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12 things you can do to prepare for a home inspection

Make the components readily accessible

Please make sure the important areas of your home are accessible. Including components such as air conditioning units, heat pumps, attic access panel(s), furnace, electrical service panel(s), plumbing under sinks, hot water heater and or any other component that may be blocked by shelves, storage or furnishings. Home Inspectors are required to inspect readily accessible areas and do not move furniture, storage, appliances nor do they become invasive with the building components. If an area cannot be accessed the Inspector will write it up as a limitation to the inspection and it may raise questions with the client or purchaser. To find a list of components inspected in a home inspection please see HIABC Scope of Inspection 2016.

Eliminate Clogs in plumbing

Take some time to test your sink drains. If you identify slow drainage at the sinks and basins you can purchase commercial drain cleaners from your local hardware store. For extremely slow draining or completely clogged drains call a plumber to repair prior to the inspection. Same can be done for slow or lower than typical water supply from the fixtures and or faucets in the subject building.

Don’t forget the light bulbs

Check out and test your light fixtures. Ensure they have working light bulbs. Inspectors cannot always determine if the bulb is simply burnt out or if there is a more serious electrical problem. Home Inspections are not technically exhaustive in British Columbia and non-functional electrical components may require further evaluation and or raise questions with the client or purchaser.

Clean filters allow efficient furnace performance

The furnace return air filter should be checked and or replaced if it is expired or dirty. Dirty filters do not just affect the effectiveness of the overall HVAC system, they also indicate neglect, which isn’t a nice impression to leave with an inspector. Typically, it is a good idea to change filters every 4 to 6 weeks in the winter months.

Test your detectors

Ensure your home smoke and or carbon monoxide detectors are functional. Test them before the inspection and ensure the expiration dates have not passed. It is best practice to install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations. If your home has an attached garage or a combustion source such as a gas fireplace, wood burning appliance it should have carbon monoxide detector(s), preferably near the sleeping area(s).

Observe surface drainage

Check the property grading to see if the earth, sidewalks, decks, slabs slope away from the homes foundation. The Nanaimo, Comox, Campbell River region is situated in a rain forest, improper slopes on exterior components may direct water towards the home providing hydrostatic pressure, wet basements and or crawlspaces. Swales and or grading correction may be required and slopes away from the home is best practice even if the basement/crawlspace is dry.

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Check the windows for damage

If the home’s window(s) have non-functional hardware, damaged or cracked window panes you might want to consider fixing them to prevent them from showing up in the home inspection report. Blown seals in windows are primarily cosmetic and replacing them for this reason doesn’t typically improve the energy savings very much.

Wood destroying insects can cause expensive damage

Vegetation should be kept away from the building to help prevent insect infestation. Furthermore, it is best practice is to provide 6-8 inches of clearance from the exterior earth, slabs, gardens to the bottom of the siding. Typically, the foundation should be visible all away around the home. Lack of clearances may allow moisture to wick into the building components. Wood destroying insects may be found in wet wood components and can spread to other areas.

Seal it up and maintain it

Check for openings in the building envelope, eaves and soffit areas that may allow bird, insect, animal or rodent entry. Caulking can be used around some exterior penetrations to help prevent opportunity of water ingress into the building envelope. Unused perimeter drains can be capped to help prevent opportunity of foreign debris entry that may lead to clogging problems. Unused gas lines should be capped even if the valve(s) are isolated. Electrical junction boxes or service panels with openings should have face plates installed by a qualified electrician.

Keep vegetation away from the building

Check the property for overhanging vegetation. Power lines passing through trees should be appropriately trimmed by a qualified contractor. Trees over the roof may reduce the lifespan of the roof covering or clog the roof drainage systems. Wind storms may break branches off and cause mechanical damage to the roof components. Large vegetation may have roots that crack or heave sidewalks, clog perimeter drains, crack foundations or even lift the structure off the foundation!

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Hazardous materials?

Prior to 1990 some homes were built with asbestos in the drywall. Prior to 1980 homes may have asbestos in the insulation or interior floor coverings. Prior to 1978 some homes may have lead in the paint. Prior to the 1950’s some homes may have lead in the water supply plumbing. Suspect components may be identified and or further evaluation may be recommended by laboratory analysis if your home falls into this era. You may want to have suspect components analysed by professionals prior to a home inspection to prevent buyers from being scared off.

Typical and non-typical cracks

The components in most homes expand and contract seasonally at different rates depending on the type of material(s). Sometimes, in particular older homes, cracks or joint separation may develop at interior components that may be primarily cosmetic. Large cracks in the foundation or windows, doors that are out of alignment may provide evidence of a structural problem. If you suspect a structural problem, it would be a good idea to get it checked by a structural engineer prior to a home inspection.

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Typical home improvement costs

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The Vancouver Island real estate market can sometimes be a little tricky. I have had many clients purchase fixer up homes that required repair and or replacement of the components. Even though the repairs are primarily obvious post inspection, they can still be surprising when the overall expense is examined. Small repairs can add up, sometimes having an overall impact on the total assessed value of the home.

Just like home inspectors, residential construction contractors can significantly vary in project costs. Going with the cheapest person on the block is not necessarily always the best choice. The better contractors typically charge a little more as the quality improves. Location, availability and supply costs may cause construction project costs to fluctuate even more. Therefore, the costs listed below are approximate costs and can also significantly vary. Typical costs for a 3 bedroom home on Vancouver Island are as follows:

Roofing/Flashings/Chimneys

Install conventional asphalt shingles over existing shingles $2.00 – $4.00 per sq. ft.
Strip and reshingle with convention asphalt shingles $2.75 – $5.50 per sq.ft.
Strip and reshingle with premium quality asphalt shingles $5.00 – $10.00 per sq. ft.
Strip and re-roof with cedar shingles $9.00 – $18.00 per sq. ft.
Strip and replace built-up tar and gravel roof $10.00 – $20.00 per sq. ft. (min. $1,000.00)
Strip and replace single-ply membrane $10.00 – $20.00 per sq. ft. (min. $1,000.00)
Reflash typical skylight or chimney $500.00 – $1,000.000
Rebuild typical chimney above roof line $150.00 – $300.00 per lin. ft. (min. $1,000.00)
Rebuild typical single flue chimney above roof line $200.00 – $400.00 per lin. ft. (min. $1,000.00)

Exterior

Install galvanized or aluminum gutters and downspouts $5.00 – $10.00 per lin. ft. (min. $500.00)
Install aluminium soffits and fascia $8.00 – $16.00 per lin. ft.
Install aluminium or vinyl siding $6.00 – $12.00 per sq. ft.
Repoint exterior wall (soft mortar) $3.00 – $6.00 per sq. ft. (min. $500.00)
Repoint exterior wall (hard mortar) $5.00 – $10.00 per sq. ft. (min $500.00)
Parge foundation walls $3.00 – $6.00 per sq. ft.
Dampproof foundation walls and install weeping tile $150.00 – $300.00 per lin. ft. (min. $3,000.00)
Install a deck $25.00 – $50.00 per sq. ft. (min. $1,000.00)
Resurface existing asphalt driveway $2.00 – $4.00 per sq. ft.
Install interlocking brick driveway $8.00 – $16.00 per sq. ft.
Rebuild exterior basement stairwell $5,000.00 and up
Build detached garage $70.00 – $140.00 per sq. ft.
Build retaining wall (wood) $20.00 – $40.00 per sq. ft.
Build retaining wall (concrete) $30.00 – $60.00 per sq. ft. (min. $500.00)
Painting (trim only) $2,000.00 – $4,000.00 and up
Painting (trim and wall surfaces) $5,000.00 and up

Structure

Underpin one corner of house $5,000.00 and up
Underpin or add foundations $300.00 and up per lin. ft. (min. $3,000.00)
Lower basement floor by underpining and/or bench footings $50.00 – $300.00 per lin. ft. (min. $5,000.00)
Replace deteriorating sill beam with concrete $60.00 and up per lin. ft. (min. $2,000.00)
Install basement support post with proper foundation $800.00 – $1,600.00
Perform chemical treatment for termites $2,000.00 and up
Repair minor crack in poured concrete foundation $400.00 – $800.00

Electrical

Upgrade electrical service to 100 amps (including new pannel) $1,200.00 – $3,000.00
Upgrade electrical service to 100 amps (if suitably sized panel already exists) $800.00 – $1,600.00
Upgrade electrical service to 200 amps $1,700.00 – $3,500.00
Install new circuit break panel $700.00 – $1,400.00
Replace circuit breaker (20 amp or less) $100.00 – $200.00
Add 120 volt circuit (microwave, freezer, etc.) $150.00 – $300.00
Add 240 volt circuit (dryer, stove, etc.) $300.00 – $600.00
Add conventional receptacle $200.00 – $400.00
Replace conventional receptacle with ground fault circuit receptacle $70.00 – $140.00
Replace conventional receptacle with aluminium compatible type (CO/ALR) (assuming several are required) $60.00 – $120.00 each
Upgrade entire house with aluminium compatible receptacles, connectors, etc. $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
Rewire electrical outlet with reversed polarity (assuming electrician already out there) $5.00 – $10.00 each
Replace know & tube wiring with conventional wiring (per room) $1,000.00 – $2,000.00

Heating

Install mid-efficiency forced-air furnace $2,500.00 – $5,000.00
Install high-efficiency forced-air furnace $3,500.00 – $7,000.00
Install humidifier $300.00 – $600.00
Install electronic air filter $800.00 – $1,600.00
Install mid-efficiency boiler $3,500.00 – $7,000.00
Install high-efficiency boiler $6,000.00 – $120,000.00
Install circulating pump $400.00 – $600.00
Install chimney liner for gas appliance $500.00 – $1,000.00
Install chimney liner for oil appliance $700.00 – $1,800.00
Install programmable thermostat $200.00 – $400.00
Replace indoor oil tank $1,200.00 – $2,500.00
Remove oil tank from basement $600.00 and up
Remove abandoned underground oil tank $10,000.00 and up
Replace radiator valve $300.00 – $600.00
Add electric baseboard heater $250.00 – $500.00
Convert from hot water heating to forced-air (bungalow) $10,000.00 – $20,000.00
Convert from hot water heating to forced-air (two storey) $15,000.00 – $30,000.00
Clean ductwork $300.00 – $600.00

Cooling/Heat Pumps

Add central air conditioning on existing forced-air system $3,000.00 and up
Add heat pump to forced-air system $4,000.00 – $8,000.00
Replace heat pump or air conditioning condenser $1,200.00 – $2,500.00
Install independent air conditioning system $10,000.00 – $20,000.00
Install ductless air conditioning system $3,000.00 – $7,000.00

Insulation

Insulate open attic to modern standards $0.80 – $1.60 per sq. ft.
Blow insulation into flat roof, cathedral ceiling or wall cavity $2.00 – $4.00 per sq. ft.
Improve attic ventilation $30.00 – $60.00 per vent

Plumbing

Replace galvanized piping with copper (two storey with one bathroom) $2,500.00 – $5,000.00
Replace water line to house $2,00.00 and up
Replace toilet $500.00 and up
Replace basin, including faucets $750.00 and up
Replace bathtub, including ceramic tile and facuets $2,500.00 and up
Install whirlpool bath, including faucets $3,500.00 and up
Retile bathtub enclosure $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
Replace leaking shower stall pan $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
Rebuild tile shower stall $2,500.00 – $5,000.00
Replace laundry tubs $400.00 – $800.00
Remodel four-piece bathroom completely $6,000.00 – $50,000.00
Connect waste plumbing system to municipal sewers $5,000.00 and up
Install submersible pump $1,000.00 and up
Install suction or jet pump $700.00 and up
Install modest basement bathroom $6,000.00 and up

Interior

Add drywall over plaster $4.00 – $8.00 per sq. ft.
Sand and refinish hardwood floors $2.00 – $4.00 per sq. ft.
Install replacement windows $40.00 – $120.00 per sq. ft.
Install storm window $200.00 – $400.00
Install masonry fireplace (if flue already roughed-in) $3,000.00 and up
Install zero-clearance fireplace (including chimney) $3,500.00 and up
Install glass doors on fireplace $300.00 and up

Table provided by Carson Dunlop Home Improvement Costs