the height of steps: risers, etc. to be sure they are not too high, or too low to use safely or if they are breaking any sort of rules for such. Are they sinking? Is this a costly process to re-do? Ask your inspector.

If you want special checks made, ask your inspector if the price includes items such as:

Dishwashers, fireplaces, Jacuzzi type bath jets

Plumbing: it may not be sufficient for your home inspector just to flush the toilets to see if the water runs. you may want him to take off the lid on the tank and see exactly what is in there. You may be surprised to find that the homeowner had done some d.i.y. repairs that are not up to standards. You may want to review the pressure produced to fill a bathtub. Some pressure valves only let 4.5 gallons per minute enter the tub, and it could take a long time to fill the tub, only to have a cold-water bath waiting for you.

You may want to ask your inspector about "critter control" - that is - a check regarding terminates, and or carpenter ants.

No home inspector can or will speak to the asbestos issue, but arrangements can be made separately for those tests.

Continue to add items to this list as you think of them. Check with your inspector ahead of time, regarding what is included in the cost. Although the inspection has a preset list of instructions from his company, the inspector will likely be pleased to comply with your requests, particularly if he knows ahead of time that he will be required to allot extra time for his appointment with you.

Ask what kind of report you can expect?

These are just some questions. You will have others. Be prepared ahead of time with your list of questions written down. Walk with the inspector and talk to the inspector as he does his work. Item by item, check off your questions. He will advise how certain mechanisms work. He will go over the entire report with you at the end of the inspection. Do not rush. Take your time, and allow the inspector to do his job. This process cannot be rushed, so mark your calendar accordingly. You may want to book off time in the amount of 3-4 hours, if it is necessary for you to take time off work. Some inspections take all day. Pre-arrange. Know ahead of time what you have contracted for.

We highly recommend if you are thinking of selling a home, that you immediately book a pre-inspection, so that you are at the ready, organized and able to address any situation that may arise when a buyer arrives with an offer. Know that the buyer still has the right to obtain their own home inspection at their own expense if they so wish. As a buyer, the inspection report may be kept on file so that if and when you sell the property you have just purchased, you can, in turn, hand over the inspection report to the next owner, and add to it any additional work and/or warranties you acquire while living there.

The pre-inspection procedure is simply a process that shows you have nothing to hide from a potential buyer. Although a pre-inspection in no way obligates you to fix or repair findings, it will enable you to make advance decisions about an acceptable price at which to offer your home to the market, and will show the buyer that you are a sincere seller - and one who is not trying to hide defects - ones that could end up with you later being sued over them. When the report is offered to the would-be buyer upfront, they know exactly what they are getting into and can judge accordingly whether or not they are willing to proceed - what they are willing to accept or not. It will help the seller to stabilize his thinking ahead of time, as well.

The home inspector cannot advise the buyer or the seller whether or not to remove conditions in offers, however they will advise as to likely costs required to implement any changes, at which time the buyer or the seller can decide how to proceed.

Regardless of the costs involved, and sometimes these can seem expensive, this is a process that no one involved in buying or selling a home can afford to short-circuit. It is what it is and in the end could save you countless thousands of dollars. Know that sellers are not always trying to hide things; sometimes they legitimately do not know about certain problems. In the end everyone benefits.

As a responsible REALTOR, we recommend to all our clients and customers, too, to book a home inspection - even if there is someone in your family who is a roofer, a plumber, or a general contractor. These days you need a specialist, one who is versed in mandatory building codes for the domicile of the property, and one who has the training to evaluate multiple situations and remove the risk factor for you. No one likes surprises, especially expensive ones. After the fact is no time to try to figure out liability, and who is responsible for what. That gets even more expensive.

Know ahead of time that your home inspector will claim that he has no liability when you discover things he did not address, subject to the return of your fee charged. Having said that there are many lawsuits on the record where the home inspector has, in fact, been held liable. Govern your purchase and sale requirements accordingly and you should be safe. Always seek the outside advice of an expert. This is no time to gamble with one of the largest commitments you may make in your lifetime.

Please remember me when you are ready to sell or ready to buy - and please tell your friends how promptly we responded to your request. Perhaps share our web site url with your friends, relatives and business associates, and bookmark it in your favourites for use again on another day.

Carolyne 905-458-6711

Please note that MLS means other agents sell our listings and we sell theirs. If you see any signs or ads of any interest, please let me know, and I will gladly pass the information you require over to you by email or telephone, immediately.

"The nicest compliment that you can give me is to refer your
neighbours, friends, business associates, and family".


Here are copies of reference letters I recently received. I have a large number
of wonderful letters I can show you. This is just a current example of
recent ones. There are also quite a few on my web site... if you would like to view them on your computer.

Carolyne - the name most recommended. The one who REALLY gets results.
Call any time, if you would like real estate information for your area.

CAROLYNE REALTY CORP. Small Company - but we do BIG BUSINESS in real estate -
Where it's the LITTLE things that count and Our Reputation is on the SOLD sign


Reference letters:

(going through a divorce) Client says:

I just want to take a moment and say that I appreciate your efforts in listing and selling my home. An unfortunate circumstance of a marital breakdown is never an easy sale to handle; for anyone involved. Selling a home can be an emotional experience under any circumstances. Selling a home that one cared about very much and is leaving under unhappy conditions makes the process that much more complicated. From the beginning, I felt that you were the right choice due to your compassion. And yet you approached the business as true business without compromising or taking advantage of the personal matter at hand. Your years of experience is evident to me by the consistency of your management of our sale during very stressful moments.

I don't know what more to say other than thank-you. Your professionalism and personal consideration has been very helpful for me. I wish you continued success in the future.

signed - MWK


(Ms. Taylor was a buyer "and" a seller) Here's what she says:
My past experience with a real estate agent was not as rewarding as the
First Class level of service I received from you Carolyne. What you did,
was simply provide me with a sensible, no-nonsense way of: listening,
returning calls promptly, answering questions, accommodating my schedule and
showing patience and courtesy. You did not give a hard sell when showing a
place and if there were faults, you noted them to me. I appreciated your
knowledge and professionalism and the fact that you took the time to hand
out useful information on moving preparations and facts I needed to know on
budgeting for other costs. It was a pleasure to know you and I would not
hesitate recommending your services to others. Thanks again.
signed - Y. Taylor (you can speak directly to her)


(These folks sold here and relocated) Here's what they say:
I wanted to express our sincere thank you for your EXTREMELY proficient and
professional services. With your years of experience in the industry, and
your "tough as nails" work ethic, you knew exactly what we wanted after one
meeting. Most of the realtors we interviewed were in and out in 10 minutes.
You, however, were there for over an hour, which spoke volumes to us and it
wasn't a big sales pitch either. You only brought qualified buyers, as to
not waste our time and were in touch EVERY single day, after EVERY single
showing to give us feedback, which was great! Without the advice you gave
us on how to 'show' our home, we may still be living in Brampton. But now
we are in Halifax exactly at the time we wanted to be.

I would highly recommend Carolyne Realty Corp. to anyone who doesn't want
the hassles and the "general care" of one of the bigger players out there.
She truly cares about every detail and will not lead you astray!!! Even 2
months after our sale, we still keep in contact through ICQ, which is very
nice because, you never know when we'll be moving back and may need her
again. I would invite any potential clients to call me for more information
on the excellent service we received.

signed - Tammy & Dan

*This material is copyrighted by Carolyne Realty Corp. and may not be reprinted without permission in writing.

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1998 by Carolyne Lederer PLEASE NOTE: this material is copyrighted by Carolyne Realty Corp. and may not be reprinted or duplicated in any form without the written consent of the copyright holder.