One-year inspection needs a pro
Last kick at the can to repair any problemsIt’s wise to wait until a winter has come and gone
It can take some time and wear for problems to show
May 6, 2006. 01:00 AM
HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS
The world we live in thrives on outsourcing. Got kids? Send them to daycare or hire a nanny. Need a meal? Let the folks at a restaurant or your favourite fast food joint cook it. So why not do the same with those tasks that are even more mundane and detail-oriented, like the one-year inspection of your new home? The one-year warranty form that you are required to submit to Tarion is your last kick at the warranty can for some of the items that have been outstanding since your 30-day inspection and new ones that you’ve discovered during the year. It’s a stress inducer and the fear that you might miss something only makes it worse. But rather than dashing around with a clipboard and pen looking for cracks in your basement walls, what if you could, instead, carry only a coffee cup and watch while someone else climbed ladders and poked their head into dusty spaces? And what if you got an education on your house at the same time? That’s the theory behind Hilain Home Inspections, the company started 18 months ago by Michael Bertrand and Darryl Johns, to offer a fresh perspective to new homeowners. The two men were originally in the home renovation business and carpenters by trade before earning their home inspection certificates from George Brown and becoming members of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. Their combined total of more than 50 years’ experience building houses (including working on the show *Real Renos *with host Jim Caruk) is an asset to new homeowners who often know as much about home building as they do about rocket science. “How do you know if your insulation is installed right or if your roof is properly secured?” asks Bertrand. Janice Jordan, 33, and her husband, Ross Scott, certainly didn’t. Two years ago they bought their new home in Brooklin and decided that a home inspection —before they sent in their one-year warranty form —was important for peace of mind. “As first-time new homeowners, we weren’t sure what to look for,” says Jordan. The call to Hilain went out after a neighbour’s recommendation, she adds. “He was very thorough and he noticed things we certainly wouldn’t have noticed,” Jordan continues. “He spent 45 minutes up on the roof and we wouldn’t have done that.” The session usually lasts from 2 1/2 to four hours, depending on the size of the home. He visits everywhere from the basement to the attic, flashlight in hand. Even better is the fact that they fill out the Tarion forms for you using the appropriate building terms and lingo “It was the best money we could’ve spent. We were investing in our house,” Jordan adds. “I tell every customer at the end of the warranty inspection to call me if there’s any problem,” Bertrand says, adding that he has only ever received two calls — both from builders who agreed with the assessment of the problem but were unsure how to fix it. I, too, have had my new home inspected, I tell Bertrand, expecting praise for my foresight. Instead, he shakes his head. According to Bertrand, hiring a home inspector prior to completing my 30-day inspection was a mistake. “Too early,” he says. "People ask me to come out and help with the PDI (pre-delivery inspection) and 30-day (inspection) and I say `no.’ “I want a winter on your house. In Canada, our winters are hard on the houses. I want to see what it does to yours,” he says. “I want that new homeowner glow gone. I want you to have experienced the furnace and the air conditioning. With those clues in my hands I can really take a good look and find the source of the problems.” After betting me that he could find things I missed on my one-year inspection form, Bertrand arrives at my home and within 30 minutes has identified several things I would never have even known to check for: missing caulking, exposed nail heads on the roof, missing mounting screws in vents, insulation that isn’t puffy enough and missing in key places, ducts that aren’t connected, exhaust fans that don’t open and a sock in the attic. While many of the items he finds aren’t going to cause the house to crumble, they could affect my comfort in the home and they could have been fixed if highlighted on my Tarion form. “The biggest misses happen with the attic, the ventilation system and the roof,” says Bertrand. On average, he finds about 40 items per house. His record is 98. He says that despite having written 150 pages of a book he hopes to call “Lies The Builder Told Me,” he is not out to persecute all builders. “They’re human and sometimes there are oversights,” he says, adding that 80 per cent of workers on any job site are subcontractors. But their oversights can become your problem if you’re not careful, he adds. “You paid a heck of a lot of money for your house,” says Bertrand. “You pay $60 for a drill and you get a two-year warranty. You pay $450,000 for your house and you get 11 months.” Use them well. For more information on choosing a home inspector visit http://www.oahi.com. Hilain Home Inspections can be reached at http://www.hilain.com. ***Heather Greenwood Davis *is a freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.