Do I need a cottage inspection?

While every situation for each individual buyer is different, the general answer to the question is ‘yes’ an inspection is important.  What looks like it should be a small repair can result in a huge bill, a bill that you might not be prepared for.  Due diligence allows you to make an informed buying decision.

An inspection can also be used as a contingency in your offer to purchase.  Inserting specific clauses into the agreement may allow you to back out of your offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe if you are not happy with issues that were uncovered during the home inspection.

In some situations, a home inspection becomes a negotiating tool, whereby the potential buyer looks for a price reduction to offset certain repairs that need to be addressed. With many cottage properties, you should look to your realtor for advice regarding realistic reductions given the situation.  You might run into a situation where a small older cottage itself might only account for $40,000 in value on your $290,000 property purchase, with most of the value in the land.

A home inspector can approximate the installation age of major systems in the home like plumbing, heating and cooling, and critical equipment like water heaters. They can diagnose the current condition of the structure itself, and tell you how long finishes have been in the home. All components in the home have a “shelf-life.” Understanding when they require replacement can help you make important budgeting decisions.

Inspectors vary in experience, ability and thoroughness, but a good inspector should examine certain components of the home you want to purchase and then produce a report covering his or her findings. The typical inspection lasts two to three hours and you should be present for the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if necessary, ask questions. Also, any problems the inspector uncovers will make more sense if you see them in person instead of relying solely on the snapshot photos in the report, especially if this is your first cottage purchase.

Once you have the results of your home inspection, you have several options.

  • If the problems are too significant or too expensive to fix, you can choose to walk away from the purchase, as long as the purchase contract has an inspection contingency.
  • For problems large or small, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to either fix the issue(s), reduce the purchase price, or to give you a cash credit at closing to fix the problems yourself.
  • If these options aren’t viable in your situation (for example, if the property is bank-owned, is being sold as-is, or is being sold as the price being majority land value), you can get estimates to fix the problems yourself and come up with a plan for repairs in order of their importance and affordability once you own the property.

A home inspection will cost you a little bit of time and money, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did it.. Don’t skip this important step in the home-buying process – it’s worth every penny.