One of our clients, a first time buyer, asked us an excellent question recently: “Should I get an inspection if my condo is less than 5 years old?”
Here’s our take:
The primary purpose of an inspection is to identify any issues with the building or the unit, which could affect your decision to buy the condo, or the price you pay for it. Although inspections are optional and are paid for by the buyer (they can range between $300-$700 based on square footage), we would never recommend waiving your rights to an inspection before notarizing on your purchase.
Why are inspections important?
The results of a home inspection should be factored into your offer price, since they indicate how much you will have to spend on the unit after purchasing it. A new condo is unlikely to have any major hidden defects, but may include smaller repairs that you will have to take on eventually, as a homeowner. For example:
- Faulty furnaces or air conditioning units
- Insulation issues
- Low water pressure in the showers or faucets
- Water damage on the floors or walls
- Signs of moisture on the walls
- Electrical or plumbing issues
- Architectural elements which are not up to code
In many cases, these smaller damages will go unnoticed by the previous owners, and therefore will not be included in the seller’s declaration.
What about pre-construction units / new builds?
Brand new condominiums owners will be offered a pre-delivery inspection (PDI). However, we recommend that buyers also hire a third party professional who can provide an in-depth an unbiased opinion before the possession date. While a PDI records any damaged or incomplete items in the architecture or finishings of the new condo, it should not be viewed as a replacement for a home inspector.
Typically, a PDI is limited to material objects on the surface level – for example, counter tops, windows, and flooring. It will not include a deeper inspection of the plumbing, outlets, or electrical circuits.
“A week before moving into our pre-fab condo, our independent inspector discovered a missing piece in the plumbing which our pre-delivery inspector had overlooked. We had the issue fixed just in time, and in doing so avoided potential water damage to our brand new home. It would have been a major hassle. – Anais, buyer”
If an issue is discovered during a home inspection, the report should be forwarded to the developers and fixed before your move-in date.
What can you expect during a home inspection?
A typical condo inspection will last between 1.5 and 3 hours. You should be present along with your real estate agent, so that you are able to get a first-hand explanation of the findings on the inspection report, and so that you can ask questions if necessary. An inspection report will include safety issues, major defects, and minor defects. It will also indicate the items or fixtures which will need to be repaired, serviced or replaced in the near future.
An inspector is unlikely to give you a quote on how much the repairs will cost, but a contractor will be able to rely on the report when providing you with their estimate.
Here are some of the issues that may surface in an inspection report:
- Physical damage to the walls, such as cracks or missing siding
- Foundation issues such as settling
- Problems with the garage or carport, such as ventilation issues or carbon monoxide
- Plumbing issues such as leaks, water pressure or damage to the pipes
- Electrical issues such as fire hazards or faulty circuit interruptors
- HVAC issues such as insufficient insulation or weak air conditioners
- Faulty kitchen appliances
- Poorly maintained exhaust systems
- Fire safety
- Bathroom issues such as unsecured toilets, inadequate ventilation, or mildew.
What should you do with the results of your home inspection?
Once you’ve received your home inspection report, you can use the results to revise your offer price, change the terms of your offer, or cancel your offer in the case of major issues.
When it comes to a new construction, you can forward the inspection results to your developer, to insure that everything is up to code before you move in.