It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a home; however, the importance of a thorough home inspection cannot be overstated if you’re moving into a used, resale home – which is not a concern when buying a new, custom-built home.

For residents of the Niagara Region, where Blythwood Homes has established a reputation for crafting exceptional, award-winning custom homes, ensuring that your investment is in perfect condition is a crucial step. This post will guide you on what to look for during a home inspection of a resale home.

Advantages of a New Home

In the context of inspecting a home and before moving in, buying a new home has several distinct advantages over a used one, including:

  • New homes are inspected by town officials at every stage of construction. This means critical systems such as the foundations, framing, insulation, HVAC, plumbing, finishes, etc., are recently certified as being up to code – codes that are generally more stringent now than they were when older resale homes were built. This essentially removes the need for a home inspector.
  • A home inspection of a new home is more of a walk-through to approve finishes and point out any touch-ups to paint, drywall, flooring, etc., that may be needed.
  • New homes come with a Tarion new-home warranty – providing buyers with a worry-free purchase and protection against sinking capital into a “money pit.”

These benefits make it clear that a new home provides better protection for your investment, along with peace of mind.

Understanding Home Inspections

A home inspection is an essential step in the home-buying process, offering, ideally, a detailed look into the condition of a property. It involves a professional inspector examining the home’s structure, systems, and overall condition. This is important for custom-built homes where each element is designed to meet specific standards and preferences. Which is just one of the many reasons it’s crucial to choose the right home builder.

A thorough inspection not only identifies potential issues but also provides peace of mind, affirming the quality and considering safety in your home. These concerns are magnified and make it far riskier to buy a used home, placing a greater emphasis on the home inspection of a resale property.

The Role of a Professional Home Inspector

Hiring a professional home inspector is highly recommended, especially for resale homes. Professional inspectors have the expertise to know if a home’s component systems meet regulatory safety standards and minimum functionality. They are also able to identify issues that may not be obvious and can provide detailed reports on a home’s condition. They also offer recommendations for any necessary repairs or improvements, ensuring that your new home meets your standards of quality and safety.

When to Retain a Home Inspector & What to Expect

A home inspector can usually detect any issues on the exterior finish of homes, including siding, caulking, windows and doors, decks, patios and grading. However, these inspections of second-hand homes are very limited in finding issues hidden behind the walls. Items like faulty wiring, poorly sealed ducts, and faulty piping cannot be inspected behind completed walls.

Perhaps your best bet is to look for signs that the selling owners have taken care of their home with signs such as renewed caulking, replacement windows, etc., to indicate that they have been careful to maintain the home.

Moving indoors, a home inspection can identify some issues, but the results tend to be limited since the inspector cannot look behind the walls. If the weather outside is cool, the inspector can use thermal imaging to check the R-value of walls and heat loss.

However, there still remains far more risk in buying a resale home than in buying a new home.

If you find a resale home that is recent enough to have been inspected under the Tarion program, you should ask to see this for confirmation.

With that being said, here are areas you should pay attention to during the home inspection of a resale home.

Exterior Inspection

The exterior of a home is its first line of defence against the elements and gives a home its curb appeal, so a thorough inspection is key to ensuring its integrity, longevity, and eventual resale value. Here’s a summary of inspecting a home’s exterior.

Roof Inspections

A home’s roof is one of its most critical and costly components. A professional home inspector will look for signs of aging, damage, or improper installation. Key indicators include missing, loose, or worn shingles, damaged flashing, and compromised gutters and downspouts.

In custom homes, roofing materials might vary from standard asphalt shingles to more unique options like metal, slate, or tile, each with its own inspection criteria. For instance, tile roofs require checking for cracked or broken tiles, while metal roofs are inspected for corrosion or dents.

A closeup of properly installed metal roof tiles

Inspecting Brick Walls

A brick facade adds a timeless elegance to any home, but it also requires careful inspection to ensure its longevity and structural integrity. When inspecting a brick facade, key areas of focus include:

  1. Mortar Condition. Check the mortar joints between bricks for signs of wear or deterioration. Mortar should be intact and not crumbling.
  2. Brick Integrity. Look for cracks, chips, or signs of spalling (flaking or chipping) in the bricks themselves. These can indicate structural issues or exposure to excessive moisture.
  3. Efflorescence. White, powdery residue on the surface of bricks, known as efflorescence, is a sign of moisture evaporation from the bricks and can be an indicator of underlying moisture issues.
  4. Weep Holes and Ventilation. Ensure that weep holes (small openings in the brickwork designed to allow water to escape) are present and not obstructed. Proper ventilation in the brick facade helps prevent moisture buildup.
  5. Staining and Biological Growth. Look for staining or growths such as mould or moss on the brick surface. Mould can lead to health problems if it reaches the interior of a home.
  6. Alignment and Bulging. Check for any misalignment or bulging sections in the brickwork, as these can be signs of foundational or structural issues.

Inspections of Siding

Siding should be assessed for cracks, rot, or signs of pest infestation. A home inspector will also check for proper installation and any gaps or misalignments, which can lead to moisture intrusion. Custom homes might feature a variety of siding materials, from traditional wood or vinyl to more unique options like fibre cement or stucco, each requiring specific considerations during inspection.

Window Inspection

Windows must be checked for proper sealing and functionality as they significantly impact the energy efficiency in your home and are vulnerable to moisture and insect infiltration. Signs of condensation, cracks, or faulty seals can indicate issues.

Inspecting Decks, Patios, Driveways and Walkways

For decks, patios, and other outdoor structures, inspectors look for structural integrity, checking for loose boards, unstable railings, and signs of wood rot or pest damage. Driveways and walkways must also be inspected for cracks or damage.

Landscaping Inspection

Landscaping is evaluated for its impact on the home’s foundation and structure. Proper grading for drainage and the condition of trees and shrubs near the home are critical. In custom homes, landscaping is often designed to complement the architecture and requires an assessment to ensure that it does not pose any risks to the structure.

Inspecting the Interior of a Home

Moving indoors, a home inspection should focus on ensuring that all fixtures and appliances are functioning correctly and up to code. The walls, floors, and ceilings must also be inspected for any signs of damage or poor craftsmanship. In custom homes, it’s also important to pay attention to the finishes, details, and those must-have features you included in your design.

The comprehensive inspection of a home’s interior should cover several key areas; here’s what to look for:

1. The Plumbing System

  • Pipes and Fixtures. Check all visible pipes for signs of leaks or corrosion. Inspect faucets, showers, and toilets for proper function and water pressure.
  • Water Heater. Examine the water heater for age, condition, and any signs of leaks or rust.
  • Drainage Efficiency. Test drains for speed of drainage, listening for gurgling sounds which may indicate blockages.

2. Electrical

  • Electrical Panels. Inspect the electrical panel for any signs of old or faulty wiring, and ensure that all circuits are properly labelled.
  • Outlets and Switches. Test all outlets and switches for functionality. Look for modern, grounded outlets in living spaces and CSA outlets in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Light Fixtures. Check that all installed light fixtures are working and securely mounted.

3. Heating and Cooling Systems

  • Furnace/Boiler. Assess the age and condition of the furnace or boiler. Check for proper ventilation and signs of rust or damage.
  • Air Conditioning. Ensure the air conditioning unit functions effectively and doesn’t make unusual noises or emit an odour.
  • Ductwork and Vents. Examine the ductwork for leaks and ensure vents are clean and unobstructed.

4. Walls, Floors, and Ceilings

  • Ceilings. Look for cracks, water damage, or any signs of structural issues. In custom homes, pay particular attention to the finishing touches and craftsmanship.
  • Flooring. Check for any unevenness in flooring, damaged tiles or boards, or worn areas in carpeting.
  • Paint and Wallpaper. Look for peeling paint or wallpaper, which can indicate moisture issues.

5. Windows and Doors

  • Operation and Seals. Test all windows and doors to ensure they open and close smoothly. Check for drafts or gaps in the sealing.
  • Frames and Locks: Inspect the frames for damage or decay and check that all locks function properly.

A home inspector checking a door frame

6. Attics and Basements

  • Insulation. Verify there is adequate insulation in the attic.
  • Leaks or Water Damage. Look for signs of leaks or water damage, particularly in basements.
  • Foundation. Inspect the foundation walls for any cracks or signs of moisture penetration.

7. Unique Custom Home Features

  • Custom homes often include unique features such as bespoke joinery, specialty rooms (like home theatres or wine cellars), and high-end materials. These require careful examination to ensure that they meet the expected standards of quality and functionality.

8. Safety Features

  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Ensure detectors are present, correctly installed, and functioning.
  • Fire Extinguishers. Check the expiry date and condition of any fire extinguishers.
  • Check for Radon. In older homes, it’s crucial to check for Radon. You can purchase a Radon detector online or at most hardware stores, and have it with you during the inspection.

Preparing for a Home Inspection

To make the most of your home inspection, prepare a checklist of areas you want the inspector to focus on, especially any custom features. Accompany the inspector during the process to gain firsthand insight into the condition of your home. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or for clarification on any issues they identify.


A thorough home inspection is a crucial step when buying resale property. It is often your only opportunity to catch potential issues and major problems.

On the other hand, as you prepare to move into a new Blythwood home in the Niagara Region, this inspection is basically a formality to ensure all the finishing touches meet your expectations. Everything you can’t see behind the walls during the inspection of a used home has recently been inspected and certified by municipal inspectors in a new, custom-built home. This gives you peace of mind, which is priceless, and confirms the quality of your investment.

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All renderings are artist’s concept only and are not to scale. Photos of model homes are not standard and include upgrades selected by the homeowner.
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