Montreal home inspection

If I Had A Crystal Ball. But I Don’t…

If I Had A Crystal Ball. But I Don’t…

I can’t believe we are at the end of August.  I hope you have been having a wonderful summer.  Fall is now in our sights and a new wonderful season to be enjoyed.  So, I am going to share a little something on issues that arise during a Montreal home inspection and will use windows as a venue to explain my point.

One of the things we must understand when a home is inspected is that the inspection is a snapshot in time.  Let me explain by using a metaphor.  Imagine  going into the garden to inspect a plant.  At the time the plant is inspected it was evident that the plant would soon flower and some photos were taken.  Basically, the plant looked healthy at the time it was observed and as seen in the photo.

However, during the next two weeks the plant is attacked by insects that prevented it from flowering and the owner blames you for not warning him/her of the sickly plant and expects you to pay for the replacement of the plant. Well, inspectors don’t carry a crystal ball around with them.  Prediction is not part of a home inspection. 

Let’s now imagine the plant to be some other home material instead.  ”The inspection cannot identify conditions which are hidden or not visually determinable. The inspection cannot predict any future adverse conditions including, but not limited to, roof leaks, component failures, or the remaining service life of any applicable system or component. Any system or component, regardless of age, can fail catastrophically at any time and without any indication of impending failure.”

Now lets specifically target windows. That is, the client is blaming the inspector for not reporting fogging windows. 

Thermal pane or insulated glass windows have two or three panes of glass which are separated by layers of an inert gas argon, or krypton.  During the manufacturing process the moisture laden air is removed, the inert gas is inserted and the panes are sealed to prevent gas leakage.  However, due to many factors such as, thermal expansion, exterior wall movement, stress, poor installation and age, cause these seals to break.  Once broken, the inert gas leaks out, the moisture laden air seeps in and over time the window becomes cosmetically marred by condensation, foggy film or a smoky haze.  It can occur as early as 6 months to 6 years after manufacture or installation.  It is not a failure of the window, per se, since light is allowed in and weather is kept out.  However, many clients feel it is not an attractive feature to live with and often choose to have the window replaced, resulting in expensive replacement.

The inspection report is documenting a snap shot in time and the inspector can only write up what is seen.  If the inspectors report shows photos of windows that are clear, he or she cannot be held liable for windows that are discovered a month later to be fogged.

The window must be clearly and obviously degraded in relation to the conditions of light, the cleanliness of the windows, and the accessibility to view the window(s) during the short time period we are inspecting the house. When low light levels are present, the windows are covered in grime, located on tall walls, or concealed by window coverings; a slightly faded or fogged window may not be noted or reported. Therefore it is incumbent on the client to closely view the windows during their pre-closing walk-through to ensure the windows meet their satisfaction.

Conditions indicating a broken seal are not always visible or present and may not be apparent or visible at the time of inspection. Changing conditions such as temperature, humidity, and lighting limit the ability of the inspector to visually review these windows for broken seals. It is therefore recommended that for more complete information on the condition of all double glazed windows, the client should consult the seller as well as the Seller’s Declaration prior to closing.  

Inspectors would love nothing better than to have a crystal ball. But we don’t and that’s why we have the inspector’s agreement containing the conditions, exemptions and limitations during an inspection.  Inspectors provide a very valuable service to the home selling and buying community and do so in the client’s interest. When I inspect a property, I do so as if I were purchasing the house and or condo for myself.  If fogging shows up on the windows a month later, I can reason why and move on.  

I hope this sheds a little light on things.  Happy home hunting!

Should you require the services of a home inspector please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with me: Geoffrey Darwent at 514-233-1300 or by email to 

I am a Certified Professional Inspector® trained by InterNACHI the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors which is the world’s largest nonprofit association of residential and commercial property inspectors, and provides education, training, certification, benefits and support for its members. I am also a member of Internachi Québec 

InterNACHI-Certified Professional Inspectors® are required to pass an Inspector Exam, follow a comprehensive Standards of Practice, abide by a strict Code of Ethics, and take accredited Continuing Education courses each year in order to maintain their membership in good standing.

I have acquired extensive home inspector training through InterNACHI’s rigorous Continuing Education curriculum, which includes dozens of live classroom, online, and video training courses, written by experts in their field, which have received more than 1,400 accreditations by state and governmental agencies throughout North America.

In order to become certified, I was required to take inspection courses related to the interior and exterior of the home, including the common and major areas of concern for home buyers, such as the foundation, heating and cooling, roof, plumbing, and electrical systems.

Here is the list of InterNACHI courses required for initial certification:

    • Safe Practices for the Home Inspector
    • 25 Standards Every Inspector Should Know
    • Residential Plumbing Overview for Inspectors
    • How to Perform Residential Electrical Inspections
    • How to Perform Roof Inspections
    • How to Inspect HVAC Systems
    • Structural Issues for Home Inspectors
    • How to Inspect the Exterior
    • How to Inspect the Attic, Insulation, Ventilation and Interior
    • How to Perform Deck Inspections
    • How to Inspect for Moisture Intrusion
    • How to Inspect Fireplaces, Stoves, and Chimneys

The Province of Québec does not require licensing of home inspectors; however, the certifications and Continuing Education required by InterNACHI are more than adequate training as a certified inspector so that I can provide sufficient and accurate information regarding a home’s condition. 

Geoffrey Darwent
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