Category Archives: Home Inspections

One Key Reminder About Renovation Inspections

Renovation Inspector Checking Tablet

Image courtesy stockimages /

It’s a well-known part of renovations: inspections. City of Calgary inspectors regularly visit hundreds if not thousands of construction sites within the city each month. The waiting, the compliance orders, the paperwork, the re-scheduling… it can all get a little overwhelming for homeowners, especially in the cases of do-it-yourself jobs. It’s all too easy to overlook how important it is for these inspectors to be diligent about safeguards and guidelines, and gripe about their bossy tone or not-backing-down attitude. But if you’ve ever travelled to countries where building codes are rarely enforced, you are keenly aware of how important it is to respect these inspectors’ jobs.

In many 2nd or 3rd world countries, following modern building codes are often the exception, not the rule. Even higher end tourist destinations are not immune. Staircases that are impossibly tall with a rise way too large for their run. Dangerous balconies with railings that could give at any moment. Aging buildings with beams that aren’t quite strong enough to hold their loads anymore. Sometimes, the wholly unsafe conditions are things tourists laugh at or take pictures of. Other times, they are injured, or worse.

It’s the sort of thing that makes you really, really glad we have modern building codes AND practices in Alberta, and an inspection system that works flawlessly the vast majority of the time. So if you’re preparing for or in the middle of a renovation, also make sure to be prepared for the inspections, compliance orders and yes, even costly delays, that can sometimes accompany them. After all, they are ultimately all there for your safety.

Overwhelmed with a home renovation that has run into issues with City of Calgary building inspections? Give us a call for a quote today – we can help!

-The Jameswood Team

One Fact You Need to Know Before A Home Restoration

Home submerged in flood waters

Photo courtesy Witthaya Phonsawat /

A home restoration company is NOT the same a home renovation company. In fact, the two could not be more different. It’s a common misconception that can be very costly if not fully understood before proceeding with a home restoration… and unfortunately, it’s something we see more often than we would like. Here is a rundown of the main differences between the two:

The Truth About Home Restoration Companies

1-Insurance-appointed restoration companies are only hired to bring a property back to what it was before a damage event occurred, even if what it was before was not ideal. Restoration companies are typically told to re-use any materials that were there previously, if possible, and to avoid making improvements of any kind.

2-Because they are simply restoring what was already there, there is no mandated requirement for home restoration companies to use licensed trades, have inspections or offer any kind of assurance, warranty or guarantee. As you could imagine, this has the potential to lead to all sorts of costly problems.

3-Many restoration companies operate at minimum standards out of a van, and while some are helpful, others aren’t even handy. They work for the insurance company who is paying them, not the property owner, and therefore do not have any stake in the property owner’s satisfaction.

The Advantage of Home Renovation Companies

1-Real home renovators are hired to make improvements to a property—better than it might have been before any damage happened—bring everything up to code, and ensure the end result lasts for years without issue.

2-Home renovation companies are mandated to use licensed contractors and trades, complete stringent inspections by licensed inspectors, and most will offer guarantees on their workmanship. Jameswood Homes has a two-year warranty on workmanship for any work we do; ensuring it’s done to a more-than-acceptable standard.

3-Home renovators work for the homeowner, not just for the insurance company, and therefore work with the homeowner to ensure their satisfaction. They also rely on word-of-mouth referrals for business, not just an insurance company’s contract, so it’s in their best interest to do great work.

You Don’t Have to Settle For A Sub-Standard Home Restoration

Remember, it is ultimately YOUR choice who completes the work on your home after an insurance claim—NOT your insurance agent’s. While your insurance policy might only cover the cost to return your property to what it was before, investing a bit more money to cover the cost of a real home renovator could end up saving you a lot of cash – and frustration—down the line. Call us for a free quote for your next home restoration.

-The Jameswood Team

How A Bad Reno You Don’t Even Know About Can Cost You

With housing markets surging in certain parts of the country, most notably Calgary, many potential homebuyers are choosing renovated homes. But while these homes might look inviting and warm, the reno could be hiding something cold, dark and potentially very harmful to the wallet. Whenever you are considering investing in a home that has had ANY renovations in Calgary, even minor ones, you should double-check a few things first.

Is the Reno a “Lipstick Job”?

This is a term often used in the real estate and home renovation industries to refer to a renovation that was not done thoroughly or correctly (e.g. not properly dealing with older plumbing or electrical, not upgrading insulation, etc.), in an attempt to hide potential hazards or other undesirable things from prospective homebuyers.

Questions to ask:

-Why were the renovations done?
-Was it to fix or hide damage like flooding or fire?
-Are these issues truly fixed or just covered up?
-If they are just covered up, are you prepared to re-do the renovation and ensure it’s done properly?
-What will it cost to fix this renovation if required?

Hiring a professional home inspector is the easiest way to get these answers.

Does the Home Have Proper Permits and Inspections for the Work?

This is a step that is often a dead giveaway for whether a renovation was done correctly or not. It is essential to do if you are considering a home with renovations, but it is nevertheless often overlooked.

Questions to ask:

-Were construction/renovation permits received for the work?
-If so, what was the scope of the work?
-Were the corresponding inspections passed or failed?
-If inspections were failed, what will happen if you buy the home?

Calling the City is the easiest way to find these answers. 

If you are still not sure about whether or not a renovated home in Calgary is worth buying after gathering all the information noted above, call Jameswood Homes for a quote. Then, you can factor in the projected costs of new renovations into the price of the home in order to make your new home safe, beautiful and fully customized to your needs and style.

- The Jameswood Team

Home Inspections – Useful, but not miracle workers

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.

Don James