An important part of the home buying process is having a property inspection done before the final subject conditions in your offer to purchase are removed. It should be done by a certified building inspector and if there is any condition that he/she thinks needs further investigation then an additional inspection needs to be done. Leaving the initial inspection to the last couple of days before all conditions are to be removed could cost you plenty if you really want the house. You may not have enough time to arrange a second inspection. If you renegotiate your contract for an extension period and the seller has a better, back up offer in place, they could accept the other offer. Therefore it is best to leave enough time for inspections and to do the inspection as soon as possible.
Ask if a Property Disclosure Statement is available. The seller is required to tell you if they are aware of any material latent defect that makes the property unfit for habitation or dangerous. A material latent defect means a material defect that cannot be discerned through a reasonable inspection of the property. Examples of defects are buried oil tanks, faulty wiring, black mold, urea formaldehide and asbestos. A seller may not be able to disclose a material latent defect for many reasons, such as never having lived in the house, is in a care home, the property was inherited or is in foreclosure and the bank is selling it etc. That means it is up to the buyers to do their own investigations and be satisfied with the condition of the property. Get a copy of the unsigned Property Disclosure Statement and read it. Ask your Realtor to get the seller's authorization in writing to review the property's municipal file. It is also a good idea to talk to the neighbours about the property. Make sure you know about the area and any environmental influences that may affect the quality of living in your new home.
A property inspection is important for all types of property whether it is a condominium, townhouse, single family dwelling or new construction. If there are major defects uncovered with the property, you will need an estimate for the repair and use it to renegotiate your contract. This depends on how well the property was priced to begin with and whether there might be other back up offers in place. You could also walk away or see if the bank will finance the repair. Keep in mind that properties require ongoing maintenance and repair, it just makes sense to know what you are buying.
A list of Certified Home Inspectors for your area can be found at the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors website: