Recently I accompanied a client on their new condo pre-delivery inspection (PDI) in North Vancouver. The client was a single person who did not feel comfortable walking through the PDI with only the developer’s representative. Fortunately the client had done an online search and realized their limitations, which were:
- First -time buyer and non-technical background
- Understood that the PDI is important and should be done but did not know how
- Did not trust themselves to do a thorough condition assessment, even with a checklist
Developers strive to deliver a product that complies with the contractual terms. Developers' agents are trained to move the PDI inspection along and make it happen. Remember the agent is not on your side. They are paid, trained and motivated by the Developer. It’s just human nature that if there is a questionable item, the agent will favour the Developer.
Here’s what a buyer needs to do to have a fair advantage in the PDI inspection with the Developer’s agent:
- Prepare in advance, ask the developer for a copy of the PDI checklist. Read and understand the document.
- Prepare in advance, read that contract you signed a year ago to know what is included in the condo. Pay special attention to any clause related to ‘Substitutions’ because there will likely be some.
- Before you start, boldly draw a vertical line on the right hand side of the checklist and title it ‘Completion Date’. Most checklists do not include a timeframe. Correct this omission because you are wise.
- Before you start, mentally brace yourself to not dwell on the cosmetic issues as these are readily fixed. Inexperienced buyers tend to focus on the cosmetics and miss the bigger issues.
- At the start of the PDI be sure to have your copy of the checklist. Enter every item into your copy of the checklist. Do not default this recording task to the developer’s agent.
- Operate every device and appliance that turns on, moves, or is powered. Include every switch and controller in the inspection. Note any items that is not working correctly. Note the timeframe for completion.
- Inspect all interior and exterior finishes. Note what is missing, incomplete or damaged. Note the timeframe for completion.
- Ask the agent to show you all the warranty, maintenance and operating manuals. Are they all there?
- Ask the agent to show you all the common areas including the locker room, bike room, pool, fitness area, assigned parking, FOBs etc. As an inspector, I also ask to see the meter room, mechanical room and roof. A tour of the common areas and mechanical rooms tends to reveal a great deal about the development's overall move-in readiness.
- Finally make a list of all the items that could not be inspected because they were not accessible or obstructed.
- At the end of the inspection, ask the agent to read and agree to your handwritten list, not theirs, make a copy, and the two of you sign both documents.
A thorough PDI inspection should take about two hours. Certainly the PDI can be self-performed. However if in doubt, as was my North Vancouver client, then make use of the services of a professional home inspector.