Finding a ‘bargain’ is important for many who would otherwise not be able to afford to buy a home. One way to get into the market at a great price is to buy a ‘fixer upper’, or a home that’s in need of some maintenance and/or repair. If you’re handy with a hammer, fixer-upper’s can be a great way to get a home for a lower price than other homes in the area.
A recent news story proves that, even if you’re a handy person, buying a home is always a case of ‘buyer beware’. One fact about buying a house that most people don’t realize is that, unlike just about everything you buy, you have no assurance about the condition of the house. In other words, there’s no ‘money-back’ guarantee if you buy a home and there’s a problem with it.
While homebuyers who are familiar with renovating might be able to fix a lot of what’s wrong with a house they buy, even when they’re ready to do so, the problems they discover might be more than they can handle.
“It was a nice fixer-upper,” says Claudette Charron in a CBC news story about a house she bought near Ottawa. “With some work and with my skills, I was going to fix it.”
The day after she moved into her new home, Charron had a chat with a neighbour who asked her about the damage in the basement. Charron asked what the neighbour was talking about and it was only then that she learned her house used to be a marijuana grow-op.
A surprising number of homes have been used as a marijuana grow-op, which means the previous owners or occupants converted at least part of the home to grow large quantities of marijuana.
Most people don’t realize how much damage a grow-op can do to a home. In fact, unless the damage is fixed, homes that were former grow-ops are usually unliveable due to health risks. Mould and mildew can form due to the moisture in the home and they can make the indoor environment toxic. Fixing the problem can mean ripping out walls to get rid of the mould.
In Charron’s case, estimates to clean up the home range from $25,000 to $100,000, and she has spent $30,000 so far.
Compounding Charron’s frustration is the fact that she paid for a home inspection before she bought the house. However, the inspector hired by Charron failed to report the grow-op.
The problem is that home inspectors in Ontario are still not regulated by the provincial government. Anyone can call himself or herself a home inspector and open a home inspection business, regardless of if he/she is qualified. The government has passed legislation to regulate inspectors, but the details of the regulations are still being worked out and the legislation is not yet in force.
What Does it All Mean for Home Buyers?
Home inspections are still the best way to learn about the condition of any home you want to buy. But it’s important to research the home inspector you choose. Make sure you ask for and check references, and be sure to ask for proof of their membership in the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) and/or the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) and verify that membership with those organizations.
Getting a recommendation from your Realtor is a good way to find a reputable home inspector as well. The Stephen Tar Team only works with leading home inspectors in the areas we serve. Even better, you can contact us for a free home inspection. Further to that, a Realtor with experience can add clauses and warranties into your offer to help protect you against unexpected issues.