Here is a non-exhaustive list of additional building inspection to be performed when buying a property, or to verify the source of a problem that arises after purchasing a building.
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After months of research, visits and offers to buy, now you think you have finally found the rare pearl. You are feverish and excited at the idea of getting your hands on a building inspection that will allow you to make thousands of dollars in profit, in addition to making you richer by several thousand dollars annually.
But beware! remain vigilant, because you are primarily buying an immovable likely to pose various physical problems which could affect your theoretical returns calculated before the purchase. These anomalies are not always apparent and often require further investigation to be detected.
A good building inspection, by a building expert, can detect most anomalies in a building. But it risks being insufficient. It may well be that further testing is required to complete the due diligence and building inspection process. Here is a non-exhaustive list of additional tests that are very useful when buying a property, or when you want to verify the source of a problem once a building has been acquired.
Despite all your precautions, it is possible that certain elements have escaped your building inspection experts and that you find yourself in the presence of hidden defects . It is never desirable, but it is a reality that every real estate investor must face. This is why it is important to be very vigilant.
1. Pyrite test
First, clarify what pyrite is. It is actually an iron oxide found in backfill that is located under concrete slabs in a basement or garage. In contact with water or humidity, this stone may swell and lift the slabs, causing damage that is sometimes costly. It is not uncommon to see repairs required in the order of tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Smoke test
Here is a test little known and little used when buying a building, but which could be very useful once the building inspection has been acquired. This type of test is very effective in detecting leaks in a drainage system. It basically consists of introducing smoke into the entire drainage system and then observing the place or places through which the smoke escapes. This test is, most of the time, offered by exterminators. Ask about their services.
3. Phase 1 environmental test
The Phase 1 environmental site assessment is used to establish the environmental history of a property. Its objective is to verify whether the activities on a site and its surroundings risk, or have risked in the past, of causing contamination of the soil and groundwater of the property under study.
This assessment is required by financial institutions before issuing
a mortgage loan involving a multi-unit residential building, or commercial or industrial use. Imagine for a moment that you are about to buy a property located steps away from an old gas station that operated decades earlier. How would you be able to find out? Well! this test would make it possible to discover the existence of this old service station.
4. Phase 2 environmental test
The phase 2 environmental site assessment , also called “preliminary environmental characterisation”, is necessary when the phase 1 environmental site assessment has revealed signs of actual or potential contamination that may affect the environmental quality of the site at the time ‘study. Evaluators sample and characterise soils or groundwater at predetermined locations and submit samples for laboratory analysis to confirm building inspection or rule out the presence of contaminants in concentrations greater than those permitted.
5. Radon test
Radon comes from uranium in the ground which, over time, gasified and infiltrated the interior of the building, particularly through cracks in the concrete slabs and foundation walls. Being colourless, invisible and odorless, its detection can only be done with devices designed for this purpose. Be careful, as you could end up with lung problems if you are exposed to radon for a long time.
6. Water quality test
Did you know that in Quebec it is the seller’s responsibility to sell a building inspection offering drinking water? When the water is supplied by the municipality, this usually does not cause a problem, and we do not have to worry about it. But what about when we are in the presence of an artesian well, for example? We must ensure the quality of the water. This test is relatively simple to perform, as it involves taking a water sample and having it analysed in the laboratory.
7. Camera test
Here is a very useful test when the time comes to check if the Australian drain around the footing of the foundations is clogged or not. Imagine for a moment the potential water damage caused by roots that have entered the Australian drain! If in doubt, have it checked!
8. Air quality test while building inspection
The quality of the indoor air in a building inspection is very important because we spend many hours working, studying, relaxing or receiving services indoors. It is therefore important to ensure that the air we breathe meets the standards and recommendations established.
Several exterior (such as smog, pollution and pollen) or interior (such as microorganisms, dust, chemicals) contaminants can affect the occupants of a building. During your site visits, pay particular attention to , especially in basements. The air quality there is often poor.
Building inspection is not always sufficient
As you can see, checking the physical quality of a building isn’t just about inspecting the building. All of these possible tests should be taken into consideration when constructing a pessimistic business case scenario. Since the latter is determined by the total outlay made, you will agree with me that, in the event of additional costs in the order of several thousand dollars, your return would be greatly reduced.
To avoid this, how about trying to get some or all of these costs reimbursed when negotiating with the seller?