Winnipeg Home Inspections: What to Look For?

A home inspector inspecting a home

When looking to buy a home, a home inspection is a great way to get peace of mind and fully understand what you are buying. Jeremy Winton, a home inspector in Manitoba says that a home inspection is “the best way to protect your investment and make you aware of the full condition of the house”.

“A home inspection gives you a more in-depth look at a house,” Winton says. “Viewing a home gives you 15 – 20 minutes and you’ll only be looking at superficial items to make sure it looks nice, and if you don’t have experience, you won’t know what to look at.”

Getting a home inspection means you’ll have two – three hours in the house, and receive the perspective of a third party. “When I inspect a home, I am thorough,” Winton says. “I’ll go into crawl spaces, go on the roof and check everything, everywhere.”

But what makes a good home inspector and what should they look for, specifically in Winnipeg?

What makes a good home inspector?

When looking for a home inspector, Winton recommends someone who has trade experience, a construction background and experience in the area of inspecting homes. “They will know first hand what they’re looking at when inspecting,” Winton says. He also recommends checking to make sure they are certified by the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI).

In Manitoba, home inspectors do not require a license to perform home inspections so it is very important to understand the qualifications of a home inspector.

“Before hiring a home inspector, talk to them and ask questions. Treat it as a job interview,” Winton says. Your home is likely to be the biggest investment you ever make, so you should make sure the home inspector you hire is able to confidently answer your questions.

Here are some questions to ask your potential home inspector:

  1. What experience/training do you have?

    (Tip: Look for trade experience, construction background and experience inspecting homes)

  2. Are you CAHPI certified?
  3.  

  4. Do you have experience specifically in this neighborhood and with this style/age of home?
  5.  

  6. Can you provide references?

    (Tip: Hearing from someone who has worked with your potential home inspector is a great way to get feedback) 

  7. Will there be a written contract?
  8.  

  9. What will be included in the report?
  10.  

  11. How quickly could you get the inspection and report completed?
  12.  

Their answers should leave you feeling confident in the fit between the home inspector’s training and experience and the home you are looking to buy.

What should home inspectors look for?

“Every neighbourhood has its own challenges and quirks,” Winton says. For instance, if you’re looking to buy a home outside of Winnipeg, you will have septic fields and tanks to contend with. “Within Winnipeg, each neighbourhood has its own traits; some have more water issues than others, or the foundation issues that are typical of Winnipeg because of the age of the houses,” Winton says.

  1. Foundation

    Foundation issues are common in Winnipeg. “This is because we experience a large range of temperatures and we have a lot of groundwater,” Winton says. Winnipeg is an area with high water tables, which means the ground is soft and constantly moving and shifting.

    Winton says your home inspector should look for shifting and foundation cracks. If you do see cracks, keep in mind that not all cracks are detrimental. A home inspector will be able to take a thorough look at the house and provide a report, detailing what they have found. “In essence, all cracks can be managed in different ways,” Winton says, and your home inspection will advise on what would need to be done.

  2. Roof

    Your home inspector should examine the roof of your home to determine its condition and the quality of the shingles. If the weather allows for it, they will go onto the roof to do this inspection. “Your inspector will be looking to see if the roof is square and to ensure that the roof pitch is straight,” Winton says. “This helps us determine if the home is sitting level.”

  3. Basement

    Moisture in a basement can signify foundation issues. Your home inspector should examine the basement in search of moisture or signs that there has been moisture in the basement in the past.

  4. Heating, Cooling and Electrical

    Your home inspector should examine the heating and cooling systems of your home to determine age and condition, as well as flag any potential issues that would need to be addressed. The electrical systems of the home will be checked to ensure that the wiring is up to code.

  5. Walls, Floors, Windows and Plumbing

    A review of the interior of the house should be conducted to determine any problems or repairs that need to be done, or potential issues that were addressed in the past. One common thing your home inspector should examine is whether the floors sit flat. 

  6. Wood Burning Appliances
  7. Please note that inspectors require an additional certification (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) to inspect wood burning appliances. Typically, this inspection will add time and cost to the inspection so this requirement would need to be clarified prior to the inspection.

    With wood burning appliances such as a fireplace, there are many things that can impact whether it can be used safely or not. If there is a nest in the chimney, for instance, this is a fire and carbon monoxide hazard. Getting an inspection will let you know if the fireplace can be used safely immediately upon possession or if maintenance work is needed beforehand.

What do I do with this Information?

Your home inspector will give you a full report on the condition of the home, which will give you a good picture of what repairs would be needed and the potential costs. This will help you determine how much you want to pay for the home, bearing in mind the repairs or renovations that will be required.

While some home inspectors may provide a rough estimation of cost, it can also be valuable to obtain formal quotes from various contractors for major repairs.

House hunting? Learn How to Find your Home in Winnipeg’s Hot Housing Market.

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