You’ve probably heard of a home inspection, but if this is your first time buying or selling a home in Ontario, you may have questions about exactly what is included in this service and whether or not it’s something you need to invest in or worry about.
Though home insurance isn’t always conditional on a home inspection, at Westland Insurance, we’re strong proponents of home inspections, and in this post, we’ll tell you why:
What You Can Expect From a Home Inspection
When you hire a home inspector, you can expect to receive accurate and valuable insights about the overall structural and physical condition of your home. A home inspection will identify risks and safety concerns, highlight any immediate repairs that are needed, and provide recommendations for contacting experts and specialists, if necessary. You will receive all the relevant information from the home inspection in a report after it has been completed.
Does Homeowners Insurance Require a Home Inspection?
The answer to this question is: It depends.
Not all homeowners insurance is conditional on a home inspection. Each insurance provider has its own requirements, and specifics may vary from one situation to another. In many cases, though, you may not be required to submit a home inspection to your insurance provider if:
- Your home is less than 25 years old
- Your home has had a recent inspection
- Your home has not undergone any major repairs or renovations
If, on the other hand, the home in question is an older home (more than 25 years old) that has not undergone a recent inspection or if it has had major repairs or renovations, your insurance provider may not provide coverage without proof that a home inspection has been completed.
In general, the dedicated team at Westland Insurance strongly recommends investing in a home inspection for your property, whether it’s a condition of your insurance coverage or not. Home inspections have many benefits and can offer financial savings as well as peace of mind in both the short term and long term.
The Benefits of Having a Home Inspection Done
Having a home inspection done doesn’t require a lot of time or energy and is relatively inexpensive (at least compared to the cost of purchasing a home). While some homeowners opt to forego a home inspection due to a competitive marketplace, advice from a realtor, or simply because they don’t feel it’s necessary, Westland Insurance strongly believes the benefits always outweigh the drawbacks.
The benefits of having a home inspection done include:
- Identify safety risks.
- Tap into potential financial savings (as a buyer, leverage the cost of repairs to reduce your offer price on a property).
- Plan for repairs before moving in.
- Save time and money and reduce frustration.
- Reduce insurance costs (if upgrades or repairs have been done or will be done as a result of the inspection findings).
- Reduce the likelihood of buyer’s remorse when you go into a deal with knowledge at your fingertips.
What Home Inspections Look For
On the day of your home inspection, it’s best if you can be present to ask questions and document any areas of concern that your home inspector may find (taking your own photos for reference is a great idea, even if photos will also be included in the inspection report).
What can you expect your home inspection to include? Let’s take a look:
Your inspector will confirm the building’s measurements and take note of the various construction materials. They will also carefully inspect any unusual features or areas where previous damage, repairs, or renovations may have occurred.
Appliances and Utilities
Appliances include things like your water heater, washer/dryer, stove, and fridge. Utilities include your electrical system, heating system, and plumbing system. In addition to making sure appliances and utilities function properly, your inspector will ensure everything is up to code and identify any potential liability issues.
Identifying fire hazards includes ensuring that the electrical system is grounded and operating properly as well as that outlets and electrical panels are up to code.
Your inspector will inspect all bathroom plumbing as well as look for any ventilation concerns or evidence of mould or rot.
A visual inspection of your foundation should be able to identify any potential structural or cosmetic issues that need to be further examined by professionals.
It’s standard for home inspectors to look at your roof, eaves, and gutters for evidence of damage or necessary repairs. In addition, drainage issues and the slope of your home and property will be taken into consideration.
Exterior Wall Damage
Inspecting your home’s exterior walls can reveal issues such as leaks, insulation problems, structural concerns, and more.
What Home Inspections Don’t Cover
A home inspection covers quite a lot, but it’s not foolproof. Home inspectors are typically generalists whose job it is to identify areas of concern that may warrant further investigation by specialists or experts in particular fields (such as plumbing, electrical, roofing, or foundation repair). Also, just because you invest in a home inspection doesn’t guarantee that future issues won’t soon arise in your home.
Most home inspections are primarily visual, which means that they often don’t (or can’t) include checking inside walls, electrical panels, sewers, or chimneys. Be sure to clarify with your home inspector exactly what has been covered during your home inspection, and don’t hesitate to ask about any specific areas of concern that you feel may have been overlooked. Your home inspector may not be able to investigate potential problems that can’t be visually seen, but they may still be able to offer advice or put you in touch with a professional who can.
Preparing for a Home Inspection
When preparing for a home inspection, there are many ways to streamline the process and ensure that you ultimately receive the most valuable information in return. How you prepare will partially depend on whether or not you are currently living in the home you are having inspected. Here are a few tips to help you get ready before inspection day:
- Tidy up your home. Remove fire hazards, ensure clear access throughout, and minimize the potential for tripping, falling, or other accidents. Home inspectors may need access to rarely-used areas like attics and crawl spaces, so plan ahead accordingly.
- Be prepared to provide documentation about your home. Before inspection day, locate any paperwork that details the size of your home and property, its features, and information about specific systems (security system, water sensors, etc.), repairs, upgrades (heating, electrical, windows, plumbing, roof), or renovations.
- Make a note of any areas you have questions about or believe may merit special attention from your home inspector.
- If you’re arranging an inspection for a rental property or a property you’re considering purchasing, be sure to get permission from and coordinate logistics with all parties involved beforehand.
Protect Your Home with Westland Insurance: Get a Free Quote Today!
To conclude, home insurance in Ontario is not always conditional on a home inspection, but the team at Westland Insurance still recommends getting your home inspected before purchase, no matter what. Home inspections can help homeowners fully understand the potential risks and repairs needed at the property they are purchasing and make savvy financial, logistical, and time-based decisions accordingly.
It’s never fun to discover unsavoury surprises in a new home, and a home inspection can help to prevent that scenario and mitigate issues before move-in day. In some cases, it can even allow you to lower your home insurance premiums (for instance, if upgrades are identified or repairs are made as a result of the inspection).
For more advice about home inspections or other home insurance-related questions and concerns, reach out to the knowledgeable and friendly team at Westland Insurance. We’re available to serve you online, by phone, or in person at any one of our many locations throughout the province of Ontario.
The cost of a home inspection in Ontario can range between about $250-$600, depending on the size of your home, the type of inspection you require, and the experience level of the inspector you hire.
It depends. A home inspection is not always mandatory for insuring your property but is often required by insurance companies if the home in question is an older home (more than 25 years old), has not been inspected for more than 20 years, or has undergone significant renovations or repairs. If providing a home inspection is a condition of your home insurance, you will have to get one before your property can be insured.
In some cases, yes. If you’re purchasing a newer home (less than 25 years old) that has not undergone significant repairs or renovations and has been inspected within the last 20 years, your insurance company may not require a home inspection as a condition of insuring your property. That being said, at Westland Insurance, we always recommend investing in a home inspection, even if it’s not required for insurance coverage purposes.
While it’s reasonable to hope that your new home will be completely free of issues, the truth is that it’s still a good idea to have a professional home inspector look it over. Areas that require extra attention or weren’t finished properly are easier to identify and resolve before moving day rather than once you’re settled in.