Home Inspection


Buying a Calgary home for sale, especially a resale home, without a physical inspection can be like buying a used car without taking it to a mechanic first. A home inspection costs in the $250-$350 range, depending on the size of the home and other variables, but can be well worth the money in peace of mind. Following are some inspection areas that maybe looked at on your own. However, do not attempt any investigations if you are not qualified.

An inspection of a property will take about two to three hours, and the inspector will examine the house from the ground up. This would include heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, appliances, structural components of the roof, foundation, basement and exterior and interior.


However, there are some basic areas that you can check yourself:

Roof Type   Average Life Spans
Composite shingles   15 - 22 years
Wood shingle   15 - 20 years
Heavy shake   25 - 30 years
Tile   40 plus years


Naturally, exposure to the elements and upkeep effect life expectancy.

Electrical system:

  • Check all of the outlets with an electrical tester.
  • Look for exposed wiring and aluminum wiring
  • Check the service panel for "tripped" breakers or "blown" fuses

Heating/cooling:

  • Activate the thermostat to the "on" position.
  • Walk around the house and check the vents for airflow.

Water pressure:

  • Turn on sink and shower taps and flush the toilets.

Pipes/plumbing:

  • Examine floor areas around the tub and shower for signs of moisture.
  • Check all exposed pipes at joints for visible corrosion, especially at the water heater.

Doors/windows:

  • Open and close all windows and doors
  • Windows and doors should open and close easily.

Drainage:

  • Look for evidence of ponding, discoloration and sunken elevations.
  • Check gutters and downspouts.

Appliance check:

  • Oven: turn oven to 350 F and check the oven temperature in 10 minutes.
  • Range: ignite burners and smell for any gas odor, or, for electric ranges, check for cold spots
  • Dishwasher: let it run through a cycle.
  • Other appliances: check garbage disposal, hoodfans, trash compactors, etc.


Use a Qualified Inspector:

Although you may feel ready to tackle many of the items that we have discussed there are areas and specific problem situations where the experience and training of a qualified inspector will be well worth the fee they charge. The following is a list of items to definitely leave for the pros.


  • Furnaces boiler systems & exchangers.
  • Electrical panels.
  • Shake roofs.
  • Aluminum Wiring

This information is not warranted in any way or is it meant to replace a qualified inspection and should not be used as such. A few hundred dollars spent on an inspection can potentially save thousands.


If you are not qualified in building inspection specifically or construction generally you should not attempt a home inspection on your own. Look in the business directory of the yellow pages under Home Inspectors, check with the Better Business Bureau or ask your Realtor to recommend a company.


Inspection Hot Topics:

Three major issues have been under debate in Alberta over the last couple of years. These are Poly "B" plumbing pipe, pine shake roofs and aluminum wiring.

Poly B piping is the medium gray water pipe that thousands of Alberta homes have to distribute the water around the home. As far as Poly B piping goes the problems with this were pretty much isolated to the southern United States markets.


The highest degree of failure was in mobile homes where the pipe was often run in the ceiling space. The extreme heat caused the pipe to fail because it became to soft. Rarely have there been failures in Alberta in fact I am told that if Poly B was still available it would be installed in Alberta but it is off the market because there is no U.S. market demand.


Since we can't buy Poly B Canadians have switched to the new Pex pipe along with our friends south of the border.

Pine shake roofs are another thing altogether. Because of the humidity that we experience a mold will grow under and in untreated pine shakes. If the shakes were treated originally they seem to be all right but the problem is knowing if they were treated.


Apparently, the best way to check is to cut away a portion of the shake and see if there is any green staining below the surface. The green is residue from the treatment that preserves the shake. The tell tale sign of problems is if you notice any black spots on the roof. The mold deteriorates the shake and causes premature failure.

The last issue is that of aluminum wiring. This is generally not a problem; there are thousands of Alberta homes with aluminum wiring. These homes were built in the early to mid nineteen seventies when copper prices went through the roof.


If there is a problem it will usually arise at the kitchen receptacles because they tend to get the most use. If you put your hand on any of these and the receptacle feels warm to the touch it should be investigated.

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The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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