Mike Holmes, inspector and HGTV Host of Holmes on Homes, “clears the air” on why you should get a condo inspection.

Mediaplanet: Many people seem to think that you don’t need an inspection for your individual condo unit since the building has passed a general inspection. Is this true?

Mike Holmes: Yes, that's the general assumption. However, you absolutely should get one. Why? Because, you need to understand and protect your investment plus it provides added legal, financial, and emotional security. And yes, the building has been inspected and passed by a municipal inspector, but they only look for code compliance and things get missed. Whether it’s a new condo or a condo that's 15 years or older, get an inspection. And finally, make sure your home inspector is certified, has years of experience, and has done inspections in condominiums before.

MP: How do inspections differ in a condo versus a house?

MH: The main difference between a condo inspection versus a home inspection is that a condo inspection doesn't address any exterior elements or common areas, like the roof or elevator. It doesn’t cover anything that falls under the condo corporation.

However, your realtor should help you determine if there has been a technical audit of the building, or if there have been any major structural repairs, pending or ongoing litigations. Remember, once you become a condo owner, you are liable for repairs!

MP: Does the air quality differ in a small space, such as a condo, from a larger space like a house?

MH: Yes. Every condo unit should be properly sealed, however there are many different factors that can affect the individual units. Fumes and smoke from cooking, air fresheners, perfumes, and other pollutants can build up quickly in your condo and affect the air quality, so keeping good air-flow in your condo is very important.

Most condos now have independent mechanics, so keep up with regular maintenance of your HVAC systems (clean and/or replace your filters every 3-6 months) and make sure you use your range hood when cooking.

MP: What are the most common mould growth or air quality issues in condos?

MH: If it’s a new condo, you should be less likely to have to deal with mould, however there's a strong possibility that the air quality could be affected by other factors like carpets, paints, and varnishes. Many products and materials still used today have high VOCs (volatile organic compounds) including formaldehyde and can affect people with sensitivities.

If you're buying an older condo, there’s more of a chance to encounter mould, for example from a broken water pipe, which would create moisture and cause mould growth.

If you're really concerned about the air quality in your condo, I would highly recommend getting an indoor air quality test and a thermal imaging and energy audit in your home inspection. These additional tests will provide you with a thorough and comprehensive documentation of your condo and ultimately peace of mind.