Inspecting a home

Inspecting A Home As A System

Inspecting A Home As A System

When inspecting a home as a system, we need to understand that these components are part of a system.  Plumbing components for example, could affect the roof negatively if the vent stacks for plumbing that travel through the ceiling, into the attic and out through the roof, are not sealed and or insulated properly.  

Let’s say we are in the middle of winter and heat is escaping into the attic through an improperly sealed venting stack.  The warm air comes in contact with the cold attic air and forms condensation.  The condensation will accumulate into ice buildup since the temperature in the attic is below freezing.  Water damage will ensue once the temperatures in the attic start to rise and the ice turns into liquid.  Pool (s) of water are formed and the beginning of water infiltration becomes inevitable.

In conclusion, both individual systems are performing in the way that these are supposed to .  However, the roofing system is affected where it meets with the plumbing system.

This principle helps us understand how inspecting one area of a house can affect another area.  Inspectors are trained to identify these signs regardless of what section of the house are being checked.   So even though the plumbing and roof systems are being inspected, the interactions of these are being observed for deficiencies as well.

The above mentioned issues are easily resolved and are by no means a deal breaker.  Having a home inspected whether selling or buying is a good thing because it provides awareness of issues that if not corrected can end up being costlier over time.  So basically, an inspectors priority is to recognize major defects that would raise concern for the buyer.  However, throughout the inspection smaller items of concern are reported as well as part of the complete inspection report.

The purpose of the inspection report is to provide valuable information that allows the buyer to make an informed decision, prepare and plan for the necessary repairs and or maintenances for the newly purchased home.

When an offer to purchase a house/condo is made, conditional to a home inspection, it is evident that the client has their heart set on the home in question.  The last thing the inspector wants to do is to take that away from the potential buyer.  However, the inspector also has a legal responsibility to address any relevant deficiencies, not including hidden defects, and report these to the client as per standards of practice.

How the inspector communicates these deficiencies to the client is important.  For example, let’s say that in the bathroom there is no GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) receptacle present.  If the inspector informs the client that a person can be electrocuted at any time and you must bring in an electrician to rectify the issue immediately and don’t use the bathroom until corrected and so forth and continues with this type of alarmist communication throughout the inspection, the client will no doubt be overwhelmed with unnecessary concern.  I am exaggerating somewhat with the above mentioned example to get the message across but you get the idea.

Proper communication to the client on observed issues discovered by the inspector provides information  that educates the client as opposed to alarming the client.  It’s not to say that the client will not be concerned over a certain issue presented by the inspector but, it should be a concern within the context of the situation at hand.

Whether it’s an old house full of character or a new house with all the trimmings, in the client’s eyes, it’s home.

Geoffrey Darwent CPI                                                                                                                                                                           Montreal Residential Home Building Inspector|Internachi                                                                   

Feature photo by Daniel Von Appen

Geoffrey Darwent
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