Thoughts on Home Inspections

By Heather Rose

A thorough home inspection might require a little boldness on the buyer’s part, touring someone else’s home can be an interesting experience. Most prospective buyers may not feel comfortable moving items or putting certain appliances through a test-run, but it can save you a few headaches later on.

Home inspections are generally not invasive, meaning the inspector may not move items around or look under, behind or around furniture. While he’s looking for hidden defects, meaning latent defects that you can’t see, you can be looking for visible defects that may be hidden.

The latent defects, like faulty wiring, mold and leaky pipes are defects that the seller must disclose to you under Canadian law, unless they can prove they had no idea about them in the first place. Patent defects are the trickier ones. These are defects you can see, and include stains or something that is broken. No one has to mention these to you.

However, there are cases when buyers have gone through with transactions after doing everything the right away by getting a home inspection, only to find very obvious signs that the sellers had hidden visible defects by moving objects around to conceal them. By purchasing the house, you may basically accept the home in this condition without even knowing it.

So protecting yourself is left up to you, and it might require some boldness. But it’s much better to feel awkwardly nosy than to pay out the nose later.

Don’t hesitate to try all of the light switches, open windows, turn on the showers, flush toilets and run appliances if possible.

Talk to your future neighbours about any basement floods or septic tank issues they may recall to gain an idea of what you’re getting into. When a neighbour’s septic tank backs up, everyone seems to know about it.

Ask the sellers about leaks, water issues, large repairs and the indoor air quality testing history of the home. Don’t forget to ask for proof of repairs if any.

Fully inspect the floors, walls and carpets yourself. This may require moving furniture around or peeling back area rugs.

Now, I’m not advocating such behaviour during something like an open house. But if you’re committed enough to be undergoing a home inspection, it’s wise to protect yourself.

Heather Rose is a Toronto based Journalist, who is a regular contributor to the Muddy York Real Estate Blog.  Heather website is located at


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