Home Inspection Articles

Home Inspection Tips
Home Inspector tips

Home Inspection Tips & Articles

                                      By Homeowners Edge

                                                                                                                                                 Home Inspections Ltd.

Homeowners Edge

Who is on your side when choosing and working with a builder or contractor?

Most people are not construction professionals. When they choose and work with a builder or contractor, they are up against a team of professionals and they don’t stand a chance. When I ask them, who helped them or who is on their side they usually tell me no one, a relative, or the sales person, But never a professional. I always wanted to help them as a professional. One of the things I did when I started my company, -Homeowners Edge home inspections Ltd.- as a Professional home inspector and residential construction consultant was put together a service to offer homeowners help before they find themselves in the middle of a problem with a disreputable builder or contractor. I called it -Residential Construction Project Over-site- but it is much more then that. I can look at the drawings and contract, get estimates, check the contractors work, guide the homeowner, and if something does go wrong I am on their side.  You would think there is a market out there for this type of service but I have not had a lot of response yet. I guess that the second part of the question is do you need someone to be on your side? Every time I hear about a bad contractor taking someone’s money or a customer that is upset with a home builder, I think, “If I was there I could have done this or that to stop, or at least help   them after being taken advantage of.” If you are about to start a home build or a renovation project, if you want someone to check the work done buy a contractor before you pay them, or if you want an independent report for your builder or warranty provider, I can help.
Thank you
Harry Gavacs
Homeowners Edge Home Inspections Ltd.
(780) 721 8562

Posted 22 weeks ago

Is it time to do a fireplace inspection and cleaning? and six common issues found on a Fireplace Inspection


Is it time to do a fireplace inspection and cleaning? I went over to a relative’s house the other day and we got to talking about the weather changing- they were looking forward to using their fireplace this fall. Because I am a home inspector I instinctively asked how long ago did they have a fireplace inspection and cleaning; they bought their house about 15 years ago and had a home inspection done at that time. They could not remember if the fireplace was even looked at by the inspector and have not had their fireplace looked at since they bought the house, so I reminded them that when any glaze is appearing in the flue, cleaning should be done immediately and offered to take a quick look at it. After a “we don’t want to put you out” and a “do you think it is really necessary” I told them that it would make me feel much better if they let me do it for their family’s safety and that if I left without looking and the house burnt down I could not look at myself in the mirror. They agreed to let me do it so I would not have this burden.  The fireplace was in need of a good cleaning and here is part of the list of other issues I found-  I thought I would shorten the list to the most common issues they would share with other home owners:

1.            Combustibles too close to firebox.  

Keep the hearth and area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and flammable materials. A build up of clutter too close to the firebox can be the cause of a house fire.

2.            Grout deterioration, needs repointing.

The space inside the fireplace is the combustion chamber or firebox. The firebox walls should be made of solid masonry units (firebricks).   The mortar between the bricks is a special type of heat resistant clay mortar used just for fireplace combustion chambers. The mortar should be intact and fill all the joints between the bricks. If it is starting to fall out or deteriorate it is time to have a professional repoint the firebox.

3.            Crown and wash deteriorating.

The masonry chimney cap- also referred to as the masonry crown, wash, or splay- is the top component of a masonry chimney. It covers, closes, and stops moisture and the elements from entering the chimney chase. The masonry chimney cap should have a slope to the outside edge of the cap, that will direct and shed water away from the chimney. The cap should be rebuilt if it starts to deteriorate to avoid weather penetration.

4.            Separation from wall, the chimney should be monitored for visible tilting or separation from the building.

Any gap between the chimney and wall should be frequently measured to monitor whether it is increasing. The footing should be monitored for: deteriorated footing from frost and weather, soil erosion, settlement, frost heaving, or expansive clay movement beneath the footing. If the gap is increasing a professional should be consulted to engineer a solution.

5.            No spark arrestor or chimney rain caps.

A metal rain cap and spark arrestor should be installed on a masonry chimney. The chimney pictured above has neither installed. The purpose of a spark arrestor is to stop sparks and embers from a fireplace setting alight to a flammable roofing surface or falling onto flammable material on the ground. The chimney rain cap stops weather and small animals from getting in to the home. They are often built together as one piece for installation on a chimney. It is recommended that all chimney’s have a spark arrestor and chimney rain cap as part of the chimney system.

6.            Sealant weathered and cracked.  

Chimney flashing should be installed where the chimney stack meets the roof covering to prevent water penetration. Flashing is typically made from corrosion-resistant metal, such as copper. Counter-flashing is installed in the mortar joints and then folded downward to cover the step or base flashing. Caulking can be used to seal and redirect rain away from the flashing joints. Excessive caulking around this area may be signs of past leaks.

At the end of the quick inspection of the fireplace I showed them the list I came up with- which was quite a bit more extensive then the 6 Items I have shared with you. I told them that they should have a fireplace professional come to do the maintenance and have the fireplace cleaned. Autumn is just about here and we all love a nice warm fire in the fireplace. After my visit with our family, I thought of all the other families out there that might not be aware of the condition of their fireplace.  Now I am sharing this with you: Would you do me a favour and have someone look at your fireplace. I felt it was important to share this with you in hopes that this fall when we hear of another chimney fire it is not yours.

Thank you,

Harry Gavacs

Homeowners Edge Home Inspections Ltd.


Posted 24 weeks ago

Simple Things: Tip 001- Loose and Dangling Wires

Simple Things: Tips from a Home Inspector to Help Sell Your Home

I have been doing home inspections and new-home construction for a great deal of my life. In that time, I have come across many small issues that upset home buyers causing them to have second thoughts about the purchase of a home- some of those minor concerns have disrupted or even killed the sale of the home.  I would like to share them with you to help you avoid the pains and suffering of this experience.  Most of these simple nuances that I have seen are inexpensive and easy to fix. If you take the time to fix these potential deal-breakers before the home buyers see them they never existed, but if the home buyers see the nuisances, they can be in their mind even after they have been fixed. Homeowners want to feel safe and secure in the home they live in, and having these minor matters dealt with in advance will help assure that they do.

Harry Gavacs

Homeowners Edge Home Inspections Ltd.

Simple Things: Tip 001- Loose and Dangling Wires

Issue: Loose and Dangling Wires

When potential home buyers see loose or dangling wires they become worried. The first thought that comes to their mind is: “Is the wiring safe?”. The wiring may have been that way for years or may not even have power, but to a potential home buyer it may look or feel like the wiring is unsafe. It is better to clean them up to avoid the feelings of worry and fear on the part of the potential home buyer.


Turn off the breaker switch to the wire. Place a wire nut on the end of each loose wire. Enclose loose wire ends in an electrical junction box with a face plate. Place and tack the dangling wires snug and in a straight line to the framing with electrical staples. If you’re running parallel to joists, staple the wire to the inside of the joist every couple feet. Turn the breaker back on. Cleaning up around the electrical panel may take a little more skill and time, but you can follow the same method.


When it comes to electrical work and repairs,


do anything that you feel unsure of. It is better to have a trained electrician or handy man do the work than to expose yourself to a situation that you are unconfident with. Always err on the side of safety

Posted 28 weeks ago
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Posted 28 weeks ago

What Do You Need to be a Home Inspector in Edmonton Alberta?

What Do You Need to be a Home Inspector in Edmonton Alberta?

As a licenced, insured, bonded, and certified home inspector and home inspection company, Harry Gavacs, owner of Homeowners Edge Home Inspections Ltd., has spent years developing his craft and would like to insure the reputation of the industry by commissioning this article. On a personal note, he wants to make sure you do not fall victim to a fly-by-night imitation home inspector and home inspection company. This article was developed after reading the Alberta Government Service website, Home Inspection Business Licence article, Home Inspector’s Licence article, Fair-Trade Act, and using his experience to clarify and simplify the information therein obtained, so you can feel safe with the inspector and inspection company you choose.

First of all, a reputable home inspector and home inspection company will have all its licences and credentials available for you to review- most upright home inspectors will provide these credentials in person or allow you to review them online. You should see these credentials before you let the inspector start the inspection: it is the law for inspectors to provide to you, or the authorities having jurisdiction, their credentials or to provide proof of their existence.

The Alberta Government defines a home inspector as “an individual who is employed by one or more home inspection businesses to conduct home inspections.”- a home inspection meaning “an opinion as to the condition of a dwelling based primarily on a non-invasive examination of readily accessible features and components of the dwelling”. This simply means that a home inspector- a person doing the home inspection- should inspect and test what he can see, should easily operate instruments, should not take anything apart, and should not enter areas that are unsafe or not easily accessible. For example: taking off a painted-shut access to an underground crawlspace with a bunch of boxes on it, attics with blown-in insulation that is not meant to be walked on without disturbance of the insulation, or going on slippery snow-covered roofs.  

The Alberta government has set the bare minimum requirement for individuals seeking to become licenced as a home inspector as follows:

·         A home inspector must have a Home Inspector Licence.

·         Must be working for an approved home inspection company.

The home inspector applicant must provide proof of education including both:

·         A degree, diploma, or certificate in home inspection from an approved educational institution, and

·         Satisfactory completion of a test inspection of a dwelling, supervised by an approved educational institution, licensed home inspector holding a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) designation, or Registered Home Inspector (RHI) designation OR an approved home inspection designation or licence from an approved industry association or regulatory body.

The government demands the minimum basic requirements for a home inspector to meet: If they cannot meet these requirements they are not legally permitted to work in Alberta as a home inspector. You should not use these non-inspectors and should report them to Alberta Service. They are a hazard to you and other homeowners.

Once we get past the most basic level of legislation, you should look a little more in-depth at your home inspector before you make your mind up:  a home inspector is only as good as their education, experience, industry involvement, attitudes, and references. When choosing an inspector look at these extra criteria that are the real differences in a home inspectors:

·         How much education does your inspector have?  Learning should be a life style, not just reaching the minimum requirements. An inspector should be continually learning, so the home inspector’s list of educational achievements should be quite extensive. Home inspection associations such as InterNACHI requires that their inspector participate in continuing education.

·         How much experience in home inspections and related industries- such as construction, engineering, or compliance officers- does the inspector have? Most home inspectors did not start off as home inspectors: they needed to develop their understanding of how a home works- they need industry experience. The best inspectors come from industries that study building sciences.

·         Is the inspector involved in the development of the industry? Reputable inspectors have association memberships and are involved in industry associations such as InterNACHI, CanNACHI, AlbertaNACHI. Being a member of industry associations is good, but the best inspectors are trying to improve the industry inside the associations and working with government bodies.  These inspectors have made home inspection a passion in their life and want to be the influencers of the industry.

·         Do the attitudes and morals of the home inspector match yours? You can learn a lot about a home inspector by the morals they portray, such as compassion, honesty, and caring. Although this is sometimes downplayed by others, to me it is very important. When your morals match your inspector’s, you will feel confident your home inspector is looking out for your best interest and you can trust them. That is a very important piece of the inspection puzzle.

·         Does your inspector have references? Having clients that stand behind the inspector is a wonderful thing. There is no better compliment than someone saying that you “say what you do and do what you say”. An inspector’s reputation will materialize when their clients give or post a reference or review.  

We cannot guarantee that you will get a perfect inspector, but if you follow these general guidelines you are more likely to get a good inspector than if you do not.  Here are a few more articles to help you get your best results when you are ready to buy or sell your home:

Choosing A Home Inspection Company, Understanding Your Home Inspection Contract, and Should I Have A Home Inspection?

Copyright © 2017 HGavacs

Posted 33 weeks ago

Should I get a home inspection?

Should I get a home inspection?

With out a doubt, Yes. You are not just buying a house, you are buying the home you live in, play in, and have gatherings in. When you find the right home, you enjoy the wonders that it brings and should be spending your time getting attached to it not worrying about the problems it may have. A home inspector helps you put these worries behind you: They look past all the marvels of the home and examine the inner workings of it. Home inspectors spend everyday investigating and assessing attics, basements, and garages for any problems lurking in the dark corners that that you as a homeowner may never think to look in, so you can fully enjoy your home. A home inspection is your chance to find issues not unlike; overdue maintenance, incomplete repairs, and safety concerns before these problems become yours. After the home inspection, you will know numerous issues to budget for, what to negotiate for, or what issues to completely avoid by continuing to look for a different home.

Harry Gavacs, a Professional licenced home inspector for

Homeowners Edge Home Inspection Ltd.

in Edmonton, Alberta, says “Before placing an offer on a house you are interested in purchasing, be sure to include a home inspection as a condition of your purchase offer.” By including this condition, it will act as an opportunity to take a second, sober look: if major defects or repairs are identified during the home inspection, this gives you the opportunity to back out of your purchase offer without penalty within a specified time-frame.

A typical inspection begins outside at the roof and ends in the basement with stops in between at every major house component - Attic, electrical, heating, garage, etc.…. Harry explains that a good inspection by a professional inspector does not stop until the inspector sits down with you and explains to you the condition of your home. Every home inspection should meet to the standards set by the Government of Alberta and the Fair-Trade Act. Most home inspections start at approximately $500 and takes about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size and age of the house. Some houses may need a little more attention then others so an experienced inspector should be able to recognise such homes and recommend supplementary inspections if the home has unusual circumstances.

Additionally: don’t miss inspections on New Home Construction. Just because something’s new it does not guarantee perfection. During times of economic boom or economic down turns these are the most likely the times in which something can be missed or overlooked by a builder.

After you receive the detailed report and the home inspector sits down with you and goes over the inspection, you will need to take time to assess whether there is sound reason for you to back out of the sale, such as serious mechanical faults or foundation issues. Most people may want to handle minor fixes themselves to avoid nitpicking with the seller. For more grey situations— like a worn-out water heater for example, you can ask the seller to pay for repairs or give you a credit at closing so that you can choose the contractors and supplies you prefer.

One final tip from Harry: When purchasing a house, ask your realtor about a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS). The SPDS is designed to alert buyers of the known deficiencies of a property. It is then the responsibility of the buyer to conduct any further investigation on the problem with a qualified home inspector. In turn, the responsibility of the seller is to truthfully answer any and all questions posed by the buyer. Once forewarned of issues the house may contain, it is the buyer’s decision whether to pursue the home or not.

When you ask me “Should I get a home inspection?“ With out a doubt, Yes.


Copyright © 2017 HGavacs

Posted 33 weeks ago