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Buyers can avoid horror stories for a few hundred dollars

Ottawa Citizen - Saturday, January 28, 1995
Author: Ina McCarthy


University of Ottawa professor Clinton Archibald thought he had found his dream home. He loved the house and the area. So soon after seeing it, he made the all important decision.

"We made an offer on the condition it passed a home inspection." recalls Archibald.

Looking back, he says it was the best $300 he ever spent.

The home inspector found that both sides of the basement were lower than the rest of the house by 15 to 20 centimeters. That's because the house was built on lead clay, a young type of clay that hasn't compacted properly.

"It was like the hose was floating on a kind of Jell-o pudding." says Archibald.

The owners said they would fix the problem, estimated to cost about $12,000. But the Archibalds walked away.

"We would have definitely bought the house if we hadn't had the home inspection" says Archibald. "There was no guarantee at all that the house wouldn't shift."

This story has a happy ending. But many don't.

In August, Arlene Stacey, a 47 year old administrative officer with the federal government, bought what she thought was a four year old home in Russell without having it looked over.

"I should have had an inspection to protect myself," Stacey says wistfully. Her electrician later determined the house was seven years old.

Her kitchen is freezing and drafty, thank to a lack of caulking on the doors, and none of her kitchen cupboards or doors is level. There's mold in the insulation system; an electrician is coming to redo the wiring. The shingles on the roof are splitting and shifting. The knobs on the doors don't work properly. There's water running down the walls, and no insulation or heat ducts in the basement. Nail pops are everywhere. And to top it off, the nails are rusty.

"All home inspectors are not equal,"