Canadian Underwriter

How the pandemic is changing home inspections

April 16, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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If your clients are buying or selling a home, they can still get it inspected despite the pandemic, but one professional notes the volume of business is down.

“For close to a month, we have been working in what I would call isolating circumstances,” said Reg Deck, a home inspector who owns two AmeriSpec franchises in Ontario. “We are the only one in the home during the inspection.”

Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, it was normal for clients to accompany the inspectors during the inspection, Deck told Canadian Underwriter Monday. “We used to encourage buyers to show up during the inspection so that they would learn about it as the inspectors go through it.”

Home inspections are intended to alert buyers to issues that could lead to property losses, if not fixed. Examples include foundation problems and roofs and furnaces needing replacement.

“It is difficult to give yourself the required six feet of space between people and try and remember to do that while you are trying to focus on the job at home,” said Deck. “It makes it easiest if there is no one around to worry about turning around and stopping short and they are right there beside you.”

One of Deck’s franchises is in Peterborough and the other is in Kingston. For AmeriSpec, business has dropped recently due to the fact that fewer homes are being listed. This week, Deck has four inspections scheduled; before the pandemic, it was normal to have 30 a week.

About 90% of clients are people who are going to be purchasing a home. The remainder are sellers who want to be aware of issues that they can account for when pricing their home, said Deck.

By not having the buyers with the inspector, this gives the sellers or tenants more confidence that there are not going to be people other than the inspector walking through the home.

So now, when AmeriSpec has completed an inspection, they send a report to the buyers so they can ask questions on phone. They include photos in the report showing any issues the inspector found, said Deck.

Inspectors now conduct their work differently compared to before the pandemic. “If we are touching things without gloves on, we wipe beforehand with Lysol wipes and then wipe it afterwards,” said Deck. “You have to remember to complete other steps during the inspection, so it does take a little bit of extra thought to remember, ‘What did I touch last? Was I wearing gloves?’ and that kind of thing.”

AmeriSpec has plenty of hand sanitizer, which Deck he ordered from a distillery. “What I am starting to run out of is the N95 masks,” he said. He ordered some three weeks ago from an American supplier but has not seen them yet.

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