Home Property Inspector
Canadian Association of Home Property Inspectors (CAHPI) AB is a membership that home inspectors belong to. Qualified property inspectors receive ongoing training methods and information about improving the home inspection industry. As part of the Alberta Standards a certified home property inspector is required to be a member of an association like CAHPI. The link also provides you information about the standards.
Hiring a home property inspector can be a somewhat difficult decision. Some real estate agents will provide you a choice of a few home property inspectors they prefer to work with, while other agents will let you choose a home property inspector. It really doesn’t matter which direction you choose but you should be comfortable and prepared to ask the home inspector a few questions about their knowledge, experience, report handling etc. It is recommended that you attend the inspection and walk through the home with the inspector. Avoid any property inspector that does not allow the client to attend when they perform the inspection. This is your opportunity to use the inspector as a great resource and ask questions you may have during the inspection. The link provides you with some sample questions to ask the home property inspector.
The following link is to an article that will help you gain perspective when hiring a home property inspector and your expectations for your dream home. It explains that no home is perfect even though they’re built to present building codes; they are still prone to omissions ie construction insulation voids etc.
Below are a few links related to changes in the building code over recent years. A home property inspection is not to be confused with a building code inspection although the home inspector needs to be aware of building codes and changes to the code; they are more focused on the present structural integrity and safety of the home. The changes to the building code come into effect when you choose to renovate and once you disassemble a room or wall it has to be brought up to present building codes. For example you are looking at a house that is 40 years old and you plan to renovate the main floor, removing walls to make an open floor plan. In this case you would have to bring the area up to all present building codes including remediation of asbestos if in the home, which can become quite costly. Now if the house is not being renovated you do not have to bring the house up to present building codes unless you choose to or the home inspector recommends a priority repair/ update due to compromising structural integrity or health and safety concerns of the home.
Most municipalities can provide you with information about getting the required permits for a renovation and it is recommended that you spend the money and get the required permits if needed. Here is why:
A renovation performed without permits may have to be disassembled if it doesn’t appear safe by the city inspector, or if something occurs that requires an insurance claim, many insurance companies will not cover the claim unless a permit is issued and finally a permit ensures the city inspector will return throughout the renovation process and at the end: to ensure the work was done according to building codes. Click on the link below to see if your renovation project needs a permit.
Through the years there have been changes to the electrical code in order to make the residence safer for the consumer. This link provides you with some changes to the electrical code that can cause significant expense if you choose to renovate.
GFCI outlets have been around since the 1970’s and are located mainly near sources of water where as in 2015 AFCI’s are now a building requirement in bedrooms. These outlets perform differently than a standard outlet and are designed with your safety in mind. Again, these outlets only need to be upgraded when performing renovations however, your home property inspector probably will mention this upgrade in older homes for your safety.
Aluminum wiring has been rumored as a concern and is not necessarily all true. As long as certain guidelines and maintenance are performed it can be as safe, below is an article about aluminum wiring.
HVAC is the heating (furnace) and air conditioning in the home. Prior to 2007 some mid and high efficiency furnaces were installed with plastic ABS and PVC piping. This piping is not rated for the required vent temperatures that occur and needs to be upgraded to S636 CPVC. In some cases the piping may crack allowing carbon monoxide (the silent killer), into a room and be circulated throughout the house. If you have a home prior to 2007 your home property inspector should be able to advise you if the correct venting is installed or it needs to be replaced.
From 1995 to 2007 many homes were installed with Kitec water supply lines which were prone in some cases to degrade and the fittings leak. There was a settlement in 2011 and a fund set up for relief. If you do have Kitec, there is a website link in this article to the settlement.
Fireplaces are a nice addition to the home when renovating but there are things to be aware of: permits are required; code requirements are different from inserts (gas and wood), to on site built fireplaces; along with clearances to combustibles. The below website will give you an idea but it is recommended to check permit requirements before installing.
The foundation is a basis of the building and it supports all of the structure above it: you, your furniture, appliances, walls, and the attic above it. If the foundation fails: you could have a pile of rubble for a home. A crack in the foundation may be cause for concern. However, all foundations can crack due to the normal curing process of the concrete or the hydro-static pressure applied against the foundation.