Three Reasons Why You Should Get a Home Inspection

Shane Serra - Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why get a home inspection? One could spend a lot of time debating why they should have a home inspection performed prior to purchasing a new or resale home. Here are three solid reasons for why you should consider having a home inspection if buying a home.

Gives You Peace of Mind

First good reason to have a home inspection performed is for peace of mind. There are so many things that happen during a real estate transaction; it can easily become stressful and overwhelming. With all these distractions hitting you from all angles, it can be difficult to have a really good look at the home your thinking of buying with all this background “noise” stealing your attention. While some people may have the amount of knowledge and experience needed to really have a good look at that house you want to buy, it is a fact that most buyers will not have the skills needed to conduct a thorough inspection that will give them the peace of mind they want prior to finalizing their purchase. Hiring a professional home inspector eases the burden on the people buying the home knowing that a second set of qualified eyes is checking that house in your best interest. Regardless of what the outcome of the inspection is, you get peace of mind knowing it was inspected by a pro.

Helps Make an Informed Decision

The second good reason to have a home inspection performed is to help you make an informed decision. Again, regardless of the results of your home inspection, good, bad or somewhere in between, you now have as much info about the home that you can reasonably expect when working through the transaction process. This in turn will help you make an informed decision and will help you set a realistic expectation for what to budget for if you decide to purchase the home. Perhaps the outcome isn’t to the buyers liking and this will also help them move forward in their search for the right home.

Get a Non Biased Third Party Opinion

The third reason to have an inspection performed is to get a non-biased neutral third party opinion about the condition of the home. Most people won’t argue that emotions can have a significant impact on ones decision making ability. If you take that emotion out of the equation it can provide a sense of clarity prior to making that final move on whether to go ahead and seal the deal on the home. Hopefully this provides some insight as to why one should seriously consider having a home inspection conducted when buying a new or resale home.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, mould inspections and thermal imaging in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Collingwood and across Simcoe County.

Common Misconceptions of What Is Included In a Home Inspection

Shane Serra - Friday, January 15, 2016


You’ve just bought your new home, time to get that home inspection booked, right? Most people make the assumption that a home inspector is going to check every little thing inside and out of the house and everything within the property itself.

WRONG! Let’s go back a second here and start again. You are going to book a “home inspection”, right? Okay, so that would mean an inspection of the home itself, not everything on the property and under the sun. Clear as mud yet? Let’s dig a bit deeper here...

A home inspection can be defined as such:

“A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property, performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by set Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector”.

Now without turning this into an explicit multi page document, basically a home inspection is just that, an inspection of the home itself, nothing more, nothing less.

Many people assume that a home inspector will inspect items such as pools, saunas, hot tubs, irrigation systems, water filtration systems, wells, septic systems and outbuildings among many other things. While some qualified inspectors may offer to inspect some of those items listed (of course for an extra fee), inspection of these items is not typical and not required by any known and recognizable standards in the industry. Some people may ask, why is this?

Why Home Inspections?

If we take a moment to ponder why, we quickly realize that it would be next to impossible for one person to carry enough knowledge and experience with them to facilitate thorough inspection of all of these items noted above. Furthermore, with the typical inspection window allotted of about 3 hours for most homes, it would be impossible for one to inspect all of the extra items in the time allowed for most residential inspections.

This is why home inspections have a very specific scope of work that focuses on inspecting major and expensive components of the home. Otherwise a home buyer would likely have to hire a team of people to inspect the various items in and outside of the house and the rest of the property. This would cause the inspection process to be much lengthier and drive the cost into a territory that would not be very feasible for most buyers.

We also have to remember, the home inspection is performed prior to taking possession of the home, so this presents many limitations as well.

Home inspectors are generalists, not experts in one specific craft or trade, although some may have previous experience in one particular field of work or trade which can help them excel at being a home inspector. Think of it this way, your home inspector is much like your family physician.

Say for instance your hip is giving you trouble. Off to the family doc to have it checked out right? Now chances are your family doctor is going to send you to a specialist to get that hip checked out.

Same scenario can be played out for other medical ailments as well right? This is because your family doctor for the most part can relate to the “generalist” approach mentioned earlier.

Your doctor has pretty good working knowledge of the entire human body, but doesn’t act as an expert in one particular area. Your home inspector is similar in the sense that they have a pretty good working knowledge of homes in general, but they can’t possibly know every single detail about every single different item inside or outside of the house. They have a good idea of when something needs to be replaced or repaired, or when a more serious matter might be present.

This is why the focus of the inspection is placed on major systems of the home and not much attention is given to minor defects or imperfections. In a perfect world a thorough home inspection would reveal every single defect present in a home, however reality is much different.

Inspectors have to contend with all sorts of things than can make a home inspection very challenging. It’s for these reasons that home inspectors have a very specific scope of work that details what they will and will not do during an inspection.

If you’re about to have a home inspection performed, it’s a really good idea to review the scope of work with your inspector, especially if you’re not sure of what is or is not included in your home inspection or if you have a specific concern about the home.

Any good inspector should provide you with this prior to the inspection taking place. Here is an example of what to expect from your home inspection.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. has been performing home inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County since 2006.


WETT Inspections – Chimney Sweeping

Shane Serra - Friday, October 16, 2015

Quite often during a WETT inspection the client or homeowner will ask us when is the best time to have the chimney swept. While there is no perfect simple answer for this, if we apply a little bit of common sense and consider the follow, it should help you decide when is the right time for you to have your chimney swept.

Here are some simple things to consider when trying to figure out when is the best time to have your chimney swept:


How often does your fireplace or woodstove get used? Some homeowners will only use their fireplace during the holidays or at family gatherings, mostly for the “feel” or ambiance, some will only use their woodstove during really cold periods to supplement their main heating source. The bottom line here is, the more often the fireplace or stove gets used, then the more often it should be cleaned, this includes the chimney and its flue or liner.Also, if the unit is used sparingly, then you better do a cursory inspection of the chimney flue if it’s been sitting idle for some time to ensure there are no obstructions (critters) which can lead to spillage back into the home.

Fuel Type

Most people just assume that you burn whatever wood you have and that’s the end of it. WRONG! Anyone that is well versed or experienced in using wood heat will tell you it’s a bit of an art choosing which fuel to use. Ideally you would only burn well seasoned hardwood, for some of us this isn’t feasible, so mixed wood may be used. It’s important to understand how burning soft or unseasoned wood (or other undesirable items such as garbage, a big NO NO!) can lead to excessive creosote buildup which can lead to a chimney fire. Bottom line here is if you have less than ideal fuel, you should consider more frequent inspection and cleaning of the chimney to prevent excessive creosote buildup which can lead to expensive and potentially life threatening situations.


Here is where a bit of experience comes into play. Ideally you want to get a good flame established quickly and get the chimney up to operating temperature to prevent smoldering and spillage into the home. Once the fire is established, it is best to maintain a steady and slow burn of the wood to prevent excessive wasteful heat while still maintaining high enough chimney flue temps that creosote will be less likely to accumulate.

So when is the right time to have your chimney swept? It depends on how often you use your wood burning unit, what type of fuel used and the burn cycles the unit sees. For most users, a chimney sweeping once a year in the spring will be the ideal. For users that burn lots of wood and depend heavily on wood heat then a bi-annual cleaning may be the best idea. Units that are used rarely may only need cleaning every few years, but these units should be checked regularly to ensure critters haven’t got into the chimney during periods of dormancy.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. offers WETT inspections for all wood burning appliances in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


Importance of WETT Inspection for Your Pellet Stoves

Shane Serra - Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pellet stoves are a great heating alternative to traditional wood fired appliances. With the increase in popularity of pellet stoves, inspections of the units will only become more demanding.

Pellet stoves are special in nature in the sense that they don’t typically follow the normal rules surrounding wood burning appliances. Here are some of the differences between pellet stoves and their traditional counterparts.

  • Sealed special (PV) vent/chimney piping due to pressurized venting systems. Smoke would leak around the joints if not sealed correctly.
  • Automatic fuel feeders. Many pellet stove are equipped with automatic feeders or hoppers so it’s more of a “set and forget” approach.
  • Reduced clearances to combustible materials. Because of pellet stove construction, operation and venting, often the clearances to combustible materials or quite less than typical woodstoves.

Over the last few years due to the increase in pellet stove popularity, we have seen several installations done very poorly which could lead to house fires or even death. It seems that there is still much confusion on how to install these units and operate them safely. A WETT Inspection of your pellet stove will ensure it is installed correctly and safe to use.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County. We perform WETT inspections on Woodstoves, Pellet Stoves, Fireplaces and their Chimneys.


Mould Inspection & Remediation Level Guidelines

Shane Serra - Saturday, August 15, 2015
Mould Inspection Remediation Level Guidelines

Sometimes during a home inspection, mould or suspected mould growth may be discovered. There are a variety of situations that can cause mould growth, just as there are a variety of methods available for remediation of mould growth within a home.

There seems to be much confusion and misinformation among the general public these days regarding mould presence or growth in a home. Much of this misinformation has been present by remediation companies that use fear as a tactic to scare homeowners into believing their health can be put into serious risk if they ignore mould growth within a home (while some cases are indeed serious, not all cases are). Here is a breakdown of the typical remediation “levels” and their guidelines.

Level 1 Mould Remediation - Small scale growth under one metre squared can be classified as a “Level 1” remediation.

Level 2 Mould Remediation - Medium scale growth (Level 2) is between one to ten square metres

Level 3 Mould Remediation - Large scale (Level 3) is over ten square metres

Each level of remediation has its own recommended rules and regulations as to how the remediation must be perform in order to prevent further growth or contamination of the home.

In general, Level 1 remediation can be fairly common in households and can be performed by a homeowner with a little bit of education and the proper PPE.Level two and three jobs should be completed by qualified mould remediation specialists who will have the correct tools and equipment to complete the job correctly.

If you come across mould during your home inspection, it’s best not to panic and stay calm. Quite often we come across clients that fly off the handle and make their real estate transaction a nightmare because they were ill informed about mould growth.Quite often the problem isn’t as big as it may seem and can be dealt with without much pain or serious expense. It’s best to keep cool and engage with qualified home inspection professionals who will guide you down the correct path for the specific scenario you may be dealing with


WETT Inspections – Inspection of Floor Protection

Shane Serra - Saturday, July 18, 2015

WETT Inspections – Inspection of Floor Protection

One of the most common problems we see during WETT inspections on woodstoves and especially fireplaces is the lack of proper floor protection. In general, we often see improper or poor floor protection which can lead to obvious safety hazards.

Inspecting Floor Protection

During the inspection of a typical free standing wood stove, part of the WETT inspection procedure is to inspect the floor protection around the entire unit. In most cases typical floor protection requirements for most woodstoves must extend 18 inches in front of any loading door, and 8 inches around the sides and rear of the unit. Some certified appliances can call for reduced clearances, but in most cases the dimensions listed above are fairly typical. Floor protection must consist of a continuous, durable, non-combustible pad that will provide the ember protection described in CSA B365 (Installation Code for Solid Fuel Burning Appliances).

Standard Requirements for Hearth Pad

More commonly, we see traditional wood burning fireplaces that have improper floor protection. The hearth is typically constructed of masonry and generally extends (for fireplaces with an opening of less than 6ft²) 16 inches in front of the fireplace and 8 inches past the sides. If the fireplace has an opening larger than 6ft², then the hearth pad must extend 20” in front of the opening and 12” past its sides.

In addition to the standard requirements for the hearth pad, if the hearth is raised up off the floor, then a formula for the required extension needed must be calculated based off the height from which the hearth sits off the floor.

Ensuring your have proper floor protection in place prior to your WETT inspection of your woodstove or fireplace will help the unit pass a WETT inspection.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. offers WETT Inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


Importance of Pre-Delivery (PDI) New Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Importance of Pre-Delivery (PDI) New Home Inspections

One question we get asked frequently is “do new homes really need an inspection?” The answer to this quite simply is “yes”. All one needs to do is wander over to our Facebook page to see some of the photos taken during inspections of brand new homes to see that an inspection isn’t a bad idea...even on a brand new home. They aren’t all bad, but you don’t know until you look.

Sometimes people will ask us if it makes sense to have a PDI inspection on a brand new home. As mentioned above, we have come across several defects in new homes that certainly warrant having an inspection performed. Here are the two common approaches we recommend when buying a new home.

PDI New Home Inspection

This is where the homeowner has their inspection performed prior to finalizing their home purchase or “delivery”. Our PDI inspection is quite different from the inspection a builder performs with the client. Typically the builder does a cursory walk through with the client just prior to the closing of the home. During this time the builder representative will go over the operation of normal operating controls within the home, shut off locations etc...They also use this time to walk through the home and identify defects that the builder should fix due to code violations or cosmetic issues, in which the latter case can be subjective and open to argument.

Our PDI home inspection focuses on major defects, safety concerns or defects that may lead to significant issues down the road that could be costly to repair. We provide the client with a detailed report including photos of defects that the builder can then repair. The report may also give the client an overall feel for the condition of the home and provide them with the peace of mind knowing their house is completed to an acceptable standard (not all new homes are nightmares).

Some clients wish to have a PDI home inspection to be proactive and force the builder to fix problems before the deal closes. Some clients prefer the latter scenario when dealing with the inspection of their new home.

One Year Warranty Home Inspection

As an alternative, clients may wish to waive their PDI inspection and have their home inspection performed about one month prior to the expiration of their Tarion one year home warranty. Some people prefer this method because it gives them almost one full year of living in the home to get a sense of the homes build quality and keep a close eye out for any issues that may arise. If any issues do pop up, then the homeowner can bring that to our attention and it can be documented in our report which the owner can give to the builder for repair, prior to the expiration of the home warranty.

Either way, new home owners should have a home inspection performed on their new home at some point within the first year to ensure any problems that may be present can be repaired before serious problems occur.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides new home PDI inspection and one year warranty home inspections on homes in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


How to Prepare For A WETT Inspection

Shane Serra - Friday, May 15, 2015
How to Prepare For A WETT Inspection

Quite often we get asked what is included in a WETT Inspection. The details and list could potentially be very long, but here are a bunch of common items that homeowners can easily check themselves prior to their WETT Inspection to ensure their fireplace or woodstove passes inspection.

Fireplace Inspection

  • Check the firebox for cracked firebricks or lining material. Replace any cracked firebricks to keep the firebox in good shape and prevent overheating which can warp steel components and turn the unit into scrap.
  • Check the operation of the damper. Quite often dampers are seized or broken which can lead to unsafe or poor operating conditions.
  • For masonry chimneys, replace any deteriorated or spalling masonry and caulk flashings as needed.
  • Ensure rain caps are present to prevent water leakage inside chimneys and their liners.
  • Clean the unit so a proper inspection can be performed.

Woodstove Inspection

  • Check the firebox for cracked firebricks, replace any cracked firebricks to keep the firebox in good shape and prevent overheating which can warp steel, crack welds and turn your woodstove into a pile of scrap metal.
  • Ensure flue pipes are properly secured with three screws per pipe connection or equivalent pipe clamps installed as per mfg. specs. Ensure the pipe fittings are oriented correctly and the pipe is also sloped correctly.
  • Check the damper operation, door gasket for deterioration and the door glass for cracking.
  • Ensure any heat shielding is secured and in good condition.
  • Keep wood storage and combustible materials at least 4 feet away from the wood stove in all directions at ALL times.

These items listed above are common items found during WETT inspections that homeowners can easily deal with themselves prior to the WETT inspection to ensure their unit will pass.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections (inspections of wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and wood burning appliances) in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


Common Chimney Inspection Issues

Shane Serra - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Common Chimney Inspection Issues

A chimney that is properly installed and in good condition is of paramount importance when dealing with any wood burning appliance. Here are some common problems encountered while performing a WETT inspection on a woodstove or fireplace and its chimney.

WETT Inspection Common Chimney Defects

  • Flue tile or liner rain caps missing
  • Missing, cracked or improper masonry chimney rain cap with no drip edge
  • Chimney height too short, does not meet 3-2-10 rule
  • Chimneys over 5’ high off roof deck missing proper bracing
  • Tree or vegetation growth too close to chimney
  • Spalling or cracked bricks and mortar joints
  • Damaged or missing flashings
  • Metal chimney outer shell corroded
  • Flue liner cracked or deteriorated, excessive creosote buildup

The items noted above are just some of the typical or common defects observed during a WETT inspection. If you are about to have a WETT inspection performed, it’s always a good idea to have a quick look at the unit and it’s chimney to ensure nothing obvious is defective or damaged. Have repairs performed by a qualified professional prior to having your inspection completed.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County. 


How to confirm the presence of Asbestos during your Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Friday, March 20, 2015
How to confirm the presence of Asbestos during your Home Inspection

There may come a time that you discover what may be Asbestos in your home or it may have been discovered during your home inspection. Many people tend to panic when they even hear the word, so here is some prudent advice when dealing with a potentially serious matter.

Common Areas of Asbestos Presence in your home

Asbestos is a commonly found product in many home building supplies and materials, chances are if you own a home constructed prior to 1985, it may have building materials with asbestos in it. Asbestos was commonly used in the HVAC industry as heat shielding and insulation and as such this is usually where asbestos comes up in home inspections.

Common areas to potentially see asbestos are around boilers as insulation wrap, heating ducts as insulation and heat shielding, and in attics where vermiculite insulation (not all vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos) is present.

Ways to confirm presence of Asbestos

The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified lab. In general, it is accepted that if asbestos is present in a home or material, that it generally does not pose a health threat unless it is disturbed or handled incorrectly. What this means is, if you come across suspected asbestos in your home or during a home inspection, DO NOT disturb it! If encountered you should contact a qualified remediation specialist to remove the material safely and correctly. Some very small jobs may be able to be remediated by a homeowner with the correct PPE and training, but if in doubt you should always contact a professional.

Before getting overly excited about a possible asbestos issue, its best to not touch or disturb the materials in question and seek professional assistance to ensure you can take the correct course of action after testing is completed.