British Columbia was the first province to enact legislation requiring that home and property inspectors be licensed and insured. Now the province should strengthen that legislation to protect consumers if major defects or damage are overlooked by an inspector.
CBC News reported last week that a Vancouver woman is taking an inspector to court. The damage he allegedly overlooked in the $750,000 house she bought will cost her more than $100,000 to repair.
After she moved into the house, she found the sill plate (the wooden part that sits on the foundation) was rotten, asbestos was in the heating ducts and there was a hole in the roof.
When the damage was discovered, the inspector refused to accept liability, offering only to refund his $565 fee. He said the inspection report was not a guarantee or an insurance policy.
The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors of B.C. says it has an excellent professional complaint-review system, but has no authority to offer damages.
For a homeowner seeking damages, the only recourse is going to court, an expensive and time-consuming process. The province should consider implementing standards and procedures that offer an intermediate layer of protection to the homeowner in case something goes wrong. Court should be the last resort for the cases that can’t be resolved through other means.
Regardless, no one should ever consider buying a home without first getting it thoroughly checked by a qualified inspector. A proper home inspection is not a thing of the moment — it can take six or eight hours. Several hundred dollars is a small price to pay for the knowledge that a $750,000 house is safe to live in and worth the price you’re paying.
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