Oakville Homes

November 1, 2010

Mr. Gilgan, why would I hire a house inspector?


Yes, why would I hire a house inspector, considering it is a new home built by a professional builder and obviously inspected by municipal inspectors.  What more do I need?

For those who have read my blog about Mattamy, I am sure by now you understand that even builders like Mattamy don’t always treat you the homeowner with respect or professionally. 

Do I need say “illegal wiring” or “donation”?

Well, here is an article that should show you what you are up against.  Now, if you are totally confident that you can best a builder in the battle for a properly built house, don’t bother wasting your time reading this but, I’d suggest you find a good lawyer to help you later.

Inspections: If these walls could talk

January 03, 2009

Tracy Hanes

Toronto Star

After almost a year of living in their new townhouse in Uxbridge, Libby McCready and her husband figured there was little wrong with their home. But Libby’s parents, who had bought several new houses over the years, urged them to take the time to fill out the Tarion new home warranty program’s one-year report listing any issues.

As neither Libby nor her husband had much knowledge or experience with home building or repairs, they hired home inspector Brian Daley to have a look.

“We wanted to make sure we caught everything but we’re not handy,” says McCready. “Brian found a number of things we never would have noticed. The stuff he found came as a surprise.”

The most significant defect Daley found was that the clothes dryer hadn’t been vented properly, thus was not blowing outdoors but into insulation, which could have eventually caused a moisture and mould issue. He also noted that the plumbing to a toilet in a seldom-used second bathroom wasn’t on the right angle for flushing, that a promised rough-in for an electrical fan for the fireplace was not completed and that attic insulation had been flattened in places.

Armed with Daley’s report and digital photos, the McCreadys filled out the Tarion Warranty Corp. forms by the one-year deadline and as a result, those issues are covered. If they hadn’t submitted the report in time, their builder would not have been obligated to repair the defects.

“Although everything turned out fine, I’d never move in to a brand-new house again without having a home inspection done right away,” says McCready. “I would have rather had a comprehensive list of the problems from the start, as we’d lived here for almost a year and some of the issues could have caused problems. The inspection was totally worthwhile.”

Unfortunately, most new homebuyers mistakenly “believe their new house is perfect,” says Daley, when that’s seldom the case. That’s why Daley and Charters Kenny, both registered home inspectors (RHI), have launched New Home Inspections, a company that specializes exclusively in new home warranty inspections in the GTA and beyond.

Other home inspectors, such as Milton RHI and engineering technologist Martin Sweeney of A Home Inspection Company Inc. have also started offering warranty inspections in addition to their regular inspections of resale homes. Sweeney began doing new home inspections and preparing Tarion documents for homeowners as new development boomed in Halton Region.

New homes in Ontario are covered by the Tarion warranty for deposit insurance, protection against defects in work and materials, against unauthorized substitutions and against delayed closings and occupancies without proper notice. The most common claims relate to defects in work and materials, which require homeowners to submit a list of deficiencies at 30-day and one-year deadlines.

While builders provide a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) for buyers to note defects, Daley and Sweeney say these are more geared to cosmetic issues, such as nicks in drywall and whether the right flooring, cabinetry, etc. are provided. Those inspections usually don’t include checks of the attic, of heating and cooling systems or an in-depth exploration of the house’s structure and systems. And while independent third-party inspections take about three hours, PDI inspections are usually far briefer.

Daley says outside a new home, his company checks drainage and grading, looks for foundation defects, checks installation of siding and brickwork, roof installation and venting. Inside, they inspect walls, windows, floors, ceilings and doors for structural issues, check that stairs are properly supported, plumbing fixtures and fittings properly installed, that insulation in attics, basements, etc. is sufficient and will see if the heating system is distributing air properly.

“I often find insulation is insufficient or missing in attics,” says Sweeney. “Sometimes, vapour barrier hasn’t been installed, and on the roof I might find that nail heads haven’t been caulked and sealed, which will eventually cause moisture to seep in.”

He says it’s difficult for the average homeowner to have knowledge of the systems and techniques used to build a house. For example, the new tankless hot water heaters and heat recovery ventilators are “really sophisticated pieces of equipment.” He often finds HRV units haven’t been correctly installed.

Daley says his company finds an average of 30 defect items during a warranty inspection and Sweeney says his list usually includes 20 to 30. J.D. Power and Associates’ 2008 survey of GTA new home buyers found that the proportion of homes delivered “defect-free” in the GTA market was 12 per cent in 2008 (which means 88 per cent had defects). The total number of construction problems noted by buyers was down to 21 per home in 2008 from 23 per home in the previous year, according to the J.D. Power study, which includes only large volume GTA builders.

“It’s not because most builders aren’t doing a good job or are taking shortcuts,” says Daley, but because homebuilding involves numerous complex systems.

Most large builders rely on sub-trades and as many as 30 different trades can be involved in the building of a home, says Daley – and it’s unlikely all were supervised during the building process. Because they are piece workers, saving time and money is their No. 1 goal, says Daley, which may compromise quality.

Municipal building inspectors are responsible for checking every aspect of a house as it is being built, but it’s virtually impossible to do this effectively in a subdivision, says Daley.

“What generally happens is they check a small percentage of homes in hopes the builders will follow their requirements for the rest of the homes.”

While a builder may offer to provide one of his own reps for a warranty inspection, “it is not in the builders’ interest to find fault in their own work.” Daley says some builders have the best intentions, but it’s more likely that their inspector will find fewer defects than a third-party professional.

Daley’s company charges $375 per inspection and Sweeney charges $340 to $400, depending on the size of the house. Inspectors from both companies can help fill out Tarion warranty forms.

Anyone considering hiring a home inspector should call at least three different companies before making a decision, Daley suggests. Those with RHI designation have extensive training and are insured. A good place to start a search for a home inspector is with the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.

*** my blog does not endorse any individual house inspector but does endorse the hiring of same for a new home purchase.  Check with neighbours, internet forums, etc for references.  Ensure your inspector has done professional jobs in the past.
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1 Comment »

  1. Building | Township of Georgian Bluffs, Ontario, Canada

    The Ontario Building Code is enforced through the Building Code Act.

    … Building officials are bound by a code of conduct ensuring honesty and integrity is …


    Comment by Virgin Mary — November 2, 2010 @ 7:33 am | Reply

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