Your home inspection isn't foolproof
I hear the horror stories all the time. People email me saying their home inspector missed this, or that. But the truth is, a home inspector can’t catch every single little thing that’s not right with the house. Imagine the size of the report after THAT inspection! Inspections are an exercise in risk reduction, but risk can’t be completely eliminated when it comes to buying a home. It can alert you to some big-ticket issues that the home has — and can keep you from buying a money pit.
I will still always recommend getting an inspection before buying a home. It’s some of the smartest money you can spend — even if it’s not a diagnostic of every nook and cranny of your home.
Through the process of checking the major areas of concern, the inspector may come across some smaller items that they’ll include in the report to aid the homeowner.
Remember, your home inspector has health and safety standards to follow. They won’t perform inspections that put their personal safety at risk — and they shouldn’t be expected to.
Here are a few things to be aware of when you get a home inspection:
They won’t do a full electrical inspection
Your inspector will take a look at your electrical panel, and scope out whether the work that has been performed seems up to code. If it looks like it was tampered with by an amateur, or there appear to be any issues with the electrical panel, the inspector will make note of that in a report — and recommend you follow up with a licensed electrical contractor.
As your inspector goes room by room, they’ll test your light switches and electrical outlets — but they may not test every single one. Typically, they’ll test a representative number of them, so for example, if a room has five outlets, they may test two or three of them. If those test fine, they’ll move on to the next room. Any outlets that are obscured by furniture won’t get tested.
They don’t get down and dirty
Not every section of your home may be easily accessible. An inspector will check your attic, but they won’t disturb insulation to check behind it, and for areas with a low pitch — they’re not going to crawl through it corner to corner. A home inspector won’t move or climb on pieces of furniture so they can check out every window or power outlet. Anything that’s not accessible to the inspector won’t be inspected. Depending on how the home is currently staged, that could lead to some blind spots. For example, old furniture in the basement could be obscuring a foundation crack, or a problematic window.
They need to take their health and safety seriously. They’ll only inspect the home as far as conditions will allow. What does that mean? If your crawl space is wet, it could be contaminated with animal waste, mould, or mildew, and they won’t expose themselves to it. While most inspectors will check your roof — if you’re inspecting in the dead of winter and it’s covered by three feet of snow, they’re not going to climb up there to take a look. Inspectors can only inspect a home according to the conditions that allow them to do so safely.
They don’t automatically assess your air
A home inspector won’t automatically check your air quality for toxins like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), mould, and radon. Many inspectors out there will be able to collect air samples from your home and send them off to a lab that will test for these pollutants.
If your indoor air quality is a concern, make sure to ask your home inspector to add this to their list of services. This goes for radon, especially. It’s a colourless, odourless gas, so the only way to know if this harmful substance is in your home, is to test for it.
I’ll say it again: a home inspection is some of the smartest money you can spend when buying a home. It’s designed to give you a better picture of the home beyond the lipstick and mascara. But I’m all about making sure you’re informed as homeowners — and that includes knowing what an inspector WON’T check.