The Purpose of a Home Inspection

Why take that chance?

Neglecting to have your property inspected, could be the most costly mistake of your life! 

Why Do I Need An Inspection?

Very simply, a house is the single largest investment most individuals will ever make. More and more purchasers are coming to understand the wisdom of a thorough home inspection prior to committing to its purchase. Home inspections have proven to be a positive and educational experience for prospective home buyers. An impartial inspection by a professional Registered Home Inspector (RHI) or CAHPI National Certificate Holder will provide a large measure of protection from unpleasant surprises and allow you to make an informed decision about your purchase.

Having a professional home inspection may also reveal serious issues with a property you intend on purchasing. Is the home in an area known to be subject to Radon Gas? Is there any chance that the home was a former Marijuana Grow Operation or a Meth Lab? The fact that a house may not appear on the Ottawa Police listing of known properties that were former grow ops, is no guarantee that this house wasn’t. Would you know what to look for? Is the home in an area known for unstable soil conditions? These are all issues that a professional home inspector will make you aware of during your home inspection. Miss them, and your family’s health and safety may be at risk, not to mention the hole it will burn in your pocketbook to resolve them.


The purpose of an inspection is to determine the condition of a property at the time of purchase, or afterwards in cases involving litigation, in order to disclose the following:

  • serious deficiencies (usually defined as repairs in excess of $1,500)
  • replacement and repair requirements
  • age and life expectancy of major components
  • positive aspects of the home
  • maintenance and safety information

The following is part of a standard home inspection:


  • Slope, grading and drainage of the property
  • Foundation and exterior walls
  • Porches and decks
  • Windows, doors, headers and sills
  • Fascia, soffits and eaves troughs
  • Roof, flashings, vents and chimneys
  • Garage, carport and outbuildings


  • Foundation walls, basement floor, posts and beams
  • Waterproofing, moisture penetration, wood rot, etc.
  • Electrical service and wiring
  • Plumbing supply, waste drainage and fixtures
  • Heating, air conditioning (summer only) and ventilation
  • Floors, walls, ceilings, doors and windows
  • Attic insulation and ventilation

Typically an inspection takes between 2 and 3 hours, occasionally longer, and includes an examination of all the major systems such as roofing, structural, exterior and interior finishes, electrical, heating/air conditioning, insulation, plumbing and related components. A professional home inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotations for repairs, noncompliance with building code requirements, and is not intended to provide guarantees or warranties. Well water analysis and septic inspections are not part of a standard home inspection but very important. We would suggest that you have both of these areas addressed by professionals in those specialties. Several Laboratories provide water sample vials that may be collected and filled by the purchaser and submitted to the lab for analysis. Air Conditioners can not be inspected except during summer months (typically May to September). Pools and spas are not included as inspection items. Wood burning appliances such as fireplaces and wood stoves would require an separate inspection by a WETT inspector (Wood Energy Technology Transfer). Some fire insurance companies provide discounts for WETT inspected and approved properties. Knowing what to expect will help you make an informed decision about the value of your home as well as the costs of future upkeep. Check out our information on Preparing for the Inspection. Two articles taken from the “Ottawa Citizen” and well worth reading are: Home Inspections Pay Dividends and Inspect Before You Seal the Deal

When Should The Inspection Take Place?

New Homes* With any new home purchase, it is strongly recommended that you ensure that you fully comprehend all the rules and requirements of your provincial warranty program prior to taking possession. In Ontario, you will want to visit the Tarion Warranty website and review it in detail.

If you have not yet purchased your new home, it is a good idea to consider the services of a Professional Home Inspector during it’s construction. You will require that a clause be inserted into the Agreement of Purchase & Sale with the builder that stipulates that construction inspections are permitted. Some builders are hesitant to allow this service. If this is the case with your choice of builders, you may want to reconsider things. We strongly suggest that you consult with an expert real estate lawyer, prior to the signing of any new home purchase agreement. Your lawyer may also suggest that you have a copy of the floor plan for your new home, included in the agreement papers.

If your builder will not accommodate construction inspections, it is still in your best interests to consider having a professional home inspector accompany you to your PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) prior to your occupancy and any money changing hands. During this PDI you will be asked to create a list of deficiencies with the builder representative (and of course the verbal assistance of your home inspector). After you move into your new home, there is generally a period of 30 days in which you may forward a list of building deficiencies to the Warranty Program. There is also another opportunity as you approach your first anniversary in the home. Your final list of home deficiencies needs to be submitted to Tarion Warranty within a 30 day period prior to the end of your first year in the home.

PLEASE READ: It is imperative that all correspondence to your builder and/or the warranty program, contains a running list of ALL outstanding deficiencies with your home – even if previously reported. Most Warranty Programs look at your last list submitted as the most recent and accurate reflection of all outstanding issues. If you were to submit a report of any new issue on its own, they will assume that all previous matters have been remedied. (whether they have been corrected or not). * (Home Inspectors® has provided this information as a courtesy and does not warrant the accuracy of any warranty information above as rules and regulations for any warranty program may change from time to time. We strongly suggest that you remain current with all warranty policies and strictly adhere to the requirements of the program in order to retain the most from your coverage)

Resale Homes Your real estate agent may have included a clause in your offer to purchase, making it conditional upon a home inspection to your satisfaction. If there isn’t a clause to that effect, then you need to include it. We would even go so far as to suggest that you add a clause stating that if your inspector suggests additional inspections by specialized professionals (such as a heating contractor or electrician), there be an allowance to accommodate them as well. An agreement of purchase is a binding contract, once signed, there may be little room for alterations or changes. No offer to purchase should be signed without seeking the advice of a reputable real estate lawyer who will ensure that your interests are protected within the contract. Remember that items like air conditioners cannot be inspected during colder months and a clause to ensure their satisfactory operation should be considered (we normally suggest that a date like July 1st would allow a purchaser the chance to test an air conditioning unit under hot climatic conditions). You are generally granted a limited time frame to arrange and have your inspection completed. The inspection should take place after all price negotiations have been finalized and the vendors have accepted your offer. At this point in time, it is evident that you intend to purchase the property. Now is your opportunity to determine the finer details about what you are buying by engaging the services of a registered home inspector. It is highly recommended that you accompany the inspector during the inspection process. At Home Inspectors® we encourage your active participation in the inspection process through questions and answers so be sure to bring along a pad and paper. Please remember that part of the inspection occurs outdoors – so dress accordingly. You should receive a written copy of your inspection report at the time of its completion. At Home Inspectors® we provide you with a copy of your report generally onsite – We retain a second reference copy at our office. You may call us anytime for information, as advice is free for as long as you own the home.

How Much Will It Cost?

Often the first question asked, it should actually be one of your last!  An inspector’s qualifications should be of more importance to you. A poor inspector at any price, isn’t a deal and may actually end up costing you more in the long run. Many individuals may call themselves home inspectors and charge less than their competition. You should be suspicious of any quotes less than $400. Check their qualifications, track record and ask several pertinent questions (see the section below on choosing an inspector). While you shouldn’t have to pay a fortune for a building inspection, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” holds a lot of truth! Homeownership is an expensive task and cutting corners by hiring the cheapest inspector that you can find, may end up as a very costly mistake. Check out references and credentials and above all – Hire an Experienced Professional! A good quality inspection by a National Certificate Holder (NCH) or Registered Home Inspector (RHI), professional will likely cost upwards of $400 but should not generally total more than $550 (taxes included). Exceptions should be made for larger or unique properties or those containing multiple units such as a residence with a basement apartment, a duplex or triplex. Inspections involving several site visitations such as those during a building’s construction, will cost  considerably more due to the time involved and the uniqueness of this service. Payment of the fee is usually due upon completion of the inspection. The actual cost of the inspection should be one of your least concerns as the benefits realized from a professional inspection will far outweigh it’s cost, several times over.

How Do I Choose The Right Inspector?

Don’t become an unfortunate statistic as many unsuspecting home buyers and homeowners have become. Home Inspection is still totally unregulated in Canada. Absolutely ANYONE can claim to be a home inspector in Canada, even if they have NO credentials, related training or experience. So how do you choose?  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation -CMHC recommends that consumers deal only with professional home inspectors who are members of a recognized professional association.  CMHC offers an on-line publication entitled Hiring a Home Inspector. Having said that, not all professional home inspectors are created equal. It is very important to determine how long the individual has been conducting professional home inspections full time. While many individuals claim to have “X years of experience” it may be in a construction related trade and not actual inspection experience – there is a HUGE difference. Professional Home inspectors are specifically trained in “Defect Recognition”. Any tradesperson or professional such as an Engineer does not specially have this training by virtue of their trade or professional degree. Do you really need an Engineer to conduct your home inspection. The answer is simply – NO – You need someone specifically trained in  “Defect Recognition”. This distinction is discussed in our 20 Questions To Ask a Home Inspector page. While home inspectors in Canada remain an unregulated body, there are some professional associations that offer certification to their qualified members.  In Canada the highest national designation now available, is through the National Certification Authority and monitored by CAHPI – The Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. This new designation is the CAHPI – National Certificate Holder NCH (for more information ). CAHPI Ontario also known as THE ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF HOME INSPECTORS – OAHI is the Ontario branch of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) the only association that grants the RHI (Registered Home Inspector) designation.

National Certification – What is it and why is it so important? in 2005 The Federal Minister of Housing announced that CAHPI “would become the voice of the Canadian Home Inspection Industry” and they were given the mandate to administer a certification program fairly and equally among Canadian Home Inspectors including members and non-members. This new designation ensures that it’s recipients have the knowledge and technical competencies required of this profession. All applicants must conduct an inspection and submit a report for a peer review board. As it must be renewed annually, this is absolute highest home inspection designation available nationally in Canada today. In the Fall of 2006, the first group of inspectors to receive this title, were presented with their Certification at the CAHPI National Conference. Paul Wilson of Home Inspectors® was one of them. If you want the best home inspector possible, then ensure that they are  National Certificate Holders. The National Certification Authority permits home inspectors from all across Canada to apply and be tested for this designation regardless of their professional affiliation. Applicants must pass rigorous technical requirements (generally taking 2 years to complete) as well as two field inspections in front of a peer review board. Qualifications are revisited and inspectors are re-testing every five years to ensure that they remain current and up-to-date. There are very strict national code of ethics and standards of practice that must be adhered to. Once successful, National Certificate Holders can conduct inspections anywhere across Canada. This designation is now considered the “Gold Standard” in home inspections nationally and is fully supported by The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Paul Wilson of Home Inspectors is strongly committed to the promotion of this new National Certification. He feels that “the bar has been raised for inspectors across the country” and the clear winner will be today’s consumer. In October 2008, a new Ontario Association was formed to provide all home inspectors in Ontario regardless of their professional affiliation, with a clear path to this national certification. PHPIO (pronounced fippio) is The Professional Association of Home & Property Inspectors of Ontario. Paul Wilson of Home Inspectors, is PHPIO’s President and one of it’s founding members.

PHPIOs founding committee consists of some of the most experienced and well respected home inspectors in Canada today. While PHPIO is a new organization, its founding committee members are from all across Ontario and bring with them many of years of association experience on both national and provincial levels. This impressive list includes a Past President of The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), a former Past President of the provincial association, as well as several former provincial board members. Many of committee members have been honored with CAHPI awards for service and commitment to the Home Inspection profession as well as contribution and dedication to the development of the National Certification Program. Others have been involved with the national initiative since its inception in 1996 and have worked for many years to ensure that all home inspectors across Canada work to the same standard. These dedicated individuals are volunteering their efforts to ensure PHPIOs success in Ontario and the success of the National Certification Program across Canada. About The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) also known as CAHPI-Ontario Home inspections began as a consumer service in the 1970’s in direct response to the growing demands by home buyers. It soon became apparent that selecting a home inspector was becoming as important as finding the right home. To meet this need, the Canadian Association of Home Inspectors (CAHI) was formed in 1982, followed by the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) in 1987. The OAHI operated as a chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), until 1994 when the OAHI became a self-regulating professional body with the passage of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act. The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act received royal assent on December 9, 1994, enabling the OAHI to define qualification and performance requirements and the exclusive right to grant the designations “Registered Home Inspector” and “RHI” to qualified members in the Province of Ontario. OAHI is at the leading edge of the North American profession as the first self-regulating home inspection organization, with associations in other jurisdictions following the OAHI’s lead. The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors is dedicated to enhancing the technical skills and professional practice of home inspectors, and maintaining high professional standards through education and discipline. The OAHI Standards of Practice provides inspection guidelines, and the OAHI Code of Conduct defines the member’s responsibility to act in a strictly fair, impartial, and professional manner.

What is a Registered Home Inspector (R.H.I.)? Qualified members of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors have the exclusive right to call themselves RHI’s (Registered Home Inspector) under the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994 (The Ontario Government Bill 158). The Act and the by-laws: Define a home inspection through the Standards of Practice Establish membership criteria Set out a Code of Conduct and Provide for regulation of the professional through the disciplinary process.

WHAT IS AN RHI?  What are the Qualifications? RHI’s must meet specific criteria in the areas of: 1. Education 2. Technical background, and 3. Experience What does this mean to the Home Buyer, Realtor, Lawyer, Banker? Enhanced professional image: putting people in touch with home inspection professionals reinforces your relationship with clients. More protection for you: you reduce your liability for both the condition of the home and the quality of the inspector you recommend when you direct people to members of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. More protection for the home buyer: all Registered Home Inspectors (RHI’s) must have proven ability, training, and experience.  Their Code of Ethics and a Standards of Practice enable quality of service to be provided to the public on a consistent basis. Registered Home Inspectors – RHI’s have met the educational and technical requirements, have passed a certification process, and must maintain ongoing educational upgrading. Registered Home Inspectors (RHI designation) come from many ranks. They have several years of experience in inspections, engineering, architecture, house construction or the building industry. This also applies to  CAHPI – National Certificate Holders. Please note: many home inspection associations have various levels of membership. Being an association member does not necessarily mean that they are fully trained or have successfully completed the designation process and as a bare minimum, carry the RHI designation. Make sure that you are making a fair comparison of inspectors actual home inspection experience and training. Only a fully trained professional home inspector carries the RHI designation. The absolute highest home inspection designation now available nationally in Canada is the new CAHPI – National Certificate Holder. Very few inspectors have yet to gain this very prestigious designation (for more information).

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is also a reputable and well recognized home inspection association who offers membership to qualified inspectors across North America. Here are 20 Important Questions to ask any Home Inspector before hiring them.