For most consumers, buying a condo is the biggest investment they will make in their life. They often feel disadvantaged due to lack of technical knowledge when faced with the magnitude of the task of assessing the true condition of the building. It is therefore recommended to hire the services of an expert to carry out such a real estate transaction.
Although in theory the seller is bound to a warranty of quality - that is, to guarantee that the property if free of any hidden defects - this does not shield you from all troubles. Moreover, deeds of sale frequently include a clause which states that you declare to "take the building in its present condition, having seen and examined it to your satisfaction."
The Benefits of a Pre-Purchase Inspection
Before signing the deed of purchase, a professional inspection is essential in order to make an informed purchase and avoid unpleasant surprises. It allows you to :
- know the apparent construction or maintenance defects that may affect your decision to buy or not.
- make a summary assessment of the importance of the work to be done on the building.
- determine the amount you are willing to pay, and ultimately to renegotiate the purchase price
Choosing a Building Inspector
In order to proceed with the pre-purchase inspection of your condo and the building, it is essential to obtain the help from a building professional (architect, engineer or technologist). Their competence and impartiality guarantee a rigorous and professional approach. On the other hand, all building inspectors do not have the same skill level.
It is highly recommended to call a member of the Ordre des technologues professionnels du Québec, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, or the Ordre des architectes du Québec, to conduct the pre-purchase inspection. The inspector being a member of one of these orders, is indeed required to follow high standards of professional conduct and take out professional liability insurance (errors and omissions) to perform the act of inspection.
However, belonging to a professional order is not always a guarantee of quality. The best way to find the gem is still through word-of-mouth. Your family or your notary may refer you to a trustworthy building inspector.
If you wish to hire a home inspector who is not a member of the abovementioned professional associations, you must ensure that this person is covered by a liability insurance and insist that he provide you with a detailed written report following the inspection.
Determining the Scope of the Mandate
The nature and scope of a building inspection mandate usually consists of conducting a visual examination of the property in order to detect and describe any construction or maintenance defects, as reported on the date of inspection, and to prepare a report afterwards.
It is preferable to ask the professional not to limit the inspection to just the condo unit, but to also extend it to the common areas which are often major sources of deficiencies. The inspection of the common portions makes it possible to formulate judgments about the overall condition of the building. Thus, the advanced state of deterioration of a garage slab or a roof often means that the syndicate of co-ownership neglects the maintenance of the building.
Although your professional may not always examine the common portions from top to bottom , the inspection will reveal the general condition of the building. Furthermore, the professional should consult the building certificate and the maintenance book because they provde a good idea of the state of upkeep of the desired condo.
Once the inspection is completed, you will have an general idea that will allow you to buy your condo in full knowledge of the facts and at a fair price.
WARNING ! Major repairs to come? It is often during the pre-purchase inspection of the building or following the review of the documents relating to the building that it becomes possible to establish if major short-term or mid-term repairs on the building will be necessary.
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