Home & Building InspectionsOpenHome & Building Inspections

Buying a Resale Home

The goal of our home inspection is to identify conditions that affect a Buyer's decision to buy or not buy a property, to advise the significance of these conditions and provide recommendations, including priority of repairs and cost estimates.

Our inspection methodology follows the ASHI and OAHI guidelines for identifying the major systems and needed repairs, but Guardian goes the extra step by focusing on the Buyer’s intended use of the property and concerns. Buyers should attend the inspection to discuss their intensions, ask questions and gain the best insight into their planned purchase.

The goal of our report is to provide precise and concise information that needs no explanation, answers our client’s questions and can be understood by a reader who was not present at the inspection. Our reports include prioritized recommendations specific to the property.

Typical inspection time is 2-3 hours plus 3/4-1.5 hours of reporting, depending on the building size and complexity, the issues identified and the client’s concerns.

Selling a Resale Home

Many Sellers arrange a pre-purchase inspection to identify deficiencies and upcoming repairs that typically concern prospective Buyers. A pre-purchase inspection can help a Seller discover and make repairs before listing the property for sale, or disclose the property conditions and avoid renegotiation if a Buyer’s home inspection later identifies deficiencies that were not previously disclosed. The inspection is performed in the same manner as an inspection performed for a Buyer.

Our goal is to provide a precise and concise report, which can be passed on to prospective Buyers and their agents. We are seldom asked for clarification and know that our reports are easy to understand.

Buying a New Home - PDI, 30 Day, First Year-End Inspections

Buyers of new houses expect no repair costs in the first few years. They assume municipal building inspections will catch any significant problems and that the Ontario New Home Warranty Program (TARION) will cover any repair costs. Buyers may not realize that the warranty excludes some of the most common complaints, such as normal shrinkage. (See TARION Performance Guidelines from their web site) Many builders will not repair defects such as foundation cracks until they actually leak. It is clearly to the buyer's advantage to identify all deficiencies as early as possible.

Guardian's new home inspections are focused on identifying visible defects in material and workmanship that may not be apparent to the new owner. Many of these defects relate to failure to meet building codes or standards. Guardian's inspections cannot however confirm compliance to codes and standards, as we were not present during all phases of construction.

In the case of new houses purchased from a plan, Guardian's pre-delivery inspection (PDI) report can also help a Buyer identify incomplete and deficient items just prior to possession, when the Buyer is asked to inspect the new home and sign the Certificate of Completion and Possession. Following possession, the builder can claim that common defects were the result of shrinkage, minor settlement, or the new owner’s damage, which are specifically excluded from the warranty coverage.

An inspection performed before the end of the first 30 days is another opportunity to identify construction related deficiencies. The advantage of this inspection is that the builder cannot restrict the time on site and the new owner has had a chance to live in the house and operate the systems.

The end of the first year of possession is generally the last opportunity to identify construction deficiencies, other than water penetration and mechanical equipment (2 years) and structural adequacy (7 years). Builders are not obligated to repair conditions that are reported after the end of the warranty period. Guardian also performs pre-delivery (PDI) new home inspections for Buyers of Condominium Apartments.

Buyers of completed new homes cannot be assured that the builder will correct deficiencies to the buyer's satisfaction, unless details are specified in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. The deficiencies specified in Guardian's pre-purchase inspection report can help the Buyer provide a list of incomplete and deficient items for completion before the time the buyer assumes possession. Buyers of new houses from builder/owners that do not have TARION coverage may have limited recourse to the builder and should obtain legal advice regarding warranty clauses.

New homebuyers have a unique opportunity during the first year of occupancy to identify drafts, missing insulation and other comfort issues during cold winter conditions. Guardian’s thermography can best document these complaints, but only during similar cold conditions when these conditions would be experienced.

Buying a Renovated Home From a Builder/Renovator

Buyers of recently renovated homes have the impressions that everything looks new and will perform the same as a new home. The first question for the builder/renovator is what building and electrical permits were issued for the work performed. If work was not performed with permits, then there is no assurance that construction meets the minimum legal requirements. We frequently inspect such homes and caution our clients that there is an increased risk of undetected defects and substandard construction. Our inspections cannot provide a substitute for an inspection that should be conducted by an authority having jurisdiction. Buyers should also note that even if work is performed with a building permit, that only the renovated portions must meet the current requirements. Such homes may for example have areas without modern insulation levels, which can result in uneven thermal comfort.

Buying a Condominium Apartment

Condominium Apartment Buyers are purchasing the apartment interior finishes as well as a share in the ongoing maintenance of the building or complex. The state of repair of the building or complex and the pending repair costs are often more significant that the repair costs within the apartment unit, but cannot be addressed by our inspection. Buyers should thus review the status certificate building report and make inquiries with other owners to find out about the pending repairs of the building or complex.

Guardian’s inspections of apartment interiors include all accessible components including the inside portions abutting common elements such as windows, ceilings and walls, but does not include common elements. The time required to inspect a condominium apartment is usually less than a single dwelling house, and our rates are accordingly reduced.

Guardian also performs pre-delivery (PDI) new home inspections for Buyers of Condominium Apartments.

Buying a Multiple Dwelling or Mixed Use Building

Buyers of multiple dwelling buildings should be concerned with mandatory retroactive standards, as well as the same issues as resale homes, as described above. All multiple dwelling properties must meet the Ontario Fire Code requirements for fire separations, exits, and smoke alarms. The specific requirements depend on the number of dwelling units, building size, etc. Guardian's inspections can only identify the general compliance issues, rather than provide a substitute for a certificate of compliance from the Fire Department, since the Fire Code is subject to interpretation by the local Fire Department. Multiple dwelling buildings must also meet rental property standards, which are enforced by the municipality.

Buying a Commercial Property

Commercial properties are subject to similar issues as resale houses. The goal of our commercial inspections is to identify conditions that typically affect a buyer's decision to buy or not buy a property, to advise the significance of these conditions and provide recommendations, including priority of repairs and cost estimates for budgeting. The focus is the Buyer’s intended use and it is important that the Buyer attend the inspection.

Buying a Historic Property

Historic properties typically have a historic designation that limits changes to the exterior façade and other elements.  Inspecting a historic resale property requires a more detailed examination of the façade and exterior property elements as well as consideration of the Buyer’s intensions. Guardian’s experience with historic properties includes several hundred property condition assessments for conservation authorities.

Building Condition Assessments - Institutional

Building owners often require an independent assessment of the current state of repair for budget purposes.  Guardian clients for Building Condition Assessments include private businesses, non-profit organizations, faith communities, conservation authorities and government land trusts. Inspections are customized to meet our client’s specific requirements.

Leak & Failure InvestigationsOpenLeak & Failure Investigations

Buyers and Owners frequently need a second opinion on the causes of a problem and repair options. Our most frequent request is identifying the source of leaks. In many cases, repair contractors will recommend what is best for the contractor rather than the owner. Its always preferable to first determine the source of the problem before starting the repair. Guardian does not benefit by the repair decision and will often suggest a less expensive repair option. Our microbiology, mould remediation, Building Science and Industrial Hygiene training as well as 30 years of field experience and construction supervision have proven invaluable for quickly identifying the potential causes and providing cost effective remedies for a variety of problems.


There are times when the cause of a leak or other problem is not obvious and you don’t know who to call. We have helped clients who performed unnecessary waterproofing when water leaked in from the roof or an indoor pipe and mimicked a basement leak. Each leak situation is unique, but is only solved by conducting a methodical investigation to rule out potential causes. Our building science expertise, evidence based approach and moisture-sensing instruments have helped numerous clients solve their problems.


Please don’t ask us to assure you there is no mould, since there’s always mould in the air, both inside and outside. If significant mould growth is visible there will usually be a related leak problem that needs to be addressed. Our goal is helping resolve the water problem that results in visible mould and evaluating the extent of water damaged finishes. Our IICRC certifications for water restoration and microbial abatement help us assess the situation. We do not test for mould species identification, other than pointing out the presence of visible mould when encountered. There is no reliable test to rule out the presence of hidden mould, and there are no mold testing standards or health guidelines for acceptable indoor levels of indoor mold since mould is ubiquitous. Most mould experts recommend against testing to quantify mould or rule out mould, with a few exceptions. There is however no shortage of individuals willing to test for mould, but few of them sample in a manner that can provide actionable information.

Mould becomes a problem when it grows on interior water damaged finishes that remain wet. Its presence inside buildings is often the result of chronic leaks or deferred maintenance. Occupants may become sensitized to both living mould spores and dead mould residue. The best advice is to get rid of visible mould growth and check for hidden mould growing in adjacent cavities. Small amounts (less than a few square feet) in size can often be removed with regular cleaning. Large amounts should be professionally removed to avoid personal exposure and contamination of other building areas. In our experience, the amount of hidden mould discovered inside water damaged wall cavities is often in the order of ten times what is visible on exposed wall surfaces.

IAQ Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality complaints are usually resolved by evaluating the building and occupant history, and then identifying and eliminating the possible causes. Odours, poor air circulation and occupant comfort are common complaints investigated. Guardian has investigated numerous situations and in most cases has been able to cost effectively improve the situation.


Thermography can be a valuable tool for investigating air leakage and comfort complaints, but only sometimes. Problems will not however be seen unless ideal ambient conditions are present. Thermography can also provide erroneous results without proper analysis. We have the highest-level ASNT Level 3 training and have provided both large and small building thermography services. We rely on thermography as one our many diagnostic tools for investigating specific complaints. It is important to note that thermography requires considerable time and interpretation skills based on building science principles and knowledge of the building assembly. We do not perform thermography as part of our pre-purchase inspections unless pre-arranged. See Understanding Evaporation Article for our original research into the limitations of thermography for moisture investigations.

Expert Reports for
Litigation & DisputesOpen
Expert Reports for Litigation & Disuptes

Guardian has provided numerous expert reports for legal cases involving home inspectors, owners, tenants, contractors and builders. The subject matter of our reports has included standard of care, quality of construction, building regulations, building component failure and indoor air quality. This work is time and detail intensive, generally requiring forensic evaluation and research of standards. The measure of our success is that most cases settle before trial based on our reports, and we spend little time in court and at tribunals.

Courses Development & DeliveryOpenCourse Development & Delivery

Guardian’s experience with course development and delivery includes continuing education courses for the Ontario Real Estate Association Boards, the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors and the Ontario Building Officials Association (under contract with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing). We designed and developed the original curriculum for the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. Current courses available for presentation to real estate boards include: Home Inspection and the Real Estate Transaction, Realtors and Home Inspectors – Same Client, Retroactive Building Standards, and New Construction Issues for Realtors. We have extensive experience designing case studies, suitable for adult learning and have produced courses suitable for in-class and e-learning platforms.