A home inspection can provide you with the information you need for a well-planned approach to renovation and home maintenance. Consider:

  • A pre-purchase inspection of a resale home assesses the condition of a home you may consider buying. Is it structurally sound? Which repairs or replacements may be needed immediately or in the foreseeable future? When you buy with the intent to renovate, an inspection can give you a realistic impression of what is needed to bring the home up to the standard you want.
  • If you have lived in your home for a number of years, a complete inspection can give you a snapshot of the condition of your home - a solid starting point for a full plan of renovation and ongoing home maintenance.
  • A common reason for renovation cost overruns is the "unexpected". An inspection will help to reduce surprises that can throw your renovation budget and schedule off track. For instance, an inspection can help identify particular problems needing immediate attention such as faulty wiring or defective heating equipment, which may not be immediately apparent.
  • An inspection can help you assess your renovation ideas - can it be done, what will it take and what's the impact on the rest of the house? For instance, an addition may require a larger furnace or an upgraded electrical panel. Or new energy-efficient windows may necessitate better ventilation in the whole house.
  • For effective long-term planning and budgeting, it is important to know when to expect major home maintenance expenses. An inspection can make it easier to plan for future expenses, such as furnace and roof replacement.

Who should I talk to?

Most commonly, inspections are done by a professional renovator or a home inspector. Your choice will depend on your reasons for having an inspection done, and the type of information you need.

Professional Renovators

The services offered by professional renovators can vary greatly, and the best approach is to call a few companies. To begin with, professional renovators will automatically examine the parts of your house involved in a proposed renovation in order to estimate and plan your project - that's simply part of doing a professional job. Many renovators will also routinely identify repairs and upgrades that make economical sense to include in your renovation plans.

If the renovator is designing your project, the design phase usually includes a thorough inspection. On large jobs, this may entail a "feasibility study" or an inspection by a structural engineer or other specialists.

Beyond that, some renovators may offer additional assessment services.

Home Inspectors

If you want a third-party assessment of the condition of your home, you can hire a home inspector. Ask about qualifications, references and proof of errors and omission insurance.

Make sure the price includes a detailed, written inspection report and share the results with your renovator. Together, you will be able to develop estimated costs, a list of priorities and a schedule of work for renovation, repair and replacement that is right for you and your budget.