8 Common Home Inspection Problem Areas
Monday, July 9, 2012
You found the perfect home, you’ve signed all the papers, and now all that’s left is to wait for the results of the inspection. This can be the most nerve-racking part of the process, especially if you’re buying an older home. Many serious damages are hidden to the untrained eye, and the shortcomings your inspector uncovers could unravel the whole deal for you. While it’s perfectly normal to get your hopes up, keep your expectations realistic and know there are often problems found with the following aspects of the home. Having a good idea of what could go wrong will prepare you for the worst even as you hope for the best.
If you have a problem with your surface grading and drainage, there’s a chance that you could end up with many other problems if you don’t have them already. Poor drainage can cause cracks in your foundation and leaks in your basement and crawlspaces, not to mention the resulting rot and mold that often come into play. Inspectors may suggest redoing your surface grading or installing a new downspout system to keep water away from the house. Structural damage from water may be harder to address.
With advances in technology and all of us consuming our fair share of electricity, homes built more than 40 or 50 years ago will likely have some kind of electrical problem. The home’s service might need to be upgraded to meet current needs or the wiring might be aluminum, which is a fire hazard if it hasn’t been retrofitted with the right wire nut at each connection. Other potential problems include rust in the electric service panel, burned wiring, and too many circuits in the panel. No matter the problem cited, you’ll want to get it taken care of immediately because you don’t want to be without power or, worse, start a fire.
The most basic reason to buy a house is to make sure you have a roof over your head, so this is a critical area to check out. Roof repairs can be expensive depending on the extent of the damage, so it’s essential you get the scoop on what’s going on up there, even if it ends up being bad news. Inspectors look for missing or broken shingles, damaged flashing, and any signs of rot. Much like poor drainage, a bad roof can result in water damage, which comes with a whole host of problems.
If you’ve ever had a clogged toilet, you know how horrible it is when your plumbing’s not working right. The plumbing system makes sure you have clean water to drink and that your waste is being disposed of properly, two major factors for comfortable living. Even if a plumbing problem causes you to walk away from a house, it’s much better to have an inspector warn you so it didn’t become your disgusting and expensive problem. The inspector will probably check the water meter, vents, traps, fixtures, and pipes for any issues.
Though problems vary based on the type of heating system you have, the heating system is a common problem area for potential home owners. Issues here can be both expensive and dangerous, considering the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Some problems may have easy fixes, like changing the air filter or small parts of the system, but if the heater or furnace is more than 10 or 20 years old or has been poorly maintained, you might be facing a complete replacement.
You may not think the attic is a very important part of the home, but for inspectors, it can reveal some problems with insulation and ventilation. A common problem with insulation is simply that there’s not enough or it’s inconsistent, which can be fixed by having a professional add more. In older homes, though, an inspector might find asbestos, which needs to be removed. Improper ventilation can cause condensation in the attic that can lead to mildew and rot over time.
If there’s one thing you can’t fix cheaply after you’ve bought a house, it’s foundation problems. They can lead to serious structural problems in your home and fixing them will be a major job that can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars. Cracked or bowing walls or cracks originating by doors or windows can be tell-tale signs of a foundation problem. If an inspector tells you that the house has serious foundation issues and you buy it anyway, you’ll end up throwing your money into the sinkhole you’re going to have to fix.
The old owner may be moving out, but that doesn’t mean all the residents of the home will be leaving. If you’re committing to a home purchase, you definitely need to know what kind of roommates you’ll be getting. Because there are many different kinds of pests, this can be a common problem area for your home inspection. Inspectors will look for termites, carpenter ants, and other insects that eat wood and can cause serious structural damage. They also keep an eye out for signs of creepy-crawly things you won’t want to run into, like cockroaches and rats.
8 Common Home Inspection Problem Areas - Know What to Look For. Having sold real estate for over 23 years and having been a part of close to 1,000 home inspections I always advise my clients to have very thorough inspections for the entire property and it's systems. An informed and educated buyer has a better chance of not having any surprises once they purchase a home.