What to Look For During a Property Inspection


With my extensive background in home inspections, I wanted to put together a tool that will help you evaluate the condition of a property and its bones so you have the best understanding of what you may be purchasing.
In this video I explain why we made this for you and how it can help you understand the property inspection process.
This tool is in no way a replacement for a good qualified and licensed inspector but is meant to compliment them and help you understand what to look for on that next income property.
I hope you make good use of this information, and we can’t wait to hear about how you’ve used it and how it’s helped you in the inspection process.

Observations When Purchasing an Income Property:
Asbestos is often found in houses of the 1950s and 1960s era in pipe and duct insulation on heating systems, in sealers on heating boilers, in roofing products, siding, stucco, plaster, drywall compound, paneling, ceiling tiles, floor tiles and sheet goods, wall and attic insulation and in asbestos-cement pipe.
Vermiculite insulation was a popular material in the 1950’s, and continued with the energy crisis into the late 1970’s.
The majority of the vermiculite used worldwide was from a mine in Libby, Montana, owned and operated since 1963 by W.R. Grace. The mine was closed in 1990. As well as being rich in vermiculite, this mine had the misfortune of having a deposit of tremolite, a type of asbestos. When the vermiculite was extracted, some tremolite came in with the mix. Asbestos minerals tend to separate into microscopic particles that become airborne and are easily inhaled. People exposed to asbestos in the workplace have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer.


  • Common Electrical Issues:
  • Improper wire terminations
  • Buried wiring
  • Ungrounded receptacles
  • Missing clamps
  • Extension cords used for permanent wiring
  • Double tapping
  • Improper wired receptacles
  • Non Functional GFCI or AFCI
  • Improper wired sub panels
  • Improper junction boxes
  • Under serviced homes. 50 – 60 AMP Service
  • Improperly installed service entrance
  • Aluminum Wiring
  • Knob & Tube Wiring

Purchasers or owners of homes built from the mid 1960’s until the late 1970’s with aluminum wiring are finding that many insurers will not provide or renew insurance coverage on such properties unless the wiring is inspected and repaired or replaced as necessary. This work must be inspected by ESA and a copy of the certificate of inspection is provided to the insurer. In some cases the insurer may require replacement of the aluminum wiring with copper wiring. Check with your insurance company for their requirements.
Knob and tube wiring, was a wiring method used in the early 1900s to 1940s in the residential sector. Over the years wiring installation practices have changed in the residential sector and knob and tube wiring is no longer installed; however, parts continue to be available for maintenance purposes.
Have a licensed electrical contractor check the “knob and tube” conductors in your existing installations for signs of deterioration and damage; or request a general inspection from ESA. The General Inspection report will identify visible electrical safety concerns in your electrical wiring.
“Knob & tube” conductors should be replaced where exposed conductors show evidence of mechanical abuse and or deterioration, poor connections, overheating, alterations that result in overloading, or if changes to wiring contravene any section of the Electrical Safety Code.
Homes with knob and tube wiring may not have the electrical capacity to meet today’s needs. As a result, homeowners may have modified their electrical system with unsafe practices. In some cases the insurer may require replacement of the knob & tube wiring with copper wiring.
Your home probably contains lead-based paint if it was built before 1960. If built between 1960 and 1990, the exterior may contain lead-based paint but the paint on interior surfaces should either contain small amounts of lead or be virtually lead-free. Sometimes leaving lead-based paint alone is safer than removing it, as long as it is not chipping or within the reach of children. Covering the lead-paint area with wallpaper, wallboard or paneling provides extra security.
However, lead-based paint in the home is a serious health hazard when it’s chipping, flaking or within reach of children who may chew on it. In this case, remove the paint following very specific guidelines.
Nearly all homes built prior to the 1980s still have lead solder connecting copper pipes. In households that have or once had a lead service line, galvanized plumbing can release lead in tap water. This is the result of a lead service line releasing lead over many years and accumulating on the corroded inside surfaces of household galvanized pipes. Lead release from galvanized pipes can vary from home to home. Galvanized pipes are old, iron pipes that were installed in many homes built before the 1960s. Over many years, corrosion scales build up inside the walls of galvanized pipes. These pipes can cause discoloured water and pressure issues.
Galvanized pipes can also release lead in water if you have, or ever had, a lead service pipe. When lead is released from a lead service pipe and passes through galvanized plumbing (particularly over decades of use), lead can accumulate on the inside corroded walls of this plumbing. Lead release from galvanized pipes can vary from home to home and can continue to occur even after a lead service pipe is replaced.
Cast iron drain pipes: When examining cast iron piping, you’ll typically find two different signs of failure. One is a crack visible on the outside, usually forming on top of the pipe or at a seam, created by the form used during the casting process. The other external indication of failing cast iron pipes are blobs of rust, usually found on the underside of horizontal sections. The size of these blobs can be anything from little pimples to about the size of half a golf ball.
Clay drainage pipes: The average life span of a sewer line is 40-60 years. It is very common for old clay sewer pipes to crack or separate after many years of usage. Tree roots can be a common cause of clogged and damaged drains. It is recommended to have all the drains scoped by a licensed plumber during due diligence.
Kitec plumbing consists of flexible aluminum pipe between an inner and outer layer of plastic pipe (PEX pipe) with brass fittings. Kitec was sold between 1995 and 2007 for potable water, in-floor, and hot-water baseboard heating systems. The sizing of the pipe requires fittings from its own manufacturer, IPEX, and these fittings were made with a high zinc content that caused dezinctifying. This in turn could either restrict water pressure or cause the fittings to fail completely, causing flooding and water damage to homes. The pipe is typically marked with one of the following brand names; Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plumber Ameliorate.
If fittings are visible, look for Kitec or KTC stamped on them. The terms CSA B137.9/10 or ATSM F1974 could also indicate a Kitec system. During your due diligence period consult with your insurance company and licensed plumber.
Beams & Joists in homes can quite often be modified by home owners during renovations. It is not uncommon to see the structural integrity of a building system compromised by renovations.

Fire Damage can be one of the hardest defects to find because it is most often hidden.


Stone Foundations can be the worst leaking type of foundation next to block walls. This is because they are old and in most cases do not have a proper drainage system installed along the outer perimeter (weeping tile). Without a drainage system in place the water has a tendency to sit against the wall for a longer period of time allowing it to break down the mortar that holds everything in plac


Block Foundations can typically leak through the mortar joints from cracks.
Efflorescence is a crystalline deposit on surfaces of masonry, stucco or concrete. It is whitish in appearance and is sometimes mistaken for mold. This can be a sign of water seepage.


Reading Foundation Cracks – As concrete cures, it shrinks slightly. Where the concrete can’t shrink evenly, it tends to crack. Concrete and block foundations usually have at least a few cracks. The trick is recognizing which are insignificant and which are serious. Here’s a list from least to most serious:


    • Hairline cracks in the mortar between concrete blocks are rarely worth worrying about.


    • Cracks at an L-shape section, such as where a foundation steps down to follow a hillside, are probably shrinkage cracks, especially if they meander and taper down to a hairline. These aren’t a structural issue, though you might need to plug them to keep the basement or crawl space dry.


    • Stair-step cracks in masonry joints are a bigger concern, especially if the wall is bulging or the crack is wider than ¼ inch. A plugged gutter or other moisture problem outside is probably exerting pressure on that part of the wall.


    • Horizontal cracks are most serious. It may be that water-saturated soil froze and expanded, pushing in and breaking the foundation. Or, you may have soil that expands when damp and shrinks when dry. The bad news: You probably need a whole new foundation.


During your due diligence period consult with a specialist about any structural concerns observed.
Things to consider when it comes to a property’s roof are:
The Structure Itself – Has it been damaged in any way?
The Sheathing – Is it plywood, OSB chipboard or wood planks and what condition are they in? What you can’t see from the attic is the edge of the sheathing. This area is the most susceptible to damage due to ice & snow buildup in the winter.
Gutters and Downspouts – Proper installation and operation are critical to reduce water infiltration.
Chimneys – Check for proper sealed flashing at roof line.
The average life expectancy of furnaces in homes today is between 16 and 20 years if properly maintained. The most common types installed are electric forced air, older natural draft gas, mid efficiency gas and high efficiency gas.
The average lifespan of a central air conditioner in homes today is between 15 to 20 years if properly maintained. Note that AC units cannot be inspected properly during cold temperatures.
Water Heaters

The average life expectancy of a water heater in homes today is 15 years. Sediment build up in the tank can make them inefficient and replacement is recommended before failure.


The most common types installed are electric, natural draft gas, power vented gas, and
on-demand gas.


Wood Burning Appliances


It is always recommended that all wood burning appliances be SITE basic inspected by a certified WETT inspector.


Wood destroying organisms such as termites and carpenter ants can be very destructive. These can be prevalent in certain municipalities.


When mold is suspected it is recommended to always consult a mitigation specialist in that field. Mold spores are everywhere around us. These spores become a problem in the home when the following conditions are met:


  • Optimal growth temperature
  • Material to grow on
  • Mold spores and moisture


Moisture is usually the most preventable cause.


Where does the moisture come from?
  • High humidity and condensation
  • Plumbing water leaks
  • Leaking roof, attic, or building envelope system
  • Flooding
  • Foundation leaks
  • Poor ventilation


Check out a Transcript of the video below:
Hello Keyspire community. I’m Success Coach John Brook. Earlier this year, the team and I developed a powerful tool for you to use when completing a tenant walkthrough on an income property. Well, we’ve built another tool for your arsenal. Observations when purchasing an income property. We always encourage you as an investor to leverage your team of realtors and property inspectors.
With my past extensive background in home inspections, I wanted to put together this document that will help you evaluate a properties condition and its bones so you have the best understanding of what you may be purchasing. You know, a home is made up of key systems that include the structure, roof covering electrical, plumbing, hvac, and there are always a potential for hazardous materials being present.
You know, this tool is in no way. To replace a good qualified and licensed inspector, but is meant to compliment them and help you understand what to look for on that next income property. So I hope you make good use of this document. And remember, we can’t wait to hear what your next success story is.


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John Brook

Keyspire Success Coach, John, has been a real estate investor for over 30 years and is also a Certified Home and WETT Inspector. At Keyspire, John is known as the resident Private Lending expert and is a 'Lifestyle Freedom Day' trainer.

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