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How much should a Professional home Inspection Cost?

and other questions.

Introduction

There are three instances when it is common for people to need a Home or Property Inspection.

The first and most common instance is when a buyer is looking for a report on the condition of the property they are thinking of buying. The second instance is when a seller wants to find out the condition of their property in order to either help market the property for sale or to make repairs on a property before selling. The third most common instance is when an insurance company or lender wants a limited scope condition report on a property for insurance or finance purposes.

In this article, you will learn about what a Home and Property Inspection is for real estate, insurance or finance purposes is. You will learn what a Home Inspector looks at and provides opnions on and what factors determine the type of condition assessment the Inspector will give to components in a property they are inspecting.

You will also gain insight into why Home and Property inspections are important, how to find a Professional Home Inspector to inspect the property, how much you should expect to pay to have a property Inspected in Ontario, and things to consider when getting a home Inspected.

Hopefully, after reading this article on Home & Property Inspections, you will have a clearer understanding of how Home Inspectors work, why Home Inspections are so important, how much you should expect to pay a Home Inspector in Ontario, what to expect when getting a property inspected, and more.

What Is A Home Inspection?

home inspection scope

According to the Canadian Standards Association, CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection Standard a home inspection is intended to be a non-invasive evaluation of the condition and performance of systems and components of a home.

The primary objective is to identify and report any items that do not perform their intended function at the time of the inspection

The focus of a home inspection is typically on significant issues that are both readily visible and accessible to the inspector as opposed to minor building deficiencies.

Inspection of cosmetic, maintenance, and other non-critical items are typically not part of a home inspection, although some inspectors may include these comments as part of their service.

Home inspections are not intended to verify a home’s compliance with codes and regulations (e.g., building codes), because the codes and regulations change over time, and as house ages, it will most likely have many items that function correctly but are not compliant with current codes.

Home inspectors might provide additional services beyond the requirements of this Home Inspection Standard if they are qualified and competent to do so but any additional service provided that is beyond the requirements of the Standard must be made clear through a contractual agreement.

A Home Inspection must include not just the inspection, but a comprehensive, written, report that covers both what the Inspector finds and the opinions the Inspector has upon the condition of the things they see.

A Home Inspection, performed for a buyer or seller, should include all the visible components and systems and major appliances of the home. A Home Inspection performed for an Insurer or lender is likely to be a limited scope inspection that deals with only the major relevant components of the home.

A Home Inspector should not offer limited scope inspections to either a buyer or a seller as these do not give a complete picture of the whole property and any relevant repairs that might affect the budget of the Inspectors client.

Why Is A Home Inspection Important?

Home Inspectors can help sellers sell their homes for an appropriate price that reflects their home’s fair market value because any deficiency is found by the inspection prior to the home going on the market. This allows the seller to either fix the problem or to adjust their expectations of the sale price including the Inspection report as the justification for any adjustment.

Home Inspectors also help ensure that buyers are getting the home they wat and paying the right price for a home based upon the condition of the property and the extent of any repairs or repacements that might be required as found at the time of the inspection.

Home Inspectors also have an important role in real estate transactions financial institutions insurance companies.

A Professional Home Inspector can help lenders decide if a property is a good candidate to lend money against. Insurers can use the reports provided by a Professional Home Inspector to ensure the property is worth underwriting for insurance purposes, or if specific repairs are demanded before such a decision can be made.

Why A Home or Property Inspection Is so Important For Real Estate Transactions?

All property transactions in Ontario, and in fact across Canada are subject to the legal doctrine of ‘Caveat Emptor’. This is often translated into ‘Buyer Beware’.

The term however comes for a longer Latin phrase “Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit” which translates literally to “Let a purchaser beware, for he ought not to be ignorant of the nature of the property which he is buying from another party”.  

What this means is, unless the Seller intentionally hides a known defect from the seller, the buyer is responsible for identifying all and any defects and ascertaining the condition of the property they are purchasing BEFORE they agree to purchase.

As a buyer, you are only protected in law if you have thoroughly covered your obligations to either inspect, and ask relevant questions about, the property yourself or employ a professional to do it for you.

A properly qualified Professional Home Inspector can provide both the full inspection for you, and advise you what relevant questions you need to ask should they find something that looks out of place. The advice you get from an inspector is invaluable in ensuring the home you get is not an hole in which you have to throw unknown amounts of money into for the foreseeable future.

What Is A Home Inspector Looking For When They Are Inspecting a Proprrty?

A side-by-side comparison of the difference between a Buyers/Sellers Home Inspection and a limited scope Insurer/Lender inspection provides a visual reference of why buyers and sellers should ALWAYS demand a Home Inspection performed in accordance with the CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection Standard. It also explains why limited scope inspections should be utilised solely for commercial purposes by insurers and lenders.

Inspection Scope Home Inspection 5-Point Inspection
Intended for Sellers  
Intended for Buyers
Intended for Commercial purposes 
Visible Structural Components of Home (joists, beams, foundation, posts and columns, roof joists and trusses)
Exterior envelope covering (cladding, fascia, soffit, trim)
Exterior access and egress (windows, skylights, doors, exterior handrails, guard)
Driveways, walkways, on-ground ramps, porches, patios, decks and balconies.
Retaining walls and constructed planters.
Adjacent structures (pergolas, trellises, representative fencing)
Exterior water management (gutters, downspouts, visible surface drainage)
Garage Doors, openers and safety-devices
Interior Coverings (wall, floor, ceilings, windows)
Interior stairs, guards and handrails
Electrical Service, Disconnect and ground bonding (type & condition)
Distribution panels and distribution wiring (Type and condition)
Distribution wiring and junction boxes (improper visible wiring)
Electrical outlets, fixtures and fittings (functionality, condition and improper connection)
Life Safety (CO/Smoke detectors, Fire suppression systems availability, separation, egress)
Plumbing into the home (water source)
Visible plumbing within the home (including piping, fixtures and fittings and functionality)
Visible drainage out of home (the type of drainage, type of piping)
Visible drainage within the home (size, venting, condition, functionality)
Flood protection systems (accessible sump pump operation and condition, accessible backflow-preventer location and condition)
Irrigation system (cross-contamination of potable water and potential deterioration of property)
Greywater systems
Water heaters
HVAC Furnace (age and condition)
A/C compressor (age and condition)
HVAC (functionality and normal operation, incl. registers, returns and ductwork/piping)
Mechanical Ventilation Systems
Fireplaces and chimneys
Roof covering (weather tightness, abnormal deflection)

 While this is not intended, circumstances, such as sellers preparing their homes for listing by performing major repairs on defects found, may allow for the use in this area.  The resulting inspection report should not be used as a pre-listing inspection report suggesting a full inspection had occurred.

 While this is not intended, a full inspection could be used by Insurers, Mortgage Providers or Appraiser to supplement their information used to make commercial decisions on a property.

How Do You Find A Professional To Inspect Your Home?

Find an Inspector

Many Realtors know of Inspectors and will readily provide you with the names of one they suggest you use. The problem is, many Realtors don’t know how to choose a professional Inspector from one who just does an OK job.

There have been some claims in the media that some Realtors will refer inspectors that provide what is know as soft-reports. These are reports that either gloss-over some of the defects, minismising their real impact, or reports that are performed to the bare minimum of standards, usually Association written standards, that say more about what the inspector is not going to do, rather than what they are.

This is the first question you should ask your inspector.

What standard do you use when inspecting?

If the answer isn’t “the Canadian StadardsAssociation CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection Standard” then you are likely going to be employing an inspector who uses a mimmum standard and you are not going to get real bang for your buck.

The second question you should ask is:

What Certifications do you have?

Some inspectors claim to have hundreds of certifications. These are the inspectors that collect Certifications as gongs. Really they are no more than a certificate to say they have attended a course. It does not necessarily make them a better inspector.

Some Inspectors say they have years of experience in the construction trade. This doesn’t necessarily make them a better inspector either. After all, isn’t the home you are asking to be inspected built by people in the construction trade? No house is defect-free, not even a new one, so if “Construction trade” was an indication of how good someone was, we wouldn’t need Home Inspectors at all.

There are however a number of Associations in Canada that ensure their inspectors have prior learning, assessed skills and adherence to standards and ethics. These association award their members Certifications if they reach the standard expected of them.

Care should be made when asking even about these certifications. What you want to know is, what level of education does the inspector need to have? does the Association have a mentoring program to keep inspectors relevant? are the edcuational and professional standards audited?

In Ontario, we would recommend the following Certifications from the rlevant Associations as being good starting points to ascertain how well the inspector is trained, and maintains theri standards.

Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

 


CCHI Designation

Yes, that’s us. You would think we would promote our own Inspectors, but the truth is of the 700+ inspectors who have registered as Inspectors with us, only around 40 have achieved and managed to maintain the Canadian-Certified Home Inspector (CCHI) designation.
We make no apology for this, as we strive to ensure CCHI inspectors are at the highest level of skills, ethical practice and professional standards and we won’t compromise our certification process for more membership.
The CCHI designation requires 220 hours of education, proctored examinations, Peer reviews, Police background check and mandatory Errors and Ommissions Insurance.
A CCHI Inspector is required to re-affirm their police status each year and re-provide a PBC every five years as well as maintain their professional and educational development, with bi-annual recertification examinations. Everything is closely audited to ensure no inspector slips through a back-door into this certification.

Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors

This is a National Association that offers two designations

  • National Certificate Holder®
  • Registered Home Inspector (RHI)®

More information about these designations and what an inspector must do to get them can be found here on the CAHPI site.

Ontario Association of Home Inspectors

This provinical association offers one designation

  • Registered Home Inspector or R.H.I.

More information about these designations and what an inspector must do to get them can be found here on the OAHI site.

National Home Inspector Certification Council

The NHICC is not a Home Inspector Association as such, but is more of a credentialing body. The provide an independent service that assesses the prior learning of an inspector, their skills levels and capabilities. They award sucessful candidates the National Home Inspector designation.

More can be found about the NHICC and their credentialling program here

Find an Inspector

We offer a search function that allows you to search for inspectors in your area. Our database covers any inspector who registers with us. They have the opportunity to supply any of their credentials, regardless of the Association membership, and these credentials are available for the public to see through the search system. Unfortunately, we do not have the manpower, to audit non-members, so we give the public the option of searching for any registered inspector or solely members.
Members are required to comply with the CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection Standard and our code of ethics and work towards CCHI certification.

The find and inspector link can be found here: https://ontarioachi.ca/search-for-an-inspector/

How Much Will A Home Inspection Cost In Ontario?

If you are getting your home inspected by a Professional Home Inspector who is fully insured, professionally certified and complies with the CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection standard you should expect inspections to start at around $525 plus HST.

How much you will end up paying will depend on a variety of factors. The size, type and age of the home will affect any additional costs. homes with multiple units tend to cost more to inspect than a smaller home. Multiple kitchens might add costs to the inspection price, and unattached buildings are considered out-of-scope unless bargained for. These will also accrue an additional fee.

While Swimming pool safety aspects are part of the CAN/CSA A770-16 Standard, and should be included in the price, things like Septic System, Well and Hot Tub Inspections will all be extra.

A Home Inspector normally bases the price you pay upon the time it takes them to inspect the property, analyse and photos and produce the report.

Here’s why Inspections should cost what we suggest:

A Home Inspector should be expected to earn at least the Average Salary in Ontario. That currently stands at $55,500 per year.

To earn that level of salary, the Inspector should be fully trained, fully equiped and drive a reliable vehicle. They should also have their own website, marketing and branded clothing etc.

You would expect them to be fully insured, belong to a professional association and utilise state of the art report writing software. Here’s how the costs for that break down.

  Per month Per year
Vehicle Lease $350.00 $4,200.00
Vehicle Insurance $300.00 $3,600.00
E&O insurance $410.00 $4,920.00
Gas & Mileage $200.00 $2,400.00
Phone & Internet $175.00 $2,100.00
Software subs $50.00 $600.00
Amortized tools/training $260.93 $3,131.16
Association Membership $15.42 $185.04
Branding $150.00 $1,800.00
Minimum operating costs $1,911.35 $22,936.20
Salary $4,625.00 $55,500.00*
Salaried Operating costs $6,536.35 $78,436.16
Minimum operating costs for a Professional Home Inspection Service provider (assuming 5-year amortization of assets)
* Average Ontario Salary as at January 2020

We can see from these figures that in order to earn a basic wage a Home Inspector has to have a gross income of over $6,300 a month.

A Home Inspection should take a minimum of 2½ hours to perform each inspection, and generally requires another 1½ to 2½ for travel time, report production and general administrative time to manage the inspection. This means, in order to do their job professionally, a Home Inspector should only be able to provide a maximum of 2 inspections per day.

The average number of inspections, per inspector, per week in Ontario is between 2 and 4. Sure some inspectors are doing many more, but many more are doing less, so this average is about accurate. That’s between 8 and 16 inspections per month.

When you divide the $6,536.35 by 8 and 16, you get $817.04 and $408.52 respectively. The average of that is $612.78. This assumes the inspector works every week!

If you, like everyone else in the country, allow your inspectors the benefit of 3 weeks off each year and expect them to maintain the average inspection rates for the rest of the year, the average price expected to pay per inspection is $650.30!

This is for a standard home inspection, of a property 2000 sq. ft. or less, performed to the CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection Standard and by a Professional Inspector who has the right tools, right education and sufficient insurance coverage and business planning to provide you with a professional service.

This is why we suggest the average price of an inspection should start here. Obviously, if the inspection takes the inspector longer, because of the size or the complexity of the home, then the Inspection price is likely to rise.

A sample guide of expected prices is given below to guide how much you should expect to pay.

Inspection Service Offered
Lower limit
Upper Limit
Residential Home Inspection    
     Heated Sq Ft 0 – 2,000 $475.00 $650.00
     Heated Sq Ft 2,000 – 3,000 $550.00 $725.00
     Heated Sq Ft 3,000 – 4,000 $625.00 $800.00
     Heated Sq Ft 4,000 – 5,000 $700.00  $880.00
     Heated Sq Ft Over 5,000 $775.00  $965.00
     Additional Heated Sq Ft Over 5,000 (per 1,000 square foot)  $ 35.00  $ 45.00
Thermal Heat-loss imaging (as part of the inspection)  $ 95.00  $120.00
Older  home addition (usually 40-50 years)  $ 55.00  $ 75.00
Multi-Residential (common areas and building envelope)  $450.00  $600.00
     Multi-Residential units (per unit)  $ 85.00  $ 125.00
2nd Kitchen & appliances (e.g. Basement Kitchen)  $ 75.00  $ 95.00
Mileage (per Km each way because the inspection is over 50kms)
     This surcharge takes account of extra time needed for travel
 $  0.55  $    0.85
Visual Hot Tub Inspection  $ 75.00  $ 95.00
Visual Sauna Inspection  $ 75.00  $ 95.00
Extra Residential Building (Small 0- 250 sq. ft) (e.g detached garage, large shed, pool cabana)  $ 80.00  $100.00
Extra Res. Building (Large > 750 sq.ft) (e.g. barn)
     expect to pay more if the building is heated or has more than one level
 $130.00  $160.00
Prices clients can expect to pay for a Professional Home Inspection

Some Inspectors charge well below these prices. They do this because they say their overheads are lower. This may be true, for example,

  • they may not have all the equipment, customer service (e.g. websites, business cards or professional branding) you might expect from a Professional Home Inspector.
  • They might be a part-time inspector and have lower income needs
  • They may not be insured
  • They may be performing a lot more inspections, and therefore consider that keeping their costs lower will increase their business

The last point means they will be likely to be paying less attention to each inspection, something we are against as we are trying to push higher standards of inspections not lower.

The question you need to ask when you see a low price Inspector is “Will you be getting the service you deserve?”
After all, this is your future you are placing in the hands of the inspector.

Discount Inspectors

We’d also like to address the issue of “discount” Inspectors. Inspectors frequently here clients ask, “will you give a dicount for cash?” or “will you knock off the HST if I pay in cash?”. Inspectors that do this are operating unprofessionally, unethically and probably illegally.

Every Home Inspection should be accompanied by an itemising the tax where necessary.
You will need one of these to offset against your taxes if you are moving for work or as otherwise allowed to by the CRA.

If an inspector offers to “knock off” HST for cash, then they are prepared to defraud the CRA, so what does this say about their responsibility to you?

Some inspectors say they give a discount because they don’t take long at the inspection or they can do a limited scope inspection.
Anyone who says they can regularly perform a home inspection in less than 1½ hours for a single-family home should be avoided.
You are NOT getting the service you deserve.

Selecting your inspector – How not to start your selection process.

From an Inspectors point of view, we are approached by many people looking for a Home Inspection. We hear all manner of things that make us cringe. Here’s a few things to bear in mind when you are selecting an inspector and talking to them on the phone.

  1. Don’t start by asking how much an inspection will cost
    First and foremost, it makes you come across as cheap. You are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, but, the very person you want to rely on to ensure that the home is in good condition, you are going to select on price? It’s also a question we can’t answer if it’s your first one. We don’t know how big or how complex the home is, or where it is located or how old it is.
  2. Don’t ask if we are insured so you can sue if something goes wrong
    Sure ask if we are insured, a Professional home Inspector should be. Instead, ask do we have full professional indemnity insurance. This means both E&O, that protects you and the Inspector as well as General Liability Insurance, which protects the Inspector and existing homeowner. If you let us know your first thought is of a lawsuit, it doesn’t fill us with confidence in having you as a client.
  3. Don’t lie to get the price down
    If you tell us a home is 2,000 sq. ft and we turn up and find it’s double that, we are going to increase our price accordingly. Similarly, if the home has two kitchens, let us know. Sure the price will go up, but we will allow extra time for the inspection. If we have more than one inspection that day, another client could be relying on us to turn up at a certain time, if an inspection overruns because of components that are not disclosed, it presents an unprofessional picture of the inspector. We like to tell you a price and time, to perform the inspection, and stick to it. Your honesty will help.
  4. Give us as much notice as possible
    We realize that sometimes situations can get tight, you may be waiting on finance, or tenants, but bear in mind that we need to get a contract to you, and have sufficient time for you to read it. Asking an inspector for an inspection the same day creates a situation where you may not be aware of the limitations and exclusions an inspection carries or the price being charged. Some inspectors may charge a premium for short notice appointments because their liability is increased.
  5. Ask us about our skills and experience
    People love to talk about themselves, and Inspectors are no different. If we’ve gone to all the trouble of getting first-class training, maintaining our skills, getting recognized accreditation and are proud to be members of professional organizations, we would love to tell you. It also tells you if the inspector is a gong collector when they reel off hundreds of meaningless certifications too. Ask how long we’ve been doing the job and how many inspections we’ve performed. It doesn’t take a math genius to realize if someone has been inspecting five years and they’ve performed thousands of inspections, they are probably not doing the job right.
  6. Ask what Standards we perform our inspection to
    The response should be that the inspector complies with, or exceeds, the full requirements of the Canadian Standards Association CAN/CSA A770-16 Home Inspection Standard. Anything else says more about what you are not going to get rather than what you are.
  7. Ask how long it takes to provide the inspection report
    The majority of inspectors will provide a report within 24 hours of the end of the inspection. While it may sound nice to find that the inspector will provide the report at the end of the inspection, this is not really of great service to you. Your realtor will be wanting you to fulfill the Home Inspection Condition, and you will not have had time to read the inspection thoroughly. Also, Professional home Inspectors will take notes on Inspection software, and take addition voice notes, photos, videos and sometimes 360 photographs at the inspection. The delay gives the inspection time to analyze this extra media to ensure they’ve missed nothing. This gives you a much better report, better peace of mind and better protection.

    Two final things. After the inspection, when the Inspector has provided you with the report…
  8. Read the report in its entirety and call the Inspector to ask questions about any concerns you have
    Every inspector has their own way of putting things in writing, but we all want to do one thing. Keep everyone out of court. An Inspector may write something in the report that sounds really scary, a quick conversation with the Inspector will help you understand the true extent of the Inspector’s concerns. For example, we may talk about modern electrical concerns and refer to an electrician. Understanding the reasons behind this comment may lead you to select a different path.
  9. If the Inspector recommends something, follow through on it
    You engaged us and paid us for our advice. Don’t ignore it. Either follow up with the inspector or just do what they tell you. If you don’t, you have no-one but yourself to blame if something goes wrong after the event.

About OntarioACHI

Founded in 2012 the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors is a not-for-profit association of members with aims to improve the quality and standing of Home and Property Inspection for the benefit of consumers and our profession. The association is run by, and for, Home & Property Inspectors in Ontario. Our goal is to ensure all Home Inspectors are qualified to the highest standards and comply with the most exacting professional Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice and Duty of Care. A consumer hiring an OntarioACHI qualified Canadian-Certified Home Inspector (CCHI) will know they have they hired a truly Professional Home Inspector.
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