Electrical Panels: Canada has great codes for fire and safety in construction. Our electrical code is well thought out and updated and Canadians generally have an out of hand trust that the electrical system in their home is safe and that when they throw a switch the intended light will come on. That isn’t to say that there aren’t deficiencies, especially in homes built prior to 1995. Knob and tube still exits in some older homes. In fact my nephew, a carpenter in Manitoba, was recently doing some remodeling and came to realize his entire house had copper wiring that was connected to knob and tube and then back to copper at receptacles and fixtures. This is a very scary set up.... Read More
The Legacy of Grow Ops: The legalization of marijuana may soon make grow op damaged homes a memory. Legalization will bring marijuana production out of houses and into commercial facilities. While the day of damaged homes and plummeting property value may be nigh, we should not get ahead of ourselves. The impact of a grow op can affect a home for as long as twenty years without successful diagnosis and mitigation...Read More
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November 12, 2017
New Home Warranty Inspections
The Truth About Radon: Like most issues of public health that have surfaced, there are claims that the risks are overblown, there are claims that the risks are undervalued, there are claims that the risks are negligible, and that the risks are enormous. From black mould to cigarettes, from sugar to gluten, there are always contradictory points of view. So it is with radon. We should look where the majority of genuine, peer reviewed scientific data leads... Read More
What To Expect When You're Inspecting
I love doing new home warranty inspections. I believe that they are every bit as important, and possibly more, than an inspection when you are purchasing a home that isn’t brand new. The assumption that new can’t mean broken or wrong is not a good one, and quite often can be an expensive assumption to make.
Before I get further into this I would like to say that I am not attacking builders. I have worked in construction at the labour level all the way up to management in my career and in my experience, builders are not trying to dodge or hustle anyone. To a large degree they are at the mercy of their subcontractors. Even with oversight things can easily get missed. Furthermore, the house at the time of the pre-possession inspection may not have shown signs of an issue yet. And you can’t expect the builder to send a site supervisor out with a thermal camera, moisture meter and all the tools we use to examine each property for 3 or 4 hours. For the most part it is up to the home owner to list what problems arise.
What are the odds that an untrained home buyer who doesn’t work in residential construction will catch everything?
People buy new homes because they want to know they won’t have any problems for a long time. Doing new home warranty inspections allows me to help both the builder and the home owner get what they want. The home owner gets a new home with everything performing as it should, and the builder gets a happy customer.
I don’t want to toot my own horn, on second thought, that’s exactly what I want to do. The average amount in warranty deficiencies we have disclosed this year per house is $8350.00. I won’t bore you with breaking down the numbers, but non-invasive tools like thermography, moisture meters and endoscope photography represent a significant portion of the deficiencies found. Getting everything fixed that needs to be fixed before that first year is over is essential. Without an in-depth look and a clearly detailed report it would be difficult for most homeowners to achieve that. Like I previously stated, any reputable builder wants happy customers. If 6 months after a warranty has expired a leaking skylight destroys drywall, home furnishings and personal belongings this will not a happy customer make. If, on the other hand, a full warranty inspection is conducted, the flashing around a skylight is flagged and the builder mends it you have a happy home buyer. Everybody wins.
A customer recently asked me how I approach a new home warranty inspection differently then a pre-purchase inspection. The answer is that there is no difference. You can make no assumptions in either scenario. You must inspect and relay evidence based findings. You never know what you will find. Here are just a few of the things I have found in new home warranty inspections: broken trusses nailed together with pieces of plywood; holes in roof sheeting as big as a beach ball that had just been shingled over; 9 inch holes cut in 11 ¾ inch wood I-beam joists just 6 inches from the pocket in a foundation; kitchen cupboards nearly falling off the wall from the weight of dishes stored in them; skylights with inadequate flashing; insulation stops completely blocked by insulation; and P-traps effectively turned into S-traps by poor workmanship. I could go on and on. An inspection is an inspection and a full investigation must be made in order to hear the story that the property is telling me.
One of my favourite stories is one told to me by a colleague in Edmonton. He got a call to do a home inspection on a house that was only two years old. It was not a pre-purchase. The clients had purchased the home directly from the builder, Jayman homes, two years prior. The home had been ridiculously cold on the second floor and the gas bill soared well above average for the market. After inspecting the outside, the inspector went straight for the attic. There was no insulation. Not a drop. This had been missed, not only by the builder, but by the city inspector as well. Now this is the part that I love. Within 36 hours of Jayman being made aware of this omission the home owner had insulation installed and a cheque for their entire gas bill for the two years since they bought the home. If that home owner buys a new home in the future who do you think they will call? If the subject of new homes comes up at a dinner party this story will be relayed with enthusiasm. Not only the buyer, but the inspector was turned into a promoter for Jayman. In fact I have relayed the story myself to at least a dozen people since I heard it. It’s a great story. If they had waited three months to get someone over to do the insulation and not paid any restitution the story would be a lot different. It would have created a chain of detractors instead of chain of promoters for Jayman. That is how a new home warranty is a win-win for home owners and builders.
In Japanese the word kiki means both crisis and opportunity. In a perfect world, third party new home warranty inspections would be thrown in with the price of a home. It is a nominal cost and a huge benefit to all involved. It is a kiki for all involved.
Adventures in Real Estate Marketing: Real estate marketing is an interesting thing. It has different norms and boundaries than marketing in most other industries. What works in real estate is not necessarily what works in marketing as a whole. A home is not only one of the biggest purchase of one’s life, it is also one of the most emotional. The home itself may not be a brand onto itself. With few exceptions people don’t buy into a brand of home. Except in the case of new home construction few people buying a home are even aware of who the builder or architect was. The brand is more commonly the community or neighbourhood in which the home is situated. The brokerage is a brand, but interestingly the individual agent is normally the brand most home owners are sold on... Read More