Home inspections are a useful tool for your purchasing arsenal and one way to get a feel for what kind of remedial work may be required if you decide to undertake a home renovation project. It is good to know what can be wrong or right about a property and an inspection is less and less an option should you be mortgaging the property through a larger financial institution.
The profession is licensed by the Province of Alberta and is dependent on proof of certification/courses, etc. The problem with home inspections is that they are non-invasive. This is extremely limiting in what can be actually be done for an inspection. You cannot go around cutting holes in walls to see what is really going on with that stain in the drywall or other visual observations that can make one question the root cause and net effect of what they are seeing.
You can remove electrical plugs and switch covers, check for continuity in circuits, and assess the state and type of wiring. You can remove floor vents and fan covers, and open doors and drawers and the like, but you cannot go much deeper than that. You can use infrared cameras to detect cold spots and heat loss, or you can use moisture meters to detect excessive moisture, but you cannot be “invasive” and leave holes everywhere to confirm certain problems that you think may be lurking below the surface of a home.
This leads to very limited inspections as well as disclaimers and false or limited information. “To the best of my knowledge…” and so on will be what the home owner hears. You cannot fully understand what may be causing problems until you become invasive and see what is really going on. This means money being spent, quotes given, and home renovation work undertaken, all with mostly limited knowledge and a best guess scenario. If you have bought a home and then start undertaking remedial work, it can become very expensive very quickly, especially when you are working off of limited information from a non-invasive home inspection that can usually only verify the tip of the iceberg. Take inspection reports with a grain of salt and in the end it is always caveat emptor buyer beware. Unless you are on a home renovation TV show, you will be the one paying the bill.