Most home buyers understand they should always have their home inspected prior to finalizing a purchase. A qualified inspector will help identify current or potential problems with a home. It’s important to use an experienced and qualified inspector who meets the criteria set out by the B.C Institute of Property Inspectors (www.asttbcpi.org) and/or the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors of B.C (www.cahpi.ca/). Their web sites offer a number of tips as well as a listing of qualified inspectors in your area. Many people don’t realize that there are several different levels of expertise recognized by the provincial associations which include from highest to lowest : Certified Property Inspector (CPI), Certified House Inspector (CHI) and Provisional Certified House Inspector (CHI(P). Anyone can call themselves a home inspector so be sure to ask your inspector about his/her qualifications and the scope of work he will be undertaking.
All Certified inspectors should have a solid general knowledge of the basics such as electrical, plumbing etc but will often refer serious issues to experts in that particular field. For example, if they identify wiring that appears to have been done without a permit, they will often bring it to your attention and suggest you hire an electrician for further detail. Inspectors will examine the interior and exterior of the home but don’t examine areas that don’t offer them reasonable access. For example, they won’t normally remove dry wall to examine the insulation and they definitely won’t examine or even comment on drainage unless there are obvious problems.
Faulty drain tile systems can cause significant damage and are often overlooked because they are buried underground. Drain tiles, especially in homes over 25 years old, can easily be partially or completely blocked by roots or other debris. Many older North Shore homes use a drainage system that consists of short sections of clay pipe laid with a quarter-inch space between them to let in water. This system is not very efficient as all of the water does not enter the pipe and can build up against the foundation of your home ultimately causing water damage to your basement. The more rain, the bigger the problem. North Shore homes obviously receive more rain than many other parts of the country so its critical to ensure that your drainage system is clear. Modern day drain tiles are made with plastic or PVC perforated pipes but even they can build up blocks.
The solution to any concerns about your future home’s drainage is to have a Video Diagnostic Inspection of your external drainage system. Essentially this is a process where a certified technician (not the home inspector) will guide a small camera through the drain tile to inspect drains and pipes and identify conditions in the piping system that may be causing a blockage. These cameras provide reliable images that are clear enough to easily identify damage and even possible future issues. Any build up of debris or dirt can also clearly be seen, allowing technicians to determine the right approach to address any issues and plan for future cleaning.
I highly recommend this type of a drainage inspection for anybody purchasing a home in North or West Vancouver. After all, nobody wants to be in bed on a rainy, January evening worrying if their pipes are clean.