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Mon, Jul 7th - 5:13AM

Home Inspections and the Ontario Building Code

The Ontario Building Codes are a minimum set of standards that all building must meet when constructed. Although the Ontario Building Code is not designed to be used as a requirement to bring existing buildings up to this standard, not having a knowledge of the code would not allow a person to know what deficiencies existed in a building.

Existing buildings only have to be built to the standard of the existing building code that was in effect at the time of construction. This is known as "Grandfathering" and will apply to most buildings unless they have under gone a "Major Renovation, Change of Use or Occupancy or a Building Permit has been issued that would involve bringing building up to current requirements. Most older buildings would fall under Part 10 or 11 of the Ontario Building Code and not require extensive upgrading, especially if the building was over 5 years old.

Knowledge of the Ontario Building Code is essential when performing Home Inspections. Some home inspectors mask their lack of skills and training by refraining from ever mentioning the Ontario Building Code and this lack of knowledge can lead to missed deficiencies that a trained inspector would pick up. If your house was built to the minimum standards set out by the Building Codes, how could any professional not be trained in their use and application. As a member of the Ontario Building Officials Association I ensure that my knowledge is maintained at the current editions of the Building Code, to do other wise would be unfair to my customers.

Here is copy of the changes published by Ministry of Affairs and Housing

Ontario Households and Businesses Will Save Energy and Money

The changes to the Building Code balance energy efficiency with affordability. Purchasers of houses built to the new energy efficiency standards that become effective at the end of this year will recoup energy cost-savings equivalent to the extra cost of the upgrades within three years.

Ontario businesses also will save energy and money through increased energy-efficiency standards for non-residential buildings.

The Building Code will now require that:

  • Insulation levels of ceilings in houses be increased by 29 per cent
  • Insulation levels of basement walls of houses be increased by 50 per cent
  • Window energy efficiency in houses be increased by 67 per cent
  • All gas and propane-fired furnaces in houses also will need to have a high-efficiency rating.

Over eight years, the Building Code changes will:

  • Save enough electricity to serve 380,000 homes or enough to power the entire City of London
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to 250,000 cars off Ontario’s roads.

Ontario Will Have More Accessible Buildings

The 2006 Building Code will enable Ontarians with disabilities to stay in their own communities.

The new Building Code will make Ontario buildings more accessible to people of all ages and abilities. For example:

  • Public corridors will be built to accommodate modern wheelchairs
  • New tactile signs will make it easier for the visually impaired to navigate through buildings
  • Ten per cent of the units in a new apartment building or hotel will have to include accessible features.

Ontario Leads the Way

Ontario already leads building regulation in Canada in setting minimum energy-efficiency requirements for buildings.

By the end of this year, changes to the Building Code’ energy-efficiency standards will:

  • Increase home energy efficiency over the current code by more than 21 per cent
  • Continue to be the highest energy-efficiency standards in Canada
  • Be 13 per cent higher than have ever existed in Ontario.

The new Building Code standards for wall and ceiling insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and energy efficient windows are significantly higher than previous Ontario standards. The standards for homes with electrical heating have also been raised.

Homes built under permits applied for in 2009 will have to meet even higher standards that:

  • Mandate the construction of near-full-height basement insulation
  • Will see homes 28 per cent more energy efficient than today.

Ontario is the first jurisdiction to mandate EnerGuide 80 levels. This means that homes built in 2012 will have a 35 per cent increase in energy efficiency over today's Building Code.

The changes to the Building Code further Ontario’s leadership in energy efficiency standards for buildings.

Remember!    A "Smart Consumer" is an "Educated Consumer"

Brought to you by the Barrie Home Inspector Alliston Home Inspector Orillia Home Inspector

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Sun, Jul 6th - 4:24PM

Inspecting Century Homes

Inspecting Century Homes


Century homes are a marvel in construction. People are attracted to these beautiful old buildings and they usually do not remain on the market long. Most buyers want the assurance of a qualified home inspector before buying, what could be in some cases, a potential “Money Pit”. Usually just the age of the building is a testimony to the quality of construction, but there are some items that need to be verified prior to committing your hard earned dollars.


Here are some areas of the inspection that might be of interest to potential buyers. These are just a brief overview and by no means an indication of what a complete inspection entails.




The grade of the foundation is extremely important to the condition of framing members and perimeter framing etc. Having a foundation wall that is too low to grade level is just inviting moisture and water to attack your structural framing members and subsequent rotting.


Water penetration of foundations is another cause of deterioration which can be repaired but only after removing water source. This can be caused by improper grading, eave troughs discharging at foundation or sump pumps discharging beside foundation walls.


Crawl Spaces


This is probably one of the singularly most important part of the Century Home Inspection. These homes were built of logs, beams and posts. Most crawl spaces are usually wet or damp, which can adversely affect the condition of the wood supporting the structure. Testing all the support and framing structure in the crawl space will quickly determine the condition of the wood. Finding a small layer of decay on a log beam is no reason for concern but rotted beams or framing members can be a major concern if replacement is required due to limited access to some crawl spaces.




Balloon framing is common on older structures and ensuring that walls are not separating is a major concern when inspecting these stately old structures. Most people have seen the rods and bolts running through brick walls on old downtown buildings, the purpose of this supports is to prevent the walls from expanding outwards which would allow the interior floors to collapse. This type of framing is not permitted anymore, more from a fire safety issue than structural. Balloon framing allowed fire to start in basement and spread up the walls to pop up anywhere above fire, including the attic. There are many recorded instances where a fire department put out a fire in a basement only to be called back hours later because the roof was on fire.




Galvanized plumbing was common in older homes and has a life expectancy of about 50 years. Insurance companies are usually reluctant to insure homes with galvanized plumbing due to the fact that it rusts from the inside and will likely fail prior to any indication of a problem.


Venting on older homes can also be a make shift set up. I have come across vents that have been attached to the exterior of homes and do not continue above roof line. This is against the plumbing code and should be rectified.





The electrical system in older houses may also be an area of concern. For example, some older houses still have only 60 amp service which may not be adequate for modern living, and which may result in home insurance companies refusing to ensure until the service and service panel are upgraded to a minimum of 100 amps. In some homes, evidence of the old knob and tube wiring may exist.

Older home could have electrical issues which include wiring done by home owner or his friends, which may be poorly done and even unsafe. Many times we encounter ungrounded panels, ungrounded distribution wiring, overloaded circuits, oversized breakers (which may not trip and shut the power down in an unsafe situation), unprotected connections and the absence of GFCI receptacles in bathrooms and exterior locations. One real estate listing even described a separate 200 amp panel for a work shop. What they didn’t identify was that the panel was fed directly from the service side of the existing distribution panel. This is totally illegal connection in an electrical panel, contravening the Electrical Code and very unsafe.




Almost all occupied Century homes have had their insulation upgraded in the attic. Added insulation can cover up previously installed insulation, which can range from wood shavings to vermiculite. Vermiculite insulation has a good chance of containing asbestos which can be expensive to have properly removed and disposed of. Usually this will be done by company specializing in asbestos remediation. Most reputable insulation companies would remove the wood shavings before blowing in added insulation. Wood shavings can cause odour and /or insect problems.


Proper ventilation of your century home attic is a major concern now that you have upgraded windows, insulation and HVAC systems. Air, heat and moisture leakage is impossible to stop in your attic and proper ventilation ensures that any moisture will be vented out of your attic. Moisture in your attic is the number one cause of mould and this could possibly affect rooms under your attic.


Rodents and bats can take up residence in your century homes attic. This can lead to costly cleanups which can run over $10,000 in extreme cases. A careful inspection of your attic can identify the presence and degree of infestation involved. I recently inspected a century home that had bats discovered in the attic and after the cleanup all that remained was packets of anti coagulant and a fluorescent light to deter further infestation.


Some century homes have very limited access to attics, which can be built as a cathedral ceiling and leaving little or no access for inspection. In these situations I always advise the client to have a qualified insulation specialist do an basement even going so far as to have an Infrared scan done to determine heat loss.


Rerember “ Caveat Emptor”, Buyer Beware – Protect yourself and your investment – use a Professional Home Inspector and always ask for references and verify experience.


Choose the Barrie Home Inspector for all your inspection needs in Simcoe County and Barrie, Alliston, Orillia area. Professional Home Inspections starting at $199.

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