7 Tips you need to know about house hacking

House-Hacking at 22:
7 Tips Before House Hacking




When I was 22, my then-fiancé and I purchased our first house. It was a small, raised bungalow style house – about 600 square feet per floor, and it had two apartments in it.

The upper apartment was a one bedroom, living room, big kitchen and full bathroom. The lower unit was a one bedroom with an entry way living room, kitchen, full bath and bedroom.

The house was a great price for us back then. We had to put down 5% and the bank financed the rest. In Ontario, anything financed for more than 80% value requires high ratio insurance, which means the bank is insured if we were to default. We paid for that, of course, and lawyer’s fees as well as land transfer tax, which is a government tax that buyers pay when purchasing land. It’s a percentage calculation based on the value of the property.

So we bought this little house with a great big backyard, and the bottom rental unit was occupied by the seller’s son’s friend. We decided to assume the tenant (meaning, we kept him on).

Here’s some of the tips I learned about buying your first home that you plan to house-hack.

(house-hack: when you purchase a house with intention to rent out or subsidize the costs through tenants while you reside there.)

  1. Assuming tenants that are friends of the seller isn’t always the best bet. Whatever deal they had with the landlord previously does not necessarily continue – like payment arrangements. We had to chase down a few rental payments, which put our payments in jeopardy if we relied on that money.

You also do not have the opportunity to do background checks or credit checks as easily when assuming a tenant, as they already live there and have already “been approved” by the seller. Beware accepting anything sight unseen.

  1. Inspections on the house are only visual-deep. If you have tenants, be sure to ask what the issues are before the inspection. We did not know that there had been water damage in the basement prior to ownership, and as it was well hidden behind drywall not made for a bathroom, it crumbled on us one unsuspecting day.

Tenants are notorious for waiting until the house changes hands and then having a multitude of requests for upgrades and repairs, as the previous landlord and seller may have checked out – aka didn’t care anymore.

  1. Always plan to have enough money to pay the bills, even if your tenants don’t. Especially with property values skyrocketing in most places, you should never buy a property that is above your needs and means. For us, we made sure that we could afford the house without the tenant, but having a tenant meant we were mortgage free.
  1. Check your heating and air conditioning. If it’s all one system, and it’s in the basement, you will need to advise the tenant you need access if there’s ever an issue. Same goes for the electrical panel. Have a saucy tenant? They could turn off your hydro at any time!
  1. The other part of having only one heating system is that what goes in must come out. If one party smokes and the other doesn’t, it will still cycle throughout the house. Even if you have a smoke-free policy, it is very hard to enforce and you may find your part of the house filled with some interesting smells, and that also includes cooking, and anything else that is released into the air, like candles or incense.
  1. Who has access to the backyard? Who has access to the front yard? Our home had a huge backyard that we fenced in for our dog. Some tenants might find that a deal-breaker and want access. Make sure that you check with your tenant before you make major changes.
  1. Designate parking. Even though you own the property, your tenant or roommate might not agree that it entitles you to the main parking spot. That goes for single drives – be sure you can get your car out of the driveway when you need to!

These tips might seem straightforward, but be sure to think about them before you jump into house-hacking. We were young, and it was sometimes a disadvantage when we were looking for tenants because there wasn’t the same amount of respect for a young landlord.

Check into home insurance for renter coverage. Some may require a different insurance when you have tenants under your roof, and some may require that your tenants have their own content insurance, should anything happen.

Also, remember that there are people who count on you to provide them with the roof over their head. That means if anything breaks down (like a furnace or roof), it’s up to you to fix it promptly and safely. Even if they don’t pay rent on time (or at all), it’s a different situation when the necessities of life are being threatened. Be sure you can afford your house and all the bills, plus any repairs.

Lastly, no one cares for your home the way you do. Try to bank that extra money for a while until you have a good nest egg for any surprises that come your way. You’ll be amazed at how much better you can sleep at night when you are ready for anything!

Good luck and happy house hacking!


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Save My Rental: What You Need To Know About Tenant Selection


Rental properties are a recommended way to diversify your assets and to build passive income. But how passive is it? Tenants never treat your property like you want them to. Is it possible to find a tenant who will treat your property like a home?



TIP 1: Meet with your prospective tenants.

Do you have the opportunity to show your properties and meet applicants yourself? If you are your own property manager (or manage properties for someone else), I recommend showing your properties personally. Make a note of how applicants present themselves. Are their clothes in good repair? How is their hygiene? How do they stand and speak to you?

Not all tenants will present themselves as a confident and educated individual, and that’s ok. You are looking for respect, honesty, and genuine answers. You are looking to make sure they take care of themselves, because if they can’t care for themselves, how will they care for your property? 


TIP 2: Make sure to have an application.

I am always interested to see how many wish to take it with them, versus how many want to complete it right there and then. Of the ones who complete it right there, did they come prepared? Did they bring a pen? Do they know their employer’s number? 

If they choose to take the application with them, I would say it’s a one-in-three chance of actually receiving the application, if not less. Take note of the condition of the application when it’s returned to you. Is it still in pristine condition, or are there remnants of yesterday’s breakfast on it?

TIP 3: Ask where they work, and what their income is.

Seems like a “no-brainer” but knowing their income is a great tool to know if they can afford your rent. I like to use the 30-35% rule. 

Example: if their family income is $2,000/month, then 35% of that amount is $700.00. If the asking rent was $700 or lower, then they would be considered. If a family earns $2,000 and they are applying for a $1,000 rental unit, I would not consider them because of the risk. One sick day, a layoff or even jury duty could undo their finances. The math does not work in their favour. 

Secondly, I’m about to let you in on a little secret. How do you check if your applicant works where they say they do? Most phone providers and cell phones have a number blocking option. Block your number, call the employer and ask for your applicant. You are looking for a positive confirmation that they exist. If they ask you who you are looking for, and don’t recognize the name, then there’s a good chance Tommy Jones doesn’t work there.

By blocking your number, you cannot be traced back, and your applicant will not get into “trouble” for receiving a personal call.

Sly Side Note: Ask for “Tommy”. if they say Tommy who, then give the last name. Most people do not call and ask for someone by their first and last name. 

If they ask who’s calling, you will need to be creative. You could just answer with “Stacey, just returning his call.”  It’s also ok to say wrong number if you haven’t used the last name. 


TIP 4: Ask for references.

Did you know it’s more important to SEE references than it is to call them? Are their references from work? Good. Friends? Ok. Family or service providers? Nah. 

Not everyone will have a great list of references. However, if they do not have one or two professional references, then my next question would be, why not? 

A service provider will be limited in what they can say, if anything at all. A friend or family member is not likely to speak honestly about the applicant. Work references are more likely to be honest, or at least refrain from commenting on any “bad” stories. 

Sometimes the results of asking for references shows more about the character of the applicant than what the actual references say. 


How to pick a tenant: Sometimes the results of asking tenants for references shows more about the character of the tenant than what the actual references say. Click To Tweet


TIP 5: Listen to their stories.

Ask questions. Listen. Here’s a little insight to what you will find.

Ask the applicant why they are moving.

A) I’m new to the area. 

  • Ask where they are from, why they moved there, who’s in the area. If they are without any strings, you could be looking at a tenant who might rock a midnight move. If they are not answering any questions, they could be hiding something, and as a property manager or landlord, you do not need drama. 

B) I didn’t get along with my boyfriend/girlfriend and/or mother/father and/or neighbour/etc. 

  • Drama. Tread carefully. This could be a choice to create better boundaries OR this could be a tenant who is always the “victim” of some conspiracy. 

C) I didn’t get along with my landlord. 

  • Pay rent, keep the peace and maintain your unit. There’s not much else that a landlord asks for. What didn’t happen that your landlord “hated” you? Ask more questions. Beware of drama. 

D) Looking for more room/less costly place/somewhere to stay longterm because… 

  • These are more truthful answers, and less based on drama. 

Remember that properties have labels too. 

The amount of rent you charge will also dictate the applicants you receive. The lower the rent, the lower the income of the applicants you will generally receive. The higher the rent, the more diligent you will need to be of higher value properties, but that usually means the applicants are of a higher income stream as well. 

Do not misunderstand the above as taking away from anyone in crisis. That is a different situation altogether, and every effort should be made for those in crisis. Unfortunately, it’s like the boy who cried wolf – too many times, people will use a crisis story for sympathy, and it’s not real. 


TIP 6: How did they get to the property? 

Notice the method of how they got there. With a friend/family member? Do they drive? What kind of vehicle do they drive? Is it in good repair? 


TIP 7: Deposit/Last month’s rent

How do they want to pay for the deposit/last month’s rent? Do they plan to give you a cheque that is certified or a bank draft? Do they want to give you cash? Some will also ask if they can split it up, and pay it as they go. (The last option is usually an indication of affordability – see #3) 


TIP 8: Know your rights as a landlord and as a tenant. 

If you want the respect of a tenant, don’t be a greedy or sneaky landlord. By knowing the rights and responsibilities of being the landlord in your area, you will make better decisions and more importantly, ones that will stand up in court – if it goes that far.  

For example, the following are not allowed in Ontario (in regular rentals): 

  • No pet clauses are not allowed and cannot be enforced  
  • You cannot demand payment by post-dated cheques
  • You cannot require a pet damage deposit 
  • The only deposit allowed is equal to, and represents, one month’s rent
  • Tenants cannot be held responsible for (a lack of) snow removal or lawn maintenance

Remember that respect can go two ways. Be the first to give it, and the good tenants will give it back in spades. (Or at least rent and care of your property!)

TIP 9: Pets 

Ask about pets. You may have a bias towards those who have pets in rentals, but the best advice is to not share it. Ask if the tenant has pets, and listen to the answer. If they have pets, but plan to rehome them, I don’t think I would believe that. 

If they have cats: are the cats declawed? Neutered? Spayed? Up to date on shots? 

If they have dogs: what size? Are they trained? Does someone let them out during the day? Are they friendly? Are they neutered? Spayed? 


TIP 10: Insurance 

Lastly, require tenants to show you proof of tenant insurance. It may not be something you can require or mandate in your area, but you can certainly ask and recommend it. 

It’s much like anything in life – the more you respect your surroundings, the more you want to keep things in good repair, insure in case of loss or emergency, and pay to keep a roof over your head. 

Take your time, and show your unit to as many people as it takes to get a good tenant. Waiting an extra two weeks for a good tenant far outweighs the months required to get a tenant evicted. Use your “gut instinct” and don’t be taken in by stories of false loss.


Safety First 

Don’t show units alone. Bring a friend or a partner. Have them act as the handyman if you don’t want to be obvious. 

If you are showing the unit alone, leave the door open, and unlocked. Be sure to keep the door closest to you. Bring your cell and have an emergency number on quick dial. 

Show units in daylight hours. If you must show at night, bring someone or your dog. 

Leave a note on your calendar or at the office that says who you are meeting, their contact number, and the time of the meeting. 

Stay alert. Be cautious. Most people are good people, but you never know which one will make you wish you listened to that twinge of concern. 


I hope that you find the tips helpful. Please feel free to submit your questions below, as I love answering real estate questions!

 Join me on my email list for notifications and occasional deal alerts – I promise to not spam you, and you are always welcome to unsubscribe. Take care! 

Related Reading:

Mylo: Passive Savings for Massive Results
Real Estate Investing: 7 Questions You Didn’t Know to Ask
10 Simple Steps: Inside Buying and Selling Properties in Ontario
Mandatory Residential Leases in Ontario: Know What’s Changed
Think you don’t need a home inspection? Read this first.

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411 on Home Inspections: 5 Experts Weigh In


It’s spring, and the signs are all around us. I’m not referring to the green grass, the birds and leaves on the trees. I’m referring to the FOR SALE signs on the front lawns and street corners, the OPEN HOUSE signs at the intersections, and the hum of the real estate market getting oiled up for the busy season.

home inspection

Real estate really heats up with the weather. Houses get listed in spring and summer, and families like to move while school is out. First-time home buyers are looking to purchase their future pad, and empty-nesters start looking to downsize before the yard work begins.

One common question in every offer to purchase is, “Do you plan to get your house inspected?



The Offer to Purchase

The clause around home inspection is optional. It sets out that the Buyer intends to hire a professional to inspect the subject property (the home and the land). The Seller agrees to give the Buyer access (allows the Buyer and the inspector the right to come into the house for this inspection) and the Buyer will decide if the results of the inspection are suitable for the Buyer to complete the purchase.

In other words, if the professional inspector gives the buyer news that they weren’t expecting, the buyer has the right to back out, or cancel, the deal, but ONLY if the clause is inserted in the offer to purchase.

Without getting too technical on clauses and the offer (that’s a post for another day), I asked some home inspectors around Ontario to explain why inspections are so necessary with today’s purchases.

Read more about how to buy and sell property. 


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The 411 on Home Inspections

What is a home inspector?

The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, or the OAHI, is an association that sets out standards of education and professional development of home inspectors. Those who wish to be part of the association must apply, and maintain their credentials on a regular basis. It’s a regulating body that ensures to the public that the members are truly home inspectors – educated, knowledgeable and professionals. These are not “handymen” who call themselves inspectors.

The association provides a directory of members for peace of mind when finding a home inspector.

Not all home inspectors are listed there, but you can rely on the vetting process of the association to provide you with people who are truly in the business of inspecting homes and buildings for potential issues.

If you are interested in learning more about the OAHI, check out the website for great resources and details on the OAHI’s role in our community.

Each of our contributors are members of the OAHI, and their contact information is listed at the end of this post.

The Experts Weigh In:


If you could give one piece of advice to a new homeowner, what would it be?

John Hansen of HouseMaster Home Inspections:

“Make sure to get a Home Inspection and make sure that the Home Inspector is qualified. Qualifications are the type of education that they have:was a course online? Or was it a classroom course? Or a binder course? Are they a member in good standing of a reputable Association such as Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI)?” 

Asking about the level of qualifications an inspector has is a great way to ensure you are hiring someone who IS qualified to advise you on your purchase. Great advice, John!


Lisa Simkins of Superior Home Inspectors:

“Before owning: Before you put an offer in on any homes, research home inspectors in the area. Check out qualifications, reviews, etc. Most importantly, call them in advance to speak to them to ensure you are comfortable with them and they respond to you respectfully. This includes any that your realtor may refer.

After taking possession: Get to know your home, look over every system and feature thoroughly, reading manuals and your home inspection report as you go, to familiarize yourself with what you have and how stuff works. This will help you maintain the home in good condition and increase the chances you will recognize early warning signs when something needs to be fixed. If you bought without a home inspection, this would be a good time to have a home inspector go through your home with you and get you started on the right foot.”

Good to know it’s never too late to get the 4-1-1 on your home! If you didn’t get the inspection before you purchased, do it now.


Frank Gruszewski of Toronto Home Inspections:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Structural issues or weather resistance of the exterior are bigger issues that should be considered. Every home needs repairs and maintenance.”

Yes, great answer! The joys of homeownership. Don’t let a home inspection scare you. Every building will require maintenance at some point.

Alden Gibson of Inspections by Gibson:

“Maintenance is key in maintaining your investment. Your home inspector should have provided you with a maintenance schedule. Follow the schedule and you will save time and money with your new purchase.”

The cost of a home inspection may cause you to pause. This tidbit reminds you that a home inspection report is something that can serve you for years to come. Where else will you receive a book on home care that is customized for you?   


Roy Lamoureux from Your Home Inspector, Roy-L Inspections:

“Absolutely get a home inspection, no exceptions. This is the largest purchase you will make and it is too important to leave to chance.  Too many things can be wrong or hidden. Even if the market is hot, get the inspection completed before the date you present offers; many times, they have showings and in 1 week everyone presents offers and a price war breaks out. (With permission), you can do the inspection before to make sure house is OK. If you lose out, it’s not that much money vs the downside that you find out you will need $60,000 of foundation work once you move in.”

Now, this is an interesting take. I would normally have thought this would make more sense in our southern neighbours’ lands, but why not? If you know the house is right for you, do your homework and then it’s one less condition to consider by the sellers. It might give you the edge you need.


To summarize:
  • Ask for qualifications
  • Get an inspection before you buy, or even before you offer
  • If you did not get an inspection before you bought, then get one now
  • Review it and use it to maintain your home
  • Use all the tools in the report: maintenance schedules, record keeping, etc.


Some people say inspectors point out any little defect in order to justify their existence. How do you respond?


A little background to this question: how many times have you heard that inspectors will pick on any little problem just to prove useful for the money you paid? Let’s hear it from the experts!


Roy Lamoureux:

Not so for our company. We are not there long enough to even find everything that could be present as it is a visual inspection and we cannot see inside walls. Any latent defects present will not be discoverable. We do not comment on cosmetic things as they are easily changed. There is no such thing as a perfect house so we will find things without having to be nit-picky and it would be our pleasure to find a house that is perfect…haven’t found one so far. Even $3,000,000 houses have some items that will make it on a home inspectors’ list so price does not even guarantee anything. If the inspector is a member of OAHI or CAHPI, they are licensed professionals and take this vocation seriously. They have to follow a code of ethics so they are not trying to justify their existence. They will do a professional job with the home and your best interest at heart.”


Alden Gibson:

“The scope of the home inspection is to find the major problems with the house, if there are any. Maintenance of the home is critical. Small things turn into big things, and quite often a new home owner is not aware of some of the small things. A good home inspector should be teaching the client on how to maintain their investment.”


John Hansen:

“My clients hire me to go through the home and find things that are going to have an effect on them,either monetarily or emotionally in some instances. Some small things can be such a nuisance but cost very little, if anything, to fix. I am looking for the big stuff that may cost a lot, but if I report on the small findings as well, this is a value add to my clients.”

I am looking for the big stuff that may cost a lot, but if I report on the small findings as well, this is a value add to my clients. - John Hansen, HouseMaster, 411 on Home Inspections Click To Tweet


Frank Gruszewski:

“It’s our job to beat the house up unfortunately, and even a great home has a lot of little things that an experienced inspector will pick up on.  My goal when inspecting is to put everything into context so that buyers have a grasp of the overall condition of the house. Back to not sweating the small stuff, but I have to point it out.”


Lisa Simkins:

“Clients appreciate when our inspectors notice the small stuff, it reinforces the fact that we are taking great care in examining the home. When they see we are being thorough, it helps them relax and feel like they are in good hands. Also, a small thing to one person may be very important to another. Small things are generally easy to fix and if you catch them early, will prevent them from becoming larger, more expensive issues, or safety hazards.”

So, the experts point out BIG and SMALL things because everything could be important to you, the buyer. Just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean it’s bad. It could just be a learning opportunity for a non-experienced buyer, and a mentionable item to the experienced home buyer.


What’s the best way to explain why inspections cannot go beyond what the naked eye can see? (behind walls, etc.)

My first home purchase included obtaining an inspection. A year into ownership, we found a leak in the foundation which had rotted out our drywall. Why didn’t our inspector find that? The basement was finished, and without removing the drywall, we would have no idea. Inspectors can only inspect what they can see, and what can be tested with tools. Here’s how the experts explain it:

Frank Gruszewski:

“We look for visible clues but not every defect has come to light.  It would be irresponsible to point out everything than can possibly go wrong.  I tell buyers what I look for when I inspect a system so they have an understanding of the limitations.”


John Hansen:

“The seller owns the home and are the only ones that can remove paneling or cut holes to see inside. The inspector and the buyer are both guests in the home and should treat the home as such.”


Lisa Simkins:

“Home inspectors are not allowed to take apart a home to see what is behind things. We can open hatches and access doors and put a flashlight and camera in, or access areas that are normally accessible, such as attics and crawl spaces, as long as we are careful and move about in a manner that is safe and will not cause damage. During an inspection for a real estate transaction, we also have a limited amount of appointment time available. That being said, we also use an infrared camera, which shows surface temperature, and due to temperature patterns, which become visible, then we can infer more information than what is visible to the human eye. This is useful most often to find water leaks.”

(Would my inspection have benefitted from this? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think inspectors were using these in 2001, but it’s certainly something to ask for. Mental note: add to list of qualifications and questions for the inspector.)


Roy Lamoureux:

“We are there for a short time; 2.5 to 3 hours, and have many areas to inspect so inspection is visual and non-invasive. We don’t break open walls or pull things off like some TV celebrities do, as this is still not our or your home so we have to be respectful of the property. We look for evidence of non-performance, and are trained to know what the signs are. A latent defect could be missed until you do renovations. For example: A problem like a leak can be intermittent also and only when the wind blows on a rainy day from the east which occurs once a year. Imagine how difficult it would be to see problem. It is not a guaranty or warranty.”


Alden Gibson:

“The purchaser does not own the home yet. They have put in an offer conditional upon a satisfactory home inspection. The inspector and client are guests in someone else’s home and do not have the right to do destructive testing. That is why it is important to do your homework and hire a seasoned inspector that can read signs of previous history in the house.”


Bazinga! This is right on point!


Hire a seasoned inspector that can read signs of previous history in the house. Alden Gibson, Inspections by Gibson, on advice about home inspections. Click To Tweet


What’s the worst thing you encountered on your job?


This was my absolute favourite question. Here are the answers!


Lisa Simkins:

“A house infested with fleas and other bugs.”


And I just crossed off home inspector on my list of careers to consider…


Alden Gibson:

“I have been inspecting for 26 years and have performed over 9,000 inspections. I could write a book on worst things. I could use topics like electrical, plumbing, structure and the list goes on. You will have to be more specific in the question for an accurate answer.”


I wish you would write a book on it! I’d love to hear more.


Frank Gruszewski:

“I couldn’t narrow it down to one thing.  I’ve found syringes hidden in walls, bats in the attic and one time I looked up a fireplace chimney and said hello to the curious raccoon that was staring back at me. Might have been the yellow-jackets that swarmed me when I was on a roof!  That was a quick trip down the ladder!”


(My favourite response!)


John Hansen:

“Emotional distraught sellers or buyers.”


Definitely the hardest to deal with, I’m sure.


Roy Lamoureux:

“Double cracked foundation with water seeping in and I almost missed it because where the crack was found was difficult to see. 7 out of 10 times could have been missed as people will do things to hide problems even as simple as storing stuff in front of problem as they know we are not going to move all the boxes.”

And this is why we advocate for getting a home inspection! Save yourself the headache of legal fees and lawsuits by finding out the problems before they are your problems.


Read more about Questions and Answers on Mortgages  


What are three things investors should look out for when shopping for a property?


This question is designed for those who are looking for an investment property, like a flip or a rental. If you are seeking to diversify your investment portfolio, be sure to consider these tips to ensure you do not lose your investment!


Alden Gibson:

“Always take the time to look at the home in the daylight. Watch out for the agent that is pushing you into a deal without an inspection. Do your homework and find your own inspector that is working for you not the agent.”

Watch out for the agent that is pushing you into a deal without an inspection. Do your homework and find your own inspector that is working for you not the agent. - Alden Gibson, Inspections by Gibson. Click To Tweet

Roy Lamoureux:

Water penetration is the most important, as most houses have some. They can be anywhere: between the roof, around windows, walls, or foundation, and are usually from lack of maintenance, neglect or failure. Most often, if caught early, it can be a reasonable cost to repair. If left over time, it can cause rot, mold etc., and repair costs go up significantly. Structure is also most critical as it is the bones of the house, and repairs in this area are a significant cost. Problems are where someone makes changes to an existing house, and do not use licensed professionals, nor do they obtain permits. The original house (usually) was built correctly, and apart from age or neglect, defects are usually not found but still needs to be inspected to be sure.

Mechanical systems such as Furnace/Air Conditioner, Electrical and Plumbing would be the next most significant cost if it needed corrections, as this must be done by a professional for safety reasons.

Most common problems we find are usually to do with roof and windows, old furnaces or air conditioning, which can add up to many tens of thousands of dollars.

Most simple problems that could have solved everything are downspouts discharging beside the house instead of 4 to 6 feet away from house and grading slopes to house instead of away. Poor flashing or caulking at walls and roof, windows and doors is another easy fix. Caulking and weather stripping is super cheap and a home owner can do it if they want to also.

Best advice is once a year in the spring go around the complete outside of the house and look at everything. On your next home inspection, talk to them and they will help you make a list of what to look for each spring or better yet, have them come and inspect it for you or a licensed contractor can do the same thing.”


Frank Gruszewski:

“I really think that’s a great question for them to discuss with their realtor, not their inspector. Everyone has a different frame of reference – some want a fixer upper and some want a perfect home.  The neighbourhood is key – you can look at the cars in the driveway to see if it’s an upwardly mobile neighbourhood.”


John Hansen:

“1. Have permits been closed or opened for any work that has been done?
2. Are there proper fire separations where required?
3. Are there any serious issues with the wiring or plumbing of the home as well as water damage to the bathrooms etc.”


Lisa Simkins:

“Generally, the first priority, from a building condition standpoint, is no major structural issues. Another is that the house has been well-maintained with good quality renovations. If things have been let go, and there are long standing plumbing leaks, materials can be in poor condition inside the walls. Poor workmanship can result in areas that are difficult and expensive to repair, unsafe, ie. Poor electrical wiring. Ask for records of building permits of past work. Thirdly, investors want to be aware if there could be liabilities such as potential asbestos, mold or even abandoned oil tanks. Having an inspection will increase the chances you will find warning signs that these items could be present.”

Great point about the abandoned oil tanks. It’s happened in my town where homeowners have started to work the backyard, and find shells of a pool or an old oil tank hidden in the ground. Ask the questions, get the answers.


Do you think condominiums should be inspected? Why or why not?


This is the age-old question. Depending on the condo unit, owners may only be responsible from the drywall out. Some are responsible for what goes behind the drywall. Some units are freehold, some are not. Some only require content and liability insurance, others require brick-and-mortar, full replacement insurance. Here’s the experts’ take on condos and inspections.


John Hansen:

Yes, They have plumbing and electrical issues sometimes, and other safety related issues that can have a great effect on the buyer.”


Roy Lamoureux:

“I, personally, have not done any condo high-rise buildings and have mixed feelings about what should be inspected. I’m not sure if legislation goes far enough to protect the consumer. My question is, what if the condo corporation is not taking proper care of complete building? You may find in a year or two, a major repair needs to be done. Guess who pays. I believe they should be inspected annually and a report sent to all of the co-owners to keep transparency. This is my opinion only, this is not part of current industry practices.”


Alden Gibson:

“Yes. Most purchasers don’t realize that they are part owners of the building. As an example, if there are 30 units in the building, they are responsible for 1/30th of the cost of repair to the building or property. Let us say the driveway and parking lot has to be replaced for $100,000.00. There should be money in the reserve fund to cover the large repair, however the reserve fund will have to be replenished. Each unit holder would be responsible for $3,333.00 to replenish the fund. Most people think that the condominium pays for it but what they don’t realize is, they are the condominium corporation.”


Lisa Simkins:

“Yes, Condominiums, including townhouses and high rises, have problems in their individual units, due to normal wear and tear and aging. Sometimes previous owners have not maintained the unit well or are not aware that something needs to be fixed. Kitec water piping is an example of a material that was installed in many condo units and is now being discovered and removed due to a lawsuit. There can also be original construction deficiencies, which can be covered under warranty, if they are found and claimed in time (1 or 2 years). Common element parts of buildings which typically include exteriors and often heating systems, may have problems or be poorly maintained, which can lead to deterioration for the condo corporation as a whole, and affect things like maintenance fees and special assessments.”


Frank Gruszewski:

“Absolutely. I’ve found hidden leaks in heaters, under windows and risky plumbing (kitec).”

Quick Terminology:

Reserve fund: is a fund held in trust by the condominium corporation. This fund is assessed every 1-3 years to ensure there are enough funds held in case of emergency work needed, and for regular maintenance and repair. If the fund is too low, an assessment may be made against the owners in a proportioned amount by way of a special assessment (a one-time payment by owners) or by way of an increase in common expenses. Home owner associations should have reserve funds as well, and follow similar guidelines. Your lawyer or your accountant can give you an opinion on the reserve fund and on the audit provided by the corporation’s accountants.

Kitec:is a brand of plastic piping used in hot and cold water supplies to plumbing fixtures, and in heating systems with boilers. It was made from 1995 to 2007, and has been known to be a substandard product with potential problems and should be replaced. Read more about Kitec here.https://www.carsondunlop.com/home-inspection-services/the-story-of-kitec-plumbing/


Learn more about mandatory leases in rentals. 


Is a home inspection enough or do you think another professional, like a contractor, should examine a house?


I have heard this perspective on different real estate investing platforms. If the house is being purchased and you plan to reside in it mainly as it is, I believe a home inspection is a good place to begin. If you intend to renovate or rebuild parts of the home, I believe that a professional in that area of expertise should weigh in on your plans. If it’s a major electrical undertaking, a kitchen rebuild or an addition on a house, professionals can see more than meets the eye. Let’s check in on the experts’ opinion and see if my answer measures up!


Frank Gruszewski:

“A professional inspector should be able to tell you more than a contractor because that’s our specialty. A contractor is useful if you are thinking about renovating though.”


Alden Gibson:

“The only time another professional should be called in is to give a quotation on the cost of a major repair. An example would be to repair a foundation that is moving.”


Roy Lamoureux:

“An inspector will make recommendations for a licensed contractor to come in if they find something questionable, so in that case I would definitely have them come in. It is your money and the largest investment you most likely will make, to me there are no short cuts to protect yourself.”


Robert Kin, Founder of Superior Home Inspectors, takes over from Lisa Simkins:

“Being a Home Inspector, we are educated in many areas. We are considered knowledgeable generalists that know a lot about everything.We feel it’s important for any homeowner, real estate investor, potential buyer or seller to understand the fundamentals of a home and therefore if one yearns for a greater detailed breakdown, then we may involve reverting to a specialist in a given area. Due to limitations and liabilities, a specialist can deliver detailed reasoning for a given area.”


John Hansen:

“A qualified Home Inspector should be all that is required to come to an informed decision. If a Home Inspector finds something that requires an expert in a specific field, then we recommend this to the client. A properly trained Home Inspector is trained in many fields and has a trained eye to catch something that may affect the client.”


If a leak in a foundation appears to be fixed, is it still an issue?

Robert Kin:

“At the point in time of the inspection, an inspector would likely use their “eyes” and “smell” for a repaired area. If surface deterioration or water/moisture are present, we would then use an infrared camera and moisture meter to determine if there are any issues or identifying where a leak is coming from. A further investigation from a foundation/waterproofing specialist might be needed as they can take walls apart. If leaks are not found during an inspection, one should always recommend that the given area be looked at periodically going forward. Watching an area often can help identify concerns before they become expensive ones!”


If repaired leaks are not found during an inspection… the given area should be looked at periodically going forward. Watching an area often can help identify concerns before they become expensive ones! –Robert Kin, Superior Home… Click To Tweet


Alden Gibson:

“The key word is “appears.” I have seen many foundation repairs that are still leaking or the leak reoccurs after time. One of my questions would be, is there a warranty on the repair and is it transferable? Please remember the warranty is only good as long as the person that fixed it is still in business.”


Frank Gruszewski:

“Not if it’s stopped leaking!  I always tell clients to keep an eye on it though. In reality every house can have a new leak spring up almost anywhere.”


John Hansen:

“If the leak has been fixed by using proper methods as well as materials, there should not be any issues moving forward.”


Roy Lamoureux:

“If it is a wall crack repaired by an injection of sealant, it can fail again in the future. Repairs do not make it bullet proof, they may require monitoring or maintenance. If it is a cracked plumbing elbow and been replaced, problem is over…or is it? Maybe somewhere else there is one that will fail. I am not trying to alarm anyone, if a problem arises, my recommendation is to watch closer than maybe you would have. Any problem, if caught quickly, is not so major. A house is a complex mechanical device and will experience failure of parts at some point in time so just watch for the signs and repair early. A roof leak usually is in the valley, or at a vent or chimney or flashing, and can easily be fixed. Don’t try and stretch the life of the roof one more year. It may bite you in the backside as water can do lots of damage and the roof is first line of defense. Change it before its’ end of life, and replace properly with good quality materials. Do not cut corners, it’s not worth it in the long term.


This is sound advice, Roy. It’s true. Sometimes, when trying to stretch the dollar, we actually end up making it cost two. Treat your home like the biggest investment you will make, because it is. 


What does it mean when a house has “good bones”? Is that enough to bank on?


How many times have you heard “The house has good bones. The rest is just cosmetic.” Is this an old wives’ tale? Is it enough? Or is it just a fallacy?


Frank Gruszewski:

“Not really. It’s just a feel-good, means-nothing statement. Typically, it refers to solid structure. I prefer to tell people it has solid structure.”


John Hansen:

“A house has good bones usually would refer to the foundation and framing structure overall. As with anything, and especially a house, if you have a good foundation, then you have something good to build on. This saying “good bones” does not mean everything with the whole house. It is simply means, when properly used, that the home has a good foundation and frame on which other systems can rely upon.”

Robert Kin:

“’Good bones’ usually refers to the structure and what you can see. Unfortunately, this is not enough. One must understand the fundamental setup before making a claim that a house has good bones. A great example is the addition/renovation of an area. Unless there was a permit issued, one must look at the area closely to determine if any potential hazards are present. In the inspection field, having tools (i.e. an infrared camera) can provide a better understanding of your home.”


Alden Gibson:

“I don’t use those terms in my business. I just state the facts.”


Roy Lamoureux:

“Good bones is a slang term to describe the structure of the home. If it’s really solid, that is always good. The other elements of the home are replaceable and not crazy expensive and all in time have to be replaced anyways…like a new roof, new windows, new furnace. The joys of owning a home.”


Ain’t that the truth!


Do you have any words of wisdom for people contemplating foregoing the inspection process?


Alden Gibson:

“Good luck. You are making the biggest purchase of your life and going in blind. Remember you can’t even purchase a car in Ontario without an inspection and if it is a private sale you usually have your mechanic look at it. But you are going to spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and lock into a mortgage without a profession look at it.”


Frank Gruszewski:

“Caveat Emptor.  Buyer beware. If you need to make a firm offer, have an inspection done after so you know what needs to be repaired and possibly prioritized.”


John Hansen:

 “You are rolling the dice and that can be costly. If your uncle, or other friend or family member, says they can do the inspection, what training do they have? Just because they worked in one field or another does not give the same trained eye as a properly trained Home Inspector.”


Roy Lamoureux:

“DON’T. Huge mistake; would you buy a car and never take it to a mechanic? In my opinion, you should always get a home inspection. Even with new homes, there is an inspection process through the builder and Tarion. Always get an inspection from a Licensed Home Inspector, they are easy to find on the OAHI or CAHPI website.”


Robert Kin:

 “One should always have an inspection conducted. We are the ONLY service within the home transaction that provides a fundamental understanding of their home. When you are dealing with a 6-7 digit $ transaction, it’s very important to understand what you’re buying/selling. Depending on the scenario, it’s understandable to forgo an inspection if one is trying to be competitive in bidding for a house. BUT, if one ends up winning the house, we highly recommend having an inspection conducted. Outbidding for a home has nothing to do with understanding the fundamentals of a home.”


Thank you!


I would like to thank our contributors for their knowledge, time, and incredibly detailed answers. It’s clear that a home inspector is a necessary part of buying a home. Cost is not everything when it comes to an inspection report; ask about qualifications and memberships too. If a $50 difference in a report causes you pause, think of the cost missing an important element of your home could cost!


Meet the Contributors:


Our contributors share one last tidbit of wisdom with their biographies below. Please reach out to them if you are interested in hiring an inspector (buying a home is not the only time to use them!). The majority of these folks are located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe in Ontario. Even if you are not in the market for purchasing property at the moment, consider sharing this article with those who are.


Home Inspections
Robert Kin, B.A. (Hons), PHPIC
Founder of Superior Home Inspectors


Lisa Simkins, RHI, B.E.S., CET, WETT #10576
Registered Home and Mold Inspector 

“We have conducted over 3,000+ Inspections since 2010.

We wear several hats when conducting an inspection. We are both home and mold inspectors while using the latest of technologies, the infrared camera.

What separates us from other inspection companies is we are growing. We can take last second requests and go distances. Another strength is our integrity and customer service. For as long as you live or own the home, you can contact us. We like to keep our relationship ongoing.”

Superior Home Inspectors
P.O.Box 11565, 600 The East Mall, Etobicoke Ontario, M9B 6L1
Email: info@superiorhomeinspectors.ca, lsimkins@superiorhomeinspectors.ca
Website: www.superiorhomeinspectors.ca
Phone: 416-528-1443, 647-287-1962
Twitter: @InspectorLisa


Home Inspections

Frank Gruszewski, RHI for Blueprint Building Inspections and Toronto Home Inspections:

“Three final things:

1) look for an inspector who backs up his work with a quality of inspection guarantee, and in my case, I also offer a 90 day home warranty.

2) You aren’t just paying for the inspection, you are paying for the inspectors’ experience, knowledge and business integrity.  A cheaper or discounted inspection quite simply won’t be worth as much as mine – I’ve been doing this for 23 years!

3) Thanks for listening.  I’m an inspector. I like to talk! In fact, I will talk to anyone and give advice on the phone for free, even if they aren’t a client.”

Blueprint Building Inspections 
Toronto Home Inspections
60 Symons St, Etobicoke, ON M8V 1T9
Email: info@torontohomeinspections.com; frank@torontohomeinspections.com
Website: www.blueprintbuildinginspections.com
Phone: 905-330-2007


home inspections

John Hansen, RHI for HouseMaster Home Inspections
Vice-President of OAHI
Certified Level I Thermographer


“OAHI is the largest Association in Ontario. There are others, but with others, you can buy a certification. At OAHI the training has to be proven as well as demonstrated.”


HouseMaster Home Inspections
Hamilton, Burlington and surrounding areas
Office 1-905-689-4663
Toll free 1-877-594-6635
Cell 1-905-966-7378
Email: john.hansen@housemaster.ca
Website: www.housemaster.cawww.onestopshopinspections.com


Alden Gibson, RHI, ACI, NCH
Inspections by Gibson


Home Inspection


“Please remember anyone can be a home inspector in Ontario. Just print business cards. There are no government requirements at all. Home inspection is a different and distinct discipline that requires a lot of education and experience. Do your homework and you always get what you pay for? Don’t shop for the cheapest home inspector.”


Alden Gibson is Principal of Inspections by Gibson and has been performing home inspections since 1992 after completing the Home Inspections Training Program with Inspection Training Associates. He began his career in 1981 performing home renovations and moved on to custom home construction in 1987. In 1992, Alden began performing home inspections with The Home Inspector and in 1996, formed his own company. As a Registered Home Inspector (RHI) ASHI Certified Inspector and National Certificate Holder, he conducts an average of 300 to 350 home inspections per year. He is knowledgeable and up to date on current building code.

Alden has completed the Residential Indoor Air Quality investigator program through the CMHC and is certified as Radon Measurement Expert through NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) NRPP (National Radon Proficiency Program). He is a founding member of CARST (Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) and a Level 1 Thermographer, CAHPI New Construction Inspector.

Alden is an active member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI), the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors, Ontario (CAHPI ON), the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) 2015 President of ASHI, and the Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) and is an Associate Member of the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians & Technologists (OACETT). He has held many executive positions with the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) and the Board of Directors for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

Further, he is a member of the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Better Business Bureau; also a Founding member of The Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists CARST.

In 2005, Alden was recognized with the President’s Award from the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors and in 2002, he was given the President’s Award from the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. He has also received a Special Service Award from ASHI in 2004 also in 2008. The Philip C Monahon Award was presented to Alden in 1016 and also a Special Recognition Award from OAHI in 2003 for efforts and dedication to the associations. In 2012 he received the Innovation Award & Customer Service Excellence Award from Mike Holmes Inspections.

In the last 25 years, Alden has lectured extensively for several municipal real estate boards and real estate sales offices, at colleges and for the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors on various subjects relating to home inspections. He also has several years experience as an instructor for both the OAHI and the CAHPI. Alden is a facilitator for the Ontario Building Code Courses as well as the Defect Recognition Course and taught the Home Inspection Courses at Conestoga College for 14 years.

Inspections by Gibson
221 Woolwich St S, Breslau, ON N0B 1M0
Phone: (519) 648-3963
Website: http://inspectgib.com
Email: alden@inspectgib.com


home inspections

Roy Lamoureux
Roy-L Inspections
A Member of OAHI/CAPHI (Ontario Association of Home Inspectors)
Applicant Member #6203


“Remember there is no such thing as a perfect house! Only thing when you find any problems is how much and how quickly and who pays. I have had people purchase homes with hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs needed from what we found, but overall the house was a nice home in a great area with a great lot and huge potential, in the end they negotiated a better price from some of the cost and bit the bullet on the other costs. In this one case, they purchased and the home repairs were done in following month and half and now their house is amazing, raising 2 children there and with some upgrades they did at time of repair. One of the nicest homes in the neighbourhood. So…was it worth it even though there were problems? Never be alarmed by the findings, the point is so you can make the best decision for your family and financial situation.

Final Thought

If you want to better understand what is included in a home inspection and what is not, please go to the OAHI website. Before you sign a contract read it and ask questions. Be present for the inspection, walk around with the inspector and ask questions.”


8700893 Canada Inc (operating as Roy-L Inspections)
467 Speers Road, Unit 4-525
Oakville, Ontario L6K3S4
Office: 416-900-9641
Mobile: 289-795-0002
Email: RoyL.Inspections@gmail.com


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