20 January 2020,

What should I check during a pre-purchase home inspection?

Know the 7 critical factors to check in a pre-purchase home inspection.


The purpose of a pre-purchase inspection

When you request a pre-purchase inspection, the goal is to find out if there are any signs of potential problems.

You want to know the exact condition of the property and all of the components that make up the property.

According to the standard of practice of the Quebec Association of Building Inspectors (AIBQ), the pre-purchase inspection consists of “making a visual examination of all systems and all installed components that are easily accessible”.

The inspector then usually has between 7-10 days to submit a written report. This report:

  • Declares the state in which the components of each element are verified,
  • Identifies those that cannot be verified; and
  • Explains the reasons why the inspection could not be done.

Here is a detailed but not exhaustive list of what the pre-purchase inspector should examine:

Pre-purchase inspection of the building structure

If there is no significant indication proving the probable existence of an anomaly, the pre-purchase inspector is not obliged to recommend digging around the foundations or making the interior of the walls accessible.



Although the objective of the pre-purchase inspector is not to carry out a detailed analysis of the building structure, each element must still be scrutinized, such as:

  • The roofs and ceilings,
  • bearing walls,
  • Floors,
  • crawlspace,
  • Foundations:
    • the presence of a white powdery deposit will be checked because it could be a sign of water being present around and under the soil,
    • the existence of cracks in the floor will be noted as this could lead to possible water infiltration.

Pre-purchase inspection of the exterior of the property

A pre-purchase inspector is not required to analyze everything and see everything. However, a property inspection carried out in a professional manner will have taken into account:

  • external covering of the walls:
    • vinyl clapboard,
    • wood fiber clapboard,
    • aluminum,
    • steel,
    • Fiber cement.

Has water seeped into the back?

Are there weepers or weeping tiles?

Are there any cracks?

  • the garage door electric control,
  • slopes of the ground and the direction of runoff,
  • walls intended to support the earth (support),
  • sidewalks leading to your door,
  • landscaping:
    • Plants dripping onto the top of the foundation may be the cause of water infiltration. Even minimal, the water creates a humid environment conducive to the development of mold in the structure,
    • Excessive landscaping can prevent foundations from drying out properly and cause excess moisture in the concrete.

In addition, a pre-purchase inspector will check if the wood is rotten on the:

  • Window or door frames,
  • Related structures: galleries, balconies, terraces…,
  • The eaves and railings.

A roof pre-purchase inspection

A pre-purchase inspector is under no obligation to suggest ways to correct the problems found. Rather, he will choose to recommend the intervention of an expert, depending on the area of expertise (architect, engineer, entrepreneur, mason, etc.)

The pre-purchase inspection also covers:

  • The flashing around the base of the chimney
  • The brick of the chimney:
    • Has water seeped into the back?
    • Are there weepers?
    • Are there any cracks?
  • Roof coverings:
    • Deteriorated shingles can cause water infiltration
  • The gutters
    • clogged gutters can cause water infiltration through the roof (ice barrier) and cause water damage to the basement
  • The attic (attic), if possible,
    • poor insulation or ventilation of the attic can cause humidity and mold problems as well as premature wear of the roof (structure and materials),
    • the presence of flammable materials around the chimney can increase the risk of fire …

There are persons who pose as pre-purchase inspectors because the discipline is not yet supervised and regulated. Someone with a strong and dynamic personality, with persuasion skills, and who communicates with ease and knows a little about property inspections may volunteer to do the inspection. This will not benefit you in any way if you ever need to go to court regarding a conflict.

Pre-purchase inspectors who are partners of the Home Inspection Quotes network are very knowledgeable about the standard of practice recognized by Quebec authorities. This standard explicitly defines the manner in which an adequate property inspection is to be carried out and the limits thereof.

Please feel free to complete the online request form on this page to receive up to three (3) FREE price estimates from qualified building inspectors selected for their professionalism, honesty, skills, and experience.

Your request for a free quote will be forwarded to pre-purchase inspectors in your region, whether you are from:

✓ Baie-Comeau,

✓ L’Assomption,

✓ Beloeil,

✓ Saint-Lambert,

✓ La Prairie,

✓ Sept-Îles,

✓ Thetford Mines,

✓ Magog,

✓ Sainte-Thérèse,

✓ Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville,

✓ Saint-Constant,

✓ or elsewhere in the province.


Pre-purchase inspection of the heating system

A pre-purchase inspection excludes any method or measure which aims to demolish in order to have visual access to the interior of:

  • Mechanical conduits,
  • Walls,
  • Ceilings,
  • Mechanical systems, or
  • Any other space:
  • Unverifiable,
    • Hidden, or
    • Inaccessible.

Such as:

  • The equipment producing the heat and its distribution system.

Rather, a pre-purchase inspector will check:

  • if there is a heat source in all habitable rooms and
  • if the central heating appliance is clean and free from corrosion.

Pre-purchase inspection of the electrical system

A pre-purchase inspector checks the components of a home, including the electrical system for your protection.The function of a pre-purchase inspector is not to verify whether the installations meet the standards in force and the Building Code. A pre-purchase inspection gives you the opportunity:

  • to know exactly what condition the residence you are planning to buy is in,
  • to be aware of major or urgent repairs that must be carried out as well as
  • to know the work to be done in the short, medium, and long term.

Thus, with regard to the electrical system, the building inspection will take into account:

  • The proper function of the system:
    • switches,
    • lighting systems, and
    • electrical outlets.
  • the correct connection of the wires in the sockets,
  • the proper functioning of the systems (circuit breakers) which protect against short circuits and overloads,
  • the grounding of each electrical outlet threatened by humidity:
    • outside the house,
    • in the garage,
    • in the bathroom,
    • in the kitchen.
  • the electrical input:
    • the electrical panel should be at least 100 amps,
    • the power of the electrical panel should be clearly indicated.
  • the water heater,
  • the taps,
  • water flow,
  • the water pressure will be checked by letting the water flow to the maximum from all the taps in the bathroom on the upper floor while flushing the toilet,
  • piping,
  • Leaks will be detected by visual inspection.


Pre-purchase inspection of air conditioning and ventilation

A building inspection is strictly visual. With that in mind, it is better for the pre-purchase inspector to make his assessments during the day.

Your presence is still strongly recommended during a pre-purchase inspection. It is, indeed, possible that you can collect more relevant information about the property that you want.

In the end, a pre-purchase inspector will provide you with ideas about the aspects that need to be  improved and will inform you of the longevity of a system and all of its installed components such as ventilation including:

  • the air exchanger
  • the air vent
  • the air conditioning system,
  • its energy production system,
  • And the humidity level of the basement will be checked.

Pre-purchase inspection of the interior of your property or condominium

Many people don’t know that it is possible to have a pre-purchase inspection of the interior of a condominium. However, the board of directors of the co-ownership syndicate is responsible for the common areas. A property inspection cannot be conducted there.

However, if you wish to acquire a 1,000 sq. ft. (93 sq. meter) property, it will cost you approximately $500 to $600 for a pre-purchase inspection. You will need to allocate about two to three hours of your time. If the residence is larger or older, the fees may be higher.

For a pre-purchase inspection of the interior of a building, the inspector will check:

  • dividing walls,
  • the presence of cracks on the walls and ceilings will be checked,
  • railings,
  • the stairs and their steps,
  • the counters and cupboards in each room (mold, among others),
  • ceilings, walls, and doors of a garage adjoining the house to ensure gas tightness,
  • the holding tanks which have the function of accumulating a sudden water supply before letting everything flow into the house’s drainage system.
  • The pre-purchase inspection also takes into account security systems, among others:
    • Alarm systems,
    • carbon monoxide detectors,
    • smoke detectors,
    • the quality of the locks on the doors and French windows,
    • the presence of grilles on the windows.

A pre-purchase inspector will greatly influence your decision on whether or not to purchase the property. If you buy the house, a less favorable pre-purchase report can serve as a “tool” to negotiate the selling price.

However, it is extremely important to contact a pre-purchase inspector who has a membership card from a well-established association in Quebec. Indeed, to date, the profession is still waiting to be supervised and regulated.


Association, certification, and regulation of pre-purchase inspectors

Real estate brokers are part of the OACIQ, the real estate brokerage self-regulatory organization. Similarly, pre-purchase inspectors who are partners of Home Inspection Quotes, at the very least, need to belong to:

✓  the Association of Inspectors and Experts in Buildings (ANIEB) or

✓  the Association of Building Inspectors of Quebec (AIBQ).

For example, a building contractor with many years of experience could become a very competent building inspector. In such a case, it would be:

  • subject to the Consumer Protection Act,
  • required to have professional liability insurance coverage in the event of errors and omissions,
  • he must prove his technical competence:
    • by passing the exams of the Association which he joins
    • practical examination: carry out inspections in accordance with accepted standards of practice,
    • theoretical examination: inspection report,
    • keep their knowledge up to date through continuous training.

Another way to ensure the competence of a pre-purchase inspector is to verify that he belongs to a professional organization such as:

  • the Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ),
  • the Ordre des technologues professionnels du Québec (OTPQ),
  • the Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec (OEAQ)
  • the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec ( (OIQ).

The Association des consommateurs pour la qualité dans la construction (ACQC) recommends hiring a pre-purchase inspector belonging to a professional organization because their standards of practice are dictated by law and they are under obligation to ensure the protection of the public.


Compare 3 home inspection quotes for your pre-purchase inspection

Receive your quotes without delay by filling out the form on this page. You will promptly receive up to three (3) quotes from three (3) pre-purchase inspectors in your region, no matter where you are in Quebec.

You only need to compare and choose the pre-purchase inspector who best meets your criteria and your budget. You will not be asked to sign a contract.

By using Home Inspection Quotes, you can be sure of doing business with a building inspector who is:

  • professional,
  • a member of a well-established association in Quebec,
  • offers a competitive and fair price.

Don’t waste any time and contact us to find the best building inspector for the home or property you wish to buy!