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The Cottage Inspection

The problem with getting a home inspector to evaluate your cottage before you buy is that they can be quite expensive.  Do it anyway.  It can also be a challenge to find a home inspector willing to travel significant distances through rural areas.  Do it anyway.  Getting a qualified home inspector to a remote cottage site can also often involve additional costs for extra travel time and expenses.  Do it anyway.

In case I'm being too subtle, getting an inspection done by a qualified and experienced professional is absolutely crucial before you even consider finalizing a cottage purchase.  If you think that getting one guy to drive his pick-up truck to your site is inconvenient, just wait until that faulty foundation that you overlooked at time of purchase requires a team of contractors and all of their heavy equipment to make the trek.  A really good inspector can pay for himself during the first few minutes that he spends on your property.

The inspector will walk the property with you, pointing out present or potential future problems, and will likely sit down with you to provide a written summary for you to keep.  Be sure to bring a pen and paper to write down the details of the walking tour, however.  The information will be coming fast and furious, and there is usually a lot of it.  Don't trust your memory when you are spending that much money.  The written summary will often be in the form of a binder, sub-divided into sections that each cover a different aspect of the structure (e.g., roofing, interior, exterior, electrical, etc.).  You might even pick up some information about the neighbourhood, or get some advice on how much and what kind of insurance you will need to purchase.

While the inspector should be able to spot major problems with the structure, especially with regard to the foundation or the roof, don't expect them to be able to detect all of the flaws based on their relatively cursory inspection.  On average, you should probably expect them to be able to identify about 80% of the issues that will need to be addressed during your first year of ownership; other items that can wait a bit longer should become part of your five-year plan.

Both of my own experiences with home inspectors have been valuable and positive ones.  Each was recommended to me by the real estate agent involved in our purchase, and each proved experienced and knowledgeable.  In both cases, the cost of the inspection was about $300 before taxes, although keep in mind that my cottage is less than an hour from the city, and that price is probably at the lower end of the spectrum.  You can likely expect to pay $300-$500 and up, depending on the size and remoteness of your property.

Caveat emptor,


Related Resources

Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors
CAHPI is a national association, whose mission is to promote and develop the home inspection industry. CAHPI is considered the voice of Canada's "home inspection industry".

The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors
The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors is a U.S. non-profit organization helping home inspectors achieve financial success and maintain inspection excellence.

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