A home inspection is an extremely useful tool when buying a home. Not only will a good inspector pick up any defects in your potential dream home, but they will also give recommendations, helping you to decide on the best course of action. Without an inspection, your dream home can soon become a nightmare, draining your budget with urgent repairs.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve listed the most common issues that home inspectors come across. Some are more serious than others, and the severity can differ depending on where you’re located.
Water woes come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common issue by far is poor drainage. More often than not, this is a result of inadequate surface grading, resulting in water pooling up around the home rather than flowing away from it, eventually causing problems with the foundation. Homes should be built in a way that prevents water from pooling anywhere near the structure.
More often than not, the fix is relatively simple. It may be caused by blocked or leaking gutters or faulty downspouts, which are easy to repair. However, in more extreme cases, you may need to spend a bit more to ensure water flows away. Plus, if structural damage has already been caused, it’s well worth getting it looked at before you decide to buy, as repair work can be invasive and expensive.
Other common water woes include faulty plumbing, often the result of shoddy repair jobs. Leaky pipes hidden behind walls or under floors can cause huge amounts of damage and cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair, so take note of any issues such as water stains, damp patches or rot. Old or incompatible piping can also be an issue, as well as dripping faucets or slow draining sinks and bathtubs.
Like plumbing problems, electrical issues commonly appear on home inspection reports. Outdated wiring is a typical problem in older homes, with inadequate breakers that cannot handle the load our modern lifestyle demands. Again, dodgy DIY fixes need to be treated seriously, as they can potentially be fatal. Houses built before 1965 may be ungrounded, or worse, have had DIY upgrades that are downright dangerous.
Federal Pacific Electrical (FPE) panels are often found in homes built between 1940 and 1960 and should raise red flags. These are known to cause house fires, and the wiring will almost always go against code, meaning an entire rewiring of the home may be necessary, which can be a very costly upgrade.
Replacing the roof is a cost most homeowners aren’t willing to face until it becomes absolutely necessary and water is pouring through the ceiling! As such, many homeowners tend to ignore the roof and hope for the best, neglecting even simple, inexpensive fixes such as replacing broken shingles. Fortunately, home inspectors often check the roof internally via the attic, and externally by ‘walking it’.
This allows them to discover current or old leaks by checking the decking for stains, and it also enables them to discover other major issues, such as missing sections of shingles or flashing. Minor issues are almost guaranteed, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but leaks and patches of missing shingles should be taken very seriously. If the roof is in need of replacing, it’s well worth ensuring the seller will take on the responsibility before you agree to buy.
Heating and air conditioning units will often appear on your home inspection report. Typical issues include blocked chimneys, unsafe exhaust flues, broken controls, and cracked heat exchangers. Not only does this result in an inefficient, thus more costly system, but such issues can also endanger your health.
If the HVAC system is noted on your report, it’s important to ensure any dangerous issues are rectified before you move in. It’s also worth budgeting for a newer model, which can be far more efficient, saving you money over time, despite the initial cost.
Problems with the foundations can be extremely expensive to repair, and often difficult to detect with certainty. Different parts of the country use different systems for laying foundations, due to different soil types and conditions, so it’s worth checking with your inspector in advance about the foundations in your desired home.
Concrete slab foundations are fairly common throughout the states, and an experienced inspector should be able to read the signs that point to a fragile foundation. They may note things such as sloping floors, sticking doors and windows, and large sections of brick and mortar separating. If you’re concerned about the foundations, it’s well worth hiring a registered structural engineer to take a look before purchasing.