You are about to become the proud owner of a new home. It’s an exciting time. But before you have the keys handed to you and you move in, there is an essential step to go through: the pre-delivery inspection.

Check everything to make sure you won’t regret anything
Even a brand-new home needs to be inspected! When a new dwelling, be it a condo or single-family home, is covered by a warranty plan, the builder and the buyer are required to jointly conduct an inspection of the finished product. This allows them to note any apparent defects and list any work to be corrected or completed.

The pre-delivery (sometimes called pre-acceptance) inspection is conducted according to a pre-established list of elements to be checked. The items on the list vary according to the type of dwelling unit (e.g., single-family home, condo). It is usually supplied by the building contractor and must be approved by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.*

This inspection is extremely important. If any imperfections are not noted at this time, the buyer has only three days in which to add them to the list of work to be corrected or completed, and must not have moved in to the house or condo yet. After that time has elapsed, apparent defects not officially noted will be excluded from any claim under the warranty. The house will be considered as having been seen and accepted as is.

Get a professional to do the job
As the buyer, when you enter your new home for the inspection, you must obviously contain your excitement and objectively assess whether everything has been built as agreed. But more important, you must also know enough about construction to be able to judge whether the quality of the work is satisfactory.

To be sure you don’t make any mistakes, you can have help for this vital step. Indeed, it is strongly recommended that you do. It’s not enough to look at everything; you have to notice everything! The scope and complexity of the task mean that you should seek out a professional with expertise in building inspection, such as a professional technologist, architect or engineer.

Keep your eyes open
Everything must be gone over with the proverbial fine-tooth comb. For example:

  • Is the air exchanger properly installed?
  • Is the rim joist resting on the foundation sufficiently well insulated?
  • Do all doors and windows operate properly?
  • Have the kitchen cupboards and floor coverings been properly installed?
  • Are all banisters and guardrails compliant with building codes?
  • Has the builder neglected to put in ductwork for an eventual central vacuum?
  • Are the exterior cladding and roofing impeccable?
  • Is all plumbing, electrical and heating equipment code-compliant?
    The checklist is a long one!

Any and all elements that are problematic or unsatisfactory, for whatever reason, must be reported on the form attesting to acceptance of the building. Any difference of opinion or item contested by either party must also be noted in the document. The warranty plan manager will rule on these disputes later.

Ask for a preliminary inspection
Understandably, this exercise must never be conducted in haste or under pressure. Some contractors will even agree to the buyer conducting a preliminary inspection, accompanied by a professional of their choosing, a day or two before the pre-delivery inspection.

Taking the opportunity to do a preliminary inspection is the ideal solution, because you need to be able to take all the time you need to meticulously examine the house. It also gives the inspector all the freedom needed to explain to the buyer the nature of any defects noted and the necessary corrective work. This will help ensure that the “critical” inspection, i.e., the one that must be conducted with the builder present, proceeds more smoothly.

You should therefore not hesitate to discuss preliminary inspection with the building contractor as part of the purchase negotiation process—and even ask that it be stipulated in the contract. The buyer has much to gain by creating winning conditions!

Our thanks to François Dussault, a member of the Ordre des technologues professionnels du Québec; the Association des inspecteurs en bâtiments du Québec; and CAA-Quebec’s network of Approved Residential Suppliers.

*Pre-delivery inspection checklists approved by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec: