Many home inspection companies claim: A Home Inspection is the most important decision you can make.
So… what level of professional due diligence do you want? A 2.5 hr to 4 hr turnaround inspection will cost you between $275 and $500. In my opinion, based upon my professional experience, a strata property (e.g. a condo) inspection with a detailed custom report, takes a full day and ranges from $600 to $800.
Strata Minutes & Other Reports
I recommend that you obtain the standard 2yrs. of strata minutes. You need to read these minutes! Also obtain any and all engineer’s reports, strata depreciation reports and building envelope inspection reports. The building management company or President of the Strata should have copies. You will need authorization from the seller to access their history.
Be prepared; the agents may try to charge you for this info, but this is info which you are entitled and need to review. You shouldn’t have to pay for this information which is public property. If you ask for any available information they must provide access to that information in a timely matter.
Between the two agents you are probably paying a commission fee of approximately $8,000 – $12,000. It would be nice if your agent provided this service without complication or cost. Unfortunately agents aren’t used to doing any running around and what you’re asking for would seem extraordinary as buyers don’t usually ask for this amount of information. In light of the Leaky Condo Disaster, where special assessments for repairs range from $30,000 to $100,000+ I think you are not asking too much. Don’t forget to say: “Please do whatever it takes to get those documents and I do not want to hear of any charges.” This is their cost of doing business.
You will need any info on building envelope issues and all other repairs. I sometimes find the repairs are no more than bandage solutions to larger problems.
Strata Council’s often try to save money by doing repair Option B or C as opposed to the optimal Option A. Option B or C repairs are often just forestalling strategies to the inevitable Option A repairs which will be born by any hangers on and future owners. The delayed repairs always increase the eventual cost.
Get contractors names and the scope of work done or proposed.
Questions About the Building
Get answers to as many of these questions as possible and bring them with you to the inspection (or email to me prior):
- When was the exterior last painted?
- How old is the roof, have there been any roofing repairs?
- Have there been any plumbing repairs?
- Have there been any window replacements?
- Have there been any problems with heating systems, including domestic hot water?
- Have there been any insurance claims? (Details!)
Hope I’m not sounding too negative, You need this in order to make an informed decision. You must also appreciate an inspection is no guarantee. But it’s a start.
On the Day of the Inspection:
- I will need access to any mechanical rooms and to the top roof. You need to arrange for this prior to the inspection date.
- Bring all documentation with you. (Please flag the reports with sticky notes. There is simply too much paper for me to review on your behalf.)
- You might want to bring a snack as the inspection generally takes four to six hours.
- Bring your camera and a notepad. There will be a multitude of minor details or questions you may wish to remember.
I assume you will be attending the entire inspection, from 9:30 AM to approximately 2:00 PM or later depending on the size and complexity of property and unit. I will then compose your report back at my office and deliver it by email.
Don’t be too concerned if some information is unavailable. I don’t have x-ray eyes but I can tell quite a bit from my investigation.
Don’t take no for an answer! The Strata Property Act clearly defines all information pertaining to the building as public domain and you are entitled to review any and all available documentation. Even if everyone claims “there are no problems with this building” , get that documentation before your subject removal clause runs out!!
If you have any problems obtaining this info the Real Estate Council, Home Protection Office, BBB and Government of BC (Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Real Estate Act) would be very interested.
You must request this info pronto! The real estate sales community is not experienced with people who ask hard questions. Delay is a common tact.
My inspections are generally interesting and highly educational, the time just flies by. Bring all your questions and concerns.
If you get the extended inspection and report the inspection review will be after 6:30 PM on the 2nd day.
In the meantime here is some more essential info:
Don’t leave everything to the so-called Experts. Whatever you do, don’t delegate Your Due Diligence to someone else. They won’t be there for you if there are future repair costs.
Note: get all claims in writing. E.g. when they say they haven’t had any problems with plumbing leaks, etc., take notes and ask them to sign it.
Contact Ted About Your Strata Inspection