Tests to be Carried Out Before a Property Purchase

Before buying a property, it is a wise move to have it inspected. The purpose of this inspection by a qualified building inspector is to give you an impartial evaluation of the condition of the building you are interested in. As a matter of fact, its role is to help you make an informed decision based on real facts.


The building inspector conducts a thorough investigation in order to identify signs of defects or weaknesses such as water infiltration in the roof or in the foundation walls. There may also be signs of joist damage, which indicates a weakness in the structure of the building. Additionally, the inspector should look for signs that may indicate the presence of mold or asbestos, as these may affect human health.

Here are some tests to carry out to reassure you before you make your final offer to buy:


Beyond a visual inspection, you can request a thermography inspection, a technique that can detect problems which are not visible to the naked eye such as inadequate insulation or water infiltration behind walls and bulkheads. This infrared technology produces a thermal image of the structure and materials of the building. This non-destructive technique lends itself particularly to the discovery of zones of heat loss which indicate a lack of adequate insulation.

Mold detection

If the inspector has detected signs of excess moisture and suspects the presence of mold, you can opt for a mold detection service. A building contaminated with mold increases the risk of developing allergies and respiratory diseases. In addition, the presence of mold can accelerate the deterioration of building materials, which reduces its safety and longevity. A specialist in mold detection will be able to make recommendations to you as a result of an analysis of air quality tests and samples.

Asbestos detection

Although the use of asbestos in building materials has declined sharply for more than 30 years, there is still the possibility that a house built before 1980 may contain asbestos. Historically, asbestos was used in a variety of building materials in Quebec and Canada:

  • floor and ceiling tiles;
  • roof shingles,
  • exterior siding;
  • insulation around boilers, pipes and ducts.

It is also possible for vermiculite isolation in the attic to be contaminated with asbestos. If in doubt, an assessment by asbestos specialists will give you a clear idea of the level of risk involved and the right remediation solutions.

Phase 1 Environmental Assessment

A Phase 1 Environmental Assessment is often required by a financial institution when applying for financing. This assessment involves a visual inspection of the property’s site and a review of the site’s history by searching through the city’s documents and plans. The purpose of Phase 1 of the environmental assessment is to identify sources of contamination that may have affected the site, whether these sources are current or past, potential or proven. This evaluation, carried out by specialists, takes into account the activities on the properties in the vicinity of the site as well.

Overall, these pre-purchase tests are useful in order to provide a real picture of the property you are considering acquiring. By doing so as needed, you demonstrate that you have discharged your due diligence responsibility.

You always have to know what you are getting into.

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