Check mate

Lots of problems can hide within the walls, ceilings and floors of a new home. Home inspector Darren Smith shares why its important to call in the professionals before taking the plunge.

Roof trouble? Darren Smith’s on top of it. - RILEY SMITH
Riley Smith
Roof trouble? Darren Smith’s on top of it.

At what stage of the home-buying process should I bring in an inspector?

Once you have found a home you would like to buy, negotiate a purchase price with the seller. At that point you have a number of days to organize and complete several things, one of them being a home inspection. It is best to start researching home inspectors in advance so that you are not in a rush to find an inspector at the last minute.

I'm looking at buying a really old home. What should my main concerns be?

What is your first impression of the home? Don't discount your intuition. Ask yourself a number of initial questions. How does it look from the street? Does it look well-maintained? Well cared for? What is the age and condition of the windows? The roof? If it has an oil-fired heating system, what is the age and condition of the system and the oil tank? What is the size of the electrical service? 60 amps, 100 amps, 150 amps, 200 amps? A final concern would be the condition of the basement if the home has one. Does it appear musty?  Are there signs of water leaks?

Are there any recurrent issues with older homes in Halifax and Dartmouth I should be looking out for?

Problems with the exterior of older homes are common because of time and weather. Also issues with chimneys, fireplaces, energy efficiency--- like heating and electrical costs, how much insulation there is and whether the windows and doors feel breezy or cold----safety and electrical wiring are common.  

What are some issues that home inspectors look out for that a new home buyer may not even notice?

Health and safety issues are easily overlooked by buyers. These concerns might include: signs of air quality problems, signs of mildew, products that may contain asbestos, lead pipes that can contaminate drinking water, fire hazards and lack of fire and gas detection. Experienced home inspectors are always on the look out for these potential problems.

Darren Smith has over 18 years' experience as a private home inspector in Nova Scotia and is the owner of Halifax Home Inspections, a 100 percent homegrown Halifax company. Read more at

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