Spotlight on 6 Hidden Defects That May Sneak Up on You

Spotlight on 6 Hidden Defects That May Sneak Up on You

Any real estate agent worth their salt will tell you: the inspection is all-important! Despite this, buyers may find themselves dealing with hidden defects years after their real estate purchase.

Hidden defects are aspects of the property not stated in the Declarations by the seller and which negatively impact the buyer. What nasty surprises typically await new homeowners? Here are the 6 most frequent hidden defects.

Water Infiltration

A leaky faucet does not meet the definition of a hidden defect as the buyer would not have backed out of the transaction had they been aware of the fact. This is not a major concern preventing the occupants from using the residence as they normally would.

By contrast, if there is—or has been—an undeclared water infiltration issue, it might constitute a hidden defect. Water can seep in from the roof, foundation, or a faulty drain. The consequences can be both disastrous and expensive. Moreover, if the foundation is affected below ground level, the issue is undetectable until it leads to very serious problems.

In any case, water infiltration can cause extensive damage and quite a few headaches!


The source of this issue is sometimes caused by an unresolved water infiltration problem. Uncontrolled indoor air humidity levels over a long period may likewise contribute to the spread of mould.

Dishonest real estate owners can use all kinds of tricks to conceal the presence of mould. For example, by applying thick layers of paint or by covering it with drywall, making it difficult to detect with the naked eye when viewing a property for sale.

Not to mention that mould can lead to serious health problems, usually affecting the respiratory system. These are often more severe in children, the elderly, and people who are already in poorer health.  

Dangerous Electric Wiring

A substandard electric box is easy to identify, especially by a qualified building inspector; however, disguising a deficient electrical system is not hard. For example, if an uncertified person has played around with the wiring, their modifications are probably not up to code, unsafe, and invisible (unless you open up the walls).

Needless to say, no one likes to contemplate the risk of an electrical fire, nor the high cost of having the residence properly rewired!

Rot in the Attic

A water leak or poor air circulation can seriously damage the attic and event cause rot. The entire roof structure may need to be replaced. Typically, too much insulation is the culprit.

A qualified building inspector can detect this issue and inform potential buyers of the fact so they can decide whether they still want to acquire the property. This can also be used to negotiate a lower price.

Weakened Structure

To ensure they are carried out according to building code standards, many types of renovations require a permit. And for good reason! Structural modifications can have grave consequences. Take for example removing a load-bearing wall to create an open-concept space. If the previous owner has demolished it out without replacing it (like with a beam), the entire house structure may collapse.

Carpenter Ant Invasion

These insects love wooden structures: they build their nest in them. The ants are relentless chewers and can seriously damage a home’s framework. And the roof and window frames are no exception. Because they prefer damp wood, these small critters’ presence may also indicate a moisture or rot problem. In short, this is never a good sign!

Everything related to the property must be stated in the Declarations by the seller at the time of sale. Otherwise, the buyer may be able to pursue legal action. In any case, don’t forget to have the property inspected before you sign on the dotted line.

You should also know that at RE/MAX, the Intégri-T program protects the buyer and seller in case of hidden defects. For more details, visit the RE/MAX Quebec website or contact your RE/MAX broker.

RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

A leader in the real estate industry since 1982, the RE/MAX network brings together the most efficient brokers.