Everything you need to know about pre-purchase inspections

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By Stéphane Pagé Esq.
Lawyer with Bouchard Pagé Tremblay

Most people are unaware that just about anyone can claim to be a building inspector while offering unskilled services that lack the necessary qualifications and they often don’t even have error and omission (E&O) liability insurance.

In fact, anyone can claim to be a building inspector because pre-purchase inspections remain unregulated. There is a voluntary association of building inspectors who adhere to admission rules similar to those of a professional association. It’s called the Quebec Association of Building Inspectors (AIBQ).

Certain professionals can also perform pre-purchase building inspections such as technologists, engineers, architects and certified appraisers. However, these inspectors must have E&O liability insurance as part of their work as a building inspector.

How can a buyer find a pre-purchase building inspector?

Through a real estate broker. Brokers are required to recommend a pre-purchase inspection of the property to their clients. The inspector should meet the following conditions:

  • have E&O liability insurance;
  • complete a written inspection report;
  • apply a recognized standard of practice;
  • use a recognized service agreement.

It is important to note that a building inspection is not an assessment of the property, but a visual inspection of the easily accessible parts of the property. The inspector does not break or open the walls; he/she only performs a visual inspection of the property to identify any defaults or signs of defaults that could affect it.

The inspector, therefore, won’t be able to assess the condition of the agricultural drain. However, he/she will be able to determine if there are any signs of a drainage problem inside the property, such as the presence of efflorescence, moisture or traces of water infiltration.

It is also important to note that in a purchase agreement conditional to the performance of a pre-purchase inspection, the buyer may withdraw the purchase agreement only if the inspector’s written report reveals significant defaults affecting the property. Therefore, a verbal report would be of no use to a buyer.

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