Buyer beware: Things to keep in mind when choosing a home inspector
A house "sold" sign is shown in Oakville, Ont., Monday, July 23, 2012. (Richard Buchan/The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- Today, in all but two Canadian provinces, virtually anyone can call themselves a home inspector -- regardless of whether or not they have completed any sort of professional training.
Here are a few things for homebuyers to bear in mind when choosing an inspector:
Most provinces don't regulate the industry
Only British Columbia and Alberta currently have legislation in place requiring home inspectors to be licensed, while Ontario says it's planning to introduce regulations this year.
While there are myriad designations out there that home inspectors can obtain, the educational requirements to obtain those designations can vary widely, even in B.C. where inspectors are licensed.
Experts recommend doing some research to determine what the various designations really mean -- and what sort of training is required to obtain them.
Word of mouth is key
Real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder recommends getting a referral from a friend or family member that you trust -- rather than from one of the real estate agents that stands to benefit from the sale.
Inspectors who get referral business from real estate agents could be hesitant to point out the flaws in a home so as not to risk that business, Weisleder says.
"If a home inspector becomes known for finding too many problems with a house, it's very possible they may not get too many referrals from realtors," he says.
Some, but not all, inspectors carry errors and omissions insurance, which can protect the buyer if the inspector is negligent.
Experts recommend asking to see the home inspector's proof of insurance.
Keep limitations in mind
Home inspectors base their opinions on what they can readily see within the home.
An inspector cannot see through walls or underneath floors.
As such, there are some issues that could slip under the radar of even a highly experienced and well trained inspector.
Experts say it's important to keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to purchase a home.