Should New Laws Make Home Inspections Mandatory In BC?

With the huge number of bidding wars, spawned by the ever increasing demand for getting into the market, home buyers are feeling the pressure.

Many are jaded by the idea of getting that dream home. For others, its about buying a piece of investment property before the next guy.

This fierce competition leads to tight closing times, and in more cases than not, the home owner elects to forego a home inspection for fear of losing out. It is like pure capitalism vs. survival of the fittest (financially speaking).

When considering the thousands of homes being sold this way, statistically many of these homes will have a number of budget blasting repairs only to be discovered after the buyers take possession.

This article has been written in response to a recent video/news story about a Surrey home owner who is now is frustrated and discouraged after discovering a number of major issues in his brand new home…

In the story, Global News explains the nightmare this new home owner has been going through after he purchased a brand new townhouse, without an inspection.

He figured that a new home was a low risk investment, as it is covered by a new home warranty program.

Check out this story from > Global News <

This competitive environment makes it easy for people to turn a blind eye to the potential problems that buyers, like Frank (mentioned in the article) will have to face when they buy a brand new lemon without a home inspection.

Buyer beware is not relevant when home buyers are not given the opportunity to have an inspection…

When the market is slow, we all know that almost everyone is getting a home inspection done before they buy a home.

And many people will tell you that buying a home without an inspection just doesn’t make sense – yet these same people turn around and end up buying their homes without an inspection as well.

This seems odd, but when I questioned this, I was told a variation of… “Until you experience a situation where you feel this immense, pressure (due to the competitive market, bidding wars, etc) then the logical decision takes a back seat to fear of missing out.”

In some cases, home buyers have opted to get “partial” or “walk through” inspections during an open house. This is just marginally better than not getting an inspection at all.

No matter how good or efficient the home inspector is, the inspection is still limited, usually by time. These inspections are typically booked last minute, and in many cases performed without a written contract.  No contract means no liability, no protection for the buyer or responsibility for the inspector – which is not legal in BC.

Furthermore, home inspections are complicated and difficult to do well even when all conditions are favorable. So the chance of missing something during a “partial inspection” increases, resulting in a false sense of protection for the buyer.

Shouldn’t a brand new home be problem free?

It sounds plausible that when you buy a brand new home, you’d be getting a hassle free home, with maybe a few minor cosmetic flaws that can be easily repaired.  This is not at all the reality. A house has several systems and components that require skilled workers to get it all right, which rarely happens.

I have discovered a number of problems with brand new homes… such as missing roof vents, loose pipes, missing flashings, faulty circuits, broken faucets, missing structural members, partially installed doors and missing attic insulation, mold issues… to name a few.

When houses are built under realistic deadlines, fewer problems can be expected.

Issues are more likely to happen during a housing boom (like we have now) when so many homes are being built at one time. The deadlines and pressure to construct the homes in rapid succession can lead to hiring unskilled workers, mismanagement, short cuts and poor workmanship.

Regardless of ones perception on the viability of a brand new home, mistakes are going to happen. The buyer’s expectation should be in line with reality.

Do new laws need to be enforced to protect home buyers?

We’ve seen throughout history that change is typically reactive, rather than proactive.  Laws change when there is enough pressure from the masses to force the government to make these changes.

As a home inspector, I can tell you that Consumer Protection BC has taken a firm stance to ensure that home inspectors in BC are not only licensed and insured, but must adhere to strict protocols to guarantee we are legally permitted to practice in BC. As a result, this province has the best protected public in the country when it comes to the home inspectors.

At the same time, if protecting the consumer tops the agenda, it only seems to make sense that Consumer Protection BC and the government should sit down and figure out a plan to change the laws, thereby leveling the playing field for all parties.

If not, home buyers will continue to buy homes without inspections… and they will keep rolling the dice on what is arguably the largest single investment they will ever make.