Home Inspections: Top 10 Problems

All homebuyers have a difference of opinion when it comes to what they envision as their ideal home, but one thing that unites each prospective homebuyer is the urge to find a home that is essentially sound, specifically in expanses beyond the immediate extent of the eye which will provide a safe and comfortable environment for them as well as their families.

This is why the home inspection is so important. At least 30 areas of the home are placed under the home inspector’s “microscope” during a home inspection. Below you’ll find a list of the ten most common flaws uncovered in a typical home inspection. If not properly addressed, these issues can become worse over time and be even more costly in the long run. So, knowing what to look for and performing your own detailed pre-inspection will help you to recognize areas which need repair or improvement before they grow into costly problems.

1. Damp Basement:

Mildew odor is often the first indication of dampness in the basement.  The smell of it is impossible to mask, so if the mildew odor is present, the inspector will be able to detect it.  The inspector will also examine the walls and check for any signs of whitish mineral deposit just above the floor, noting whether you feel confident enough storing items on the floor.

Repairs can range between $200- $15,000 or more.  Ultimately, this cost can influence the calculation of your home’s value.  Therefore, you want to make sure you enlist the help of an expert to guarantee you have a secure grip on the bottom line prior to moving forward with the sale of your home.

2. Poorly Installed/Defective Plumbing:

Plumbing defects are very common in older homes.  An inspector will be able to determine whether your home’s plumbing is subject to leaking or clogging.  Signs of leakage can be visibly detected.  To test the water pressure, the inspector will turn on all the faucets in the highest bathroom and then flush the toilet.  An audible sound of water may indicate the home’s pipes are too narrow.  The inspector will also check for signs of water discoloration.  Discoloring in the water is usually an indication that pipes are rusted, and this water quality issue should be dealt with immediately.

3. Older/Poorly Functioning Heating and Cooling Systems:

Older Heating/cooling systems or ones that haven’t been properly maintained can pose serious safety and health problems.  An inspector will determine the age of your furnace; if over the average life span of 15-20 years, the inspector will generally suggest you replace it.

If your heating system is a forced air gas system, the inspector will examine the heat exchanger very closely.  These heat exchangers are irreparable and if found defective, they must be replaced as any cracks can result in the leak of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.  The initial cost to replace these components may be rather expensive, but a new system will generate heightened efficiency, and will benefit your long-term investment by substantially reducing monthly heating/cooling costs.

4. Older/ Unsafe Electrical System:

It’s common to find undersized services, aluminum wiring, knob and tub wiring or insufficient/badly renovated distribution systems in older homes. When an electrical circuit is over fused, it creates a fire hazard as more amperage is drawn on the circuit than what it was intended to bear.

Typically, you’ll find a 15-amp circuit in a home with increase service for larger appliances like stoves or dryers.  You can expect a cost of several hundred dollars when replacing your fuse panel with a circuit panel.

5. Older/ Leaking Roof:

Generally, an asphalt roof will last an average of 15 to 20 years.  Leaks through the roof could indicate mechanical damage caused by any number of factors, such as a heavy storm or could be a sign of physical deterioration of the asphalt shingles caused by aging. If you determine your roof needs new shingles, you’ll need to know how many layers are beneath in order to decide whether the roof must be completely stripped prior to installing the new shingles.

6. Minor Structural Problems:

Structural problems can range from cracked plaster to small shifts in the foundation and are common in older homes.  This variety of problem isn’t necessarily sizeable enough to cause any real disaster but should be taken care of before growing into something catastrophic.

7. Poor Ventilation:

Unvented bathrooms and cooking areas can become breeding grounds for mold and fungus.  This can lead to air quality issues throughout the home and trigger allergic reactions.  Additionally, mold may cause damage to plaster and window frames.  These issues should be identified and dealt with promptly before any permanent damage is caused.

8. Air Leakage:

A cold, drafty home can be the result of any number of problems, such as aged caulking, ill- fitting doors, low-quality weather strips or poor attic seals.  Fortunately, this nature of repair is usually inexpensive and can be taken care of easily.

9. Security Features:

An inspector will observe the standard security features which protect your home such as the types of locks on the doors, windows and the smoke or carbon monoxide detectors and where they’re located throughout the home.  If your home is lacking in any of these areas, you should check with an expert to determine what costs to expect.

10. Drainage/ Grading Problems:

This is perhaps one of the most prevalent problems found by home inspectors and is a widespread catalyst of damp and mildewed basements. Some solutions to this problem may include the installation of new gutters and downspouts to re-grading the lawn and surrounding property so water can be directed away from the home.