What is a building inspection and why is it so important?

By Jennifer Lynn Walker

A building inspection is one of the most important steps in the process when purchasing a new property.

In fact, it is one of the most popular conditions included when real estate brokers write up your promise to purchase.


A building inspection tells you exactly what you are buying in terms of the structure and health of the building. It lets you know the repairs that are needed immediately, and which can be left for a future date. This way you can accurately budget your current and future costs.

What does an inspector do?

Usually an inspector charges around $600 or more. The cost depends on the driving distance to get to the property, the size of the structure and the equipment needed to inspect it.

Inspectors arrive with their ladders, flashlights and tools, ready to climb around so they can accurately assess each part of your future home.

If they arrive in a suit, thank them nicely and tell them that you have changed your mind. You want your inspector to get “down and dirty” to find out all the details of the building —climbing on the roof, in the attic, and going down into the crawl space etc.

That said, keep in mind this is a visual inspection. An inspector will not open up a wall or break through concrete. They are general practitioners. If they suspect a larger problem, they will note in their report that you need to contact a domain-specific professional.

Also find out more about inspectors using a Thermal Imaging Device

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What is a building inspection and why is it so important?

What to ask when choosing an inspector
When you call around for quotes, ask what is involved in the inspection, how the report is prepared, what it will look like, and how long will it take to produce. Most inspectors will give a timeline of approximately 48 hours. The report will usually come in a pdf format with pictures and details. It may also have clickable links for more information.
Inspectors should let you walk around with them, though you won’t be allowed on the roof unless you are insured to do so.
After the inspection is completed, the inspector will normally give you an on-the-spot verbal report of their findings.


Deadlines to keep in mind
Most promise-to-purchase documents allow 7-10 calendar days for you to get the inspection done. If that isn’t enough time, you can negotiate. It is also pre-written in the real estate mandatory forms that there is an extra four days to respond if you have any concerns after the inspection.
If you don’t respond, (after 7-10 days + 4 days) you have automatically accepted the condition of the building inspection and your chance to renegotiate is waived. So be sure to respond quickly if you have found something you need to discuss with the seller. Those days go by fast!


Renegotiating after the inspection
When you buy a house, you should expect normal wear and tear. Be prepared to find a lot of little things here and there. New buyers who’ve never owned a property before can get overwhelmed by this information. A general rule given by many experts is that you can expect to spend 1% of the purchase price on repairs for older homes.
Be on the lookout for something that significantly reduces the value of the building such as the need for foundation repairs, a new roof, major brickwork, or window replacement. When you find a problem of this magnitude, ask yourself if your accepted offer price still reflects the value of the building. If not, it’s time to re-think your position and re-negotiate.
Whenever buying a property, the popular opinion is to always get an inspection.


It’s good advice regardless of whether you are buying a new condo or an old fixer-upper. It’s even a smart move if you are planning tear apart the house apart and renovate.
An inspection provides a great reference point and ensures you are taking the proper steps to protect the value of your new asset well into the future.

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Real Estate Broker & Educator

Jennifer Lynn Walker has specialized in buying and selling both residential and multiplex properties since 2003. She’s built a strong network of specialist, to give her clients a seamless experience throughout the real estate journey. Founder of Montreal Real Estate Investor’s Group, and Jolly Green Homes.  How can I help you today?