Home Inspections – What to Focus On

Shane Serra - Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quite often when people are having a home inspection performed they can get all worked up over little things. A good home inspector will do their best to try and put issues into perspective for their clients and try and keep them focused on the bigger picture and things that really matter, like foundation leaks and structural problems.

Every house has problems, this is a simple fact. Having a home inspection performed isn’t about trying to find a perfect defect free home; it’s about getting as much information about the home that you want to purchase so you can make an informed decision. Buyers of all homes no matter how old or new should always plan to experience some sort of problem during their home ownership experience, it’s just a fact of life that at some point something will break, wear out or fail.

Importance of Paying Attention To Minor Problems During Home Inspection

When having a home inspection performed, the home inspector will likely not pay much attention to smaller low cost or minor problems. This is because the home inspector is there to look for major or serious problems that may deter someone from buying a home, whether it’s due to high repair cost or possibly a safety issue. Issues like foundation leakage, unsafe electrical wiring, a cracked roof rafter, or a furnace near the end of its life are bigger issues that buyers should pay more attention to when having their inspection performed.

In conclusion, if you’re having a home inspection performed, try to remain calm until all the facts are presented once the inspection is completed. From there you should be able to gather enough information as to whether you’re dealing with a home that might need a little TLC or is a money pit.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging inspections and mould inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Innisfil.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters or GFCI’s are a type of safety device commonly found in most homes during a home inspection. When present, home inspectors are required by their standards of practice to test GFCI’s to ensure they are working correctly at the time of inspection.

Aside from common outlet issues such as hot and neutral wires reversed, missing grounds and missing exterior weather covers, GFCI’s can also fail over time, be it from exposure to elements, frequent usage or just age. Most home inspectors will have a small GFCI tester that they will use to test or trip the GFCI when conducting the home inspection. If all is well the tester will trip the GFCI which indicates it’s in proper working order. If not, well it’s time to replace the outlet or breaker that serves the outlet.

Why are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Needed?

Where are GFCI’s needed? That’s a good question. In general GFCI’s are required in new builds pretty much anywhere water or moisture contact with an outlet is possible. As building codes started to adopt the installation of GFCI’s, they were initially required on exterior outlets and from there codes have changed to mandate installation in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and laundry rooms or any outlet that may be within one metre (three feet) of a moisture source.

Identifying GFCI Issues During Home Inspection

Some home inspectors may recommend in their inspection report that older outlets close to these higher risk areas be upgraded to a GFCI outlet for safety reasons. While GFCI outlets are not cheap in comparison to a typical outlet (usually about $15 to $25), they are worth every penny to anyone with common sense.

If your home inspector determines there is a problem with a GFCI during your home inspection, it is always a good idea to hire an electrician to perform any repairs or upgrades.

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

Importance of Downspouts

Shane Serra - Friday, July 21, 2017

By far one of the most common observations in regards to the roof system during a home inspection is the lack of downspout extensions. Unfortunately, current building codes do not require builders to install ideal downspout arrangements, therefore resulting in accelerated shingle wear and deterioration.

How To Prevent Drainage Off The Roof Using Downspouts?

So what can you do to help improve drainage off the roof and prevent accelerated shingle wear? Your home inspector will likely recommend a simple improvement such as extending downspouts directly into gutters. In two storey homes or homes with various roof levels, drainage from up high can be discharged onto a lower roof such as the garage or front porch roof. Simple downspout extensions here can save you from increased localized wear and premature leakage.

Maintenance of Downspouts

One other important aspect to downspouts is ensuring they discharge far enough away from the foundation to prevent potential basement leakage. Every home is a little different, but in general if downspouts are extended at least three to four feet away from the foundation, you can greatly reduce the risk of having a wet basement problem.

Also, ensuring the downspouts are in proper working condition helps prevent leakage onto exterior surfaces which can cause unsightly staining all the way to brick spalling.

Chances are if you’ve had a home inspection your home inspector has probably made some sort of comment or recommendation about improving downspouts and roof drainage. Most improvements can be done by homeowners themselves with very little cost and will help them save money in the long run.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. has been performing professional home inspections since 2006 in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Innisfil, Wasaga Beach and Collingwood.

Common Problems With Decks Found During Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Friday, April 14, 2017

Decks by far have to be one of the most common upgrades that homeowners will take upon themselves to construct. Unfortunately, decks are also one of the most common problem areas observed on the exterior of a home during an inspection.

Improper Deck Framing

Improper deck framing is a very common problem. There are many “weekend warrior” types that feel their construction skills are up to par for building a deck. Problem is most don’t have a clue, and this can lead to some serious safety issues. Improper deck framing is a problem commonly observed during home inspections.

Over spanned and over spaced joists, improper sized joist hangers, improper joist fastening, ledger boards not secured properly, improper joist supports, undersized beams, undersized beam columns, improper or damaged footings are all typical issues found during home inspections.

Some other common issues found with decks during home inspections are improper, damaged or missing railings, improperly constructed stairs, deck stairs not properly fastened to the deck itself, damaged or deteriorated treads and surface planks and rot and deterioration in general.

Implications of Deck Defects

Implications of these defects can sometimes be serious. If a deck collapses and someone becomes injured or seriously hurt, one could find themselves being slapped with a substantial lawsuit. This is why attention needs to be given to inspecting the deck to ensure it is safe to use.

More often than not, poorly constructed decks are observed during home inspections. Most homeowners also do not follow local code compliance regulations regarding proper deck safety and construction methods, again another reason to ensure your home inspector has a real good look at that deck.

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

Electrical Panels & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The electrical system is one of the major systems within a home and one of the systems of primary focus while performing a home inspection. Listed below are some of the most common defects observed during a home inspection in relation to the electrical panel itself.

Over Sized Fuses Or Breakers Inspection

Over sized fuses or breakers is very common. It’s not unusual for Harry the homeowner handyman to strike and install whatever size breaker or fuse that physically fits in the panel even though it may be oversized and become a potential fire hazard. It’s important to ensure fuses or breakers are properly sized for the gauge of wire they are supposed to protect, otherwise if there is a fault in that circuit, the fuse or breaker may not trip as quickly as it should, resulting in a fire. In general, correcting over sized fuses or breakers isn’t a big deal and not overly costly, but this doesn’t mean it should be overlooked and left uncorrected.

Missing Wire Clamps & Grommets Inspection

Missing wire clamps and grommets is another common defect found on electrical panels during home inspections. Same situation as above, an unqualified handyman probably doesn’t realize the value for proper wire isolation and might skip installing the proper clamps or grommets. This can lead to wire sheathing rubbing on the metal frame of the panel and someone getting electrocuted and again also a fire hazard.

Double Tapping Inspection

Double tapping or double lugging as some may refer to it is also another common defect found during home inspections. This is when someone decides it’s ok to install more than one wire end into the breaker or fuse receptacle. This can potentially lead to an overheating situation and cause a fire. In some cases double tapping is permissible if the breakers are designed for multiple wire use or where a low voltage device such as a transformer for a door bell is installed. In other rare cases double taps may be permissible if passed by a qualified electrician or electrical authority. In general it is considered bad practice though.

Incorrect Panel Cover Screws Inspection

Incorrect panel cover screws are also another common defect witnessed during home inspections. Panel covers must have flat tipped screws to avoid any possibility of piercing wire sheathing accidentally. All too often carless home owners have removed the panel cover, lost the screws and replaced them with longer wood type screws with sharp tips which may protrude into wiring.

Most of these issues commonly found in electrical panels during home inspections can be repaired usually without much grief and too much cost, so in most cases there isn’t a need to panic. That being said, they should not be left uncorrected and should be repaired by a qualified professional.

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

Why You Should Never Choose a Cheap Home Inspector

Shane Serra - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Many people generally view all home inspectors as the same and therefore may have a tendency to hire the cheapest home inspector they can find, big mistake! A typical observation is that most people assume all home inspectors are the same and therefore will provide the exact same level of service while conducting your home inspection. Wrong!

Unfortunately, the home inspection industry in Ontario is self regulated at this time and anyone who feels they are competent enough, can print off business cards, launch a website and plaster their vehicle with graphics calling themselves a “home inspector”. This can be a bit scary and unnerving for most folks who are looking to hire an inspector to help them make an informed decision about the home they are about to buy. Fortunately there are a few things you can consider while shopping around and interviewing potential inspectors.

What type of background does the inspector have?

Generally, a good home inspector will have some sort of background in construction or contracting, engineering or architectural disciplines. People with this type of background generally have the knowledge and experience needed to conduct a proper inspection and identify problems and areas of non performance within a residential home.

What type of training does the inspector have?

Having a suitable background isn’t enough, proper training is also required. Has the inspector worked with a seasoned home inspector and been mentored? Has the inspector taken a credible training program, such as the Carson & Dunlop Inspection Training Program? What other education and training does this person have? Be wary of so called “certified inspectors” that have taken nothing more than a 2 hour online course to get their “certification”.

Is the inspector a full time inspector or just doing it part time to supplement their income? This is important because many people perform home inspections on a part time basis and have little to no vested interest in their business or their clients should something go wrong. Someone doing inspections on a full time basis will surely have much more experience than a part timer.

Is the home inspector insured?

This one is really important should something unforeseen or big happen. Humans can indeed make mistakes, therefore it is imperative that the home inspector be properly insured, carrying both general liability and error and omissions insurance.

What type of report is provided?

Gone are the days of chicken scratch and checklist style reports. A quality report should include photos of problem areas in an easy to understand and read computer generated format.

When looking for an inspector consider these tips and factor them into your decision making process for hiring your inspector. If you are shopping home inspectors and one is much cheaper than the other you must ask yourself, why? Chances are you won’t be getting the service you require and the few bucks you saved will end up costing you in the long run. Don’t make your decision based solely on the inspection fee alone.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides home inspections, WETT inspections, mould inspections and thermal imaging in Barrie and across Simcoe County.

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.


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


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.