This question was just asked by one of my Buyers last month:
Q/ My Offer is conditional on a Home Inspection. What happens if a home inspection finds some things in the house that are not up to today’s Ontario Building Code? Do we renegotiate the offer price?
A/ The short answer is “probably not”. A home inspection is really more to find out if there are any major visible problems with the house or cottage, not to see if a home meets today’s building code. It’s possible (even likely) that a resale house will not be up to today’s Ontario Building Code standards because it is not a brand new house. A ‘home inspection’ is not to be confused with a ‘ building inspection’ which is done by the local municipality’s building inspector. That’s a totally different thing from a ‘Home Inspection’ clause in an Offer. The ‘Final Inspection’ should have been done by the municipality when the house was built to make sure it was up to the Ontario Building Code at that time.
When buying a house or cottage a home inspection is going to look for obvious and visible problems in the house:
A home inspection will turn up things like mould; vermiculite attic insulation; age, condition and type of wiring (what can be seen); operation of the septic system; condition of the roof covering; proper grading around the house for drainage; proper ventilation; signs of water damage; age and condition of the fuel oil tank (if there is one); type of heating system; W.E.T.T. inspections of masonry fireplaces/woodstoves; and lots more. A Home Inspection is really more of an information gathering inspection so that the buyers can get to know the house better, and know what they can likely expect in terms of maintenance in the future. Most buyers do not expect a price reduction on the purchase price unless there is a major unexpected defect.
A resale home is not expected to be up to today’s Building Code and no one is likely to come around from the municipality and demand that older homes be brought up to today’s Code. However, the house should have been up to Code when it was built and there should have been a final building inspection done when it was completed and any deficiencies corrected at that time.
I have never seen a resale house that is “perfect” on a home inspection:
There are always deficiencies or little quirks of some sort in every home and that should already be reflected in the price that ‘s been negotiated in the Agreement of Purchase & Sale. Unless something major comes up in the home inspection that hasn’t already been seen Sellers are usually reluctant to reduce the price on an Agreement of Purchase and Sale based on a home inspection. If there are any special concerns that a buyer has about a property, it’s really up to the buyer to do their own due diligence and bring in their own experts to further investigate any areas of concern.
The home inspection is not meant to be a way to find defects in a house (or to find where it’s not up to today’s Code) to get a price reduction. Rather it’s meant to educate a buyer about what they are likely getting into and what they should expect regarding maintenance of their house in the future, or if there are any huge and obvious problem areas.
Susan Brown, B.A., MVA, SRES/Broker
Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage