Buying or Selling a home in the near future? Let’s discuss some items that are common for inspectors to find. Cosmetic flaws and minor repairs, like settling cracks in drywall or a broken windowpane, might come up in an inspection report. However, these small items will rarely cause a deal to unravel. The more costly repairs and often hidden problems are what can cause a buyer to back out or request money off the contract price. So here are 10 common issues home inspectors look for:
1. Worn Down Roofing
Asphalt shingle roofs typically last 15 to 20 years. If yours is nearing the end of its life, don’t be surprised to see it come up in the inspection report. Inspectors will call out granule loss, brittle, curled, or broken shingles, and any loose flashing or leaky spots.
According to some local Victoria Texas roofers, a new asphalt shingle roof for a typical 2,000 sq. ft. single-story ranch house can range in price from $7,500 to $12,000 fully installed. For context, the average size house in the United States is around 2,000 square feet.
How to fix:
Replace damaged shingles and flashing, and re-caulk areas where ventilation pipes penetrate the roof or replace vent flashing/boots. If you’re not handy, consider hiring a contractor or roofing company to assist.
2. Drainage Issues
Surface grading around a home can cause serious drainage issues and foundation damage. Improper grading can lead to flooded crawlspaces, causing mildew and other problems. It can also create spongy soil that causes concrete slab foundations to shift. Broken downspouts and gutters full of leaves/debris are common issues that can easily be fixed, but may cause damage if not repaired.
How to fix:
Add topsoil to grade the ground and create a slope around the home. For every ten feet you move away from the home, the ground should slope down six inches. You should also repair or add gutters and downspouts to direct rainwater away from the foundation. However, keep in mind that slab foundations need to be visible under the siding. Typically 4-6” of slab visibility is needed to keep an eye out for cracks forming, and for subterranean termites.
3. Foundation Issues
Foundation problems can be one of the most costly issues to fix. In some serious cases, up to $25,000. Concrete slab foundations are the most costly to repair, and pier/beam homes being quite a bit cheaper. This is because there is generally no excavation with repairing pier/beam homes. Signs of foundation issues include doors and windows that stick, diagonal cracks in walls above doorways, sloping floors, and L-shaped or horizontal cracks in the visible parts of the exterior foundation.
Something to consider: In the Golden Crescent Region of Texas, we have ‘expansive soils’ such as clay and sandy loam. This soil moves with the moisture or drought conditions we get here. It’s not uncommon for houses to have minor hairline foundation cracks as well as wall cracks.
How to fix:
If you know your home has serious foundation issues, it might be best to take care of them before you sell the house, as few buyers will want to deal with the hassle of fixing a foundation.
This is best left to professionals, but as far as minor foundation repairs go, fill any cracks with mortar, not caulking! Adjust doors and windows to make sure they all open and close without sticking.
4. Plumbing Problems
Damaged pipes, malfunctioning or improperly installed water heaters, and backed-up sewage systems can be costly to fix and common things that come up in a home inspection. Some types of plumbing pipes found in older homes, such as those made from galvanized piping have been discontinued and are prone to failure. Home inspectors will report these potentially problematic plumbing materials. Loose or non-working faucets, loose toilets, spray heads that are clogged with mineral deposits, and leaks are the most common issues found. The sewer line is probably the most ignored component of a home purchase inspection. Barrie Inspections is the ONLY real estate inspector in Victoria Texas that has a sewer inspection camera! We can easily find hidden clogs, roots, broken pipes, and more and are a fraction of the cost of Roto-Rooter!
How to fix:
Consider upgrading your plumbing with modern piping. At a minimum, repair any visible leaks. You will also want to unclog and clean out drains. It can even help to re-seat any toilets and install new wax rings if they are loose at the floor. When buying a home, request the sewer piping inspection (city sewer) or a septic inspection (country homes).
5. Pest Infestations
There is nothing that will send some homebuyers running quite like an infestation of pests, especially termites. Termites and other wood-eating insects can cause significant structural damage if left untreated. A home inspector is trained to identify signs of termites; however, a buyer should consult their lender to verify if they require a separate termite inspection with a pest control. FYI, the ‘free termite inspection’ offers of most pest companies will not satisfy the requirements of a home sale and this offer is only valid for the actual homeowners of course. Barrie Inspections contracts with three licensed termite inspection companies, and will be happy to schedule it for you with your home inspection!
How to fix:
Hire a professional pest control company to inspect and treat your home before a home inspection. If termites are found, you’ll need to disclose it. Treat the termites and get a termite warranty that will protect the buyer from re-infestation.
Discovering mildew/mold during inspection can spell (and smell) trouble. Extensive mold infestations can be costly to remediate. But if you don’t detect musty odors in your home then you probably don’t have to worry. Mold is caused by excessive moisture and is usually a sign of a leak or drainage issue. If the home has any mold issues, you’ll want to get it taken care of as soon as possible.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.”
How to fix:
Repair any obvious leaks or malfunctioning gutters and make sure the ground around the home is properly graded. Maintain proper humidity levels inside the house as well. That may mean running the A/C in the summer even if your house is unoccupied. Wearing proper eye and respiratory protection, spraying a bleach/water solution, and gently cleaning the areas can get rid of mildew/mold. In extreme cases, we recommend professional assistance.
7. Failing Heating/Cooling Systems
A near-death furnace or A/C can turn off buyers due to the typical $4,000 to $8,000 replacement cost. Typical issues include non-working controls, improperly heating or cooling, dirty/missing filters, blocked or loose flue piping, damaged heat exchangers, flexible gas line inside the furnace cabinet, and a missing float switch.
How to fix:
Having your furnace inspected annually can help extend its life. If it’s too late for that, consider replacing your furnace for safety reasons (and to keep buyers from walking.) Minor repairs can be easily made for low cost before they become bigger issues.
8. Electrical Wiring
Home inspectors commonly encounter problems with electrical wiring such as open ground receptacles, missing GFCI receptacles for kitchens, bathrooms, garage and exterior locations. Other typical items found include missing junction boxes, missing receptacle covers, burnt out lights, and older electric panels that are hazardous like Federal Pacific Electric and Challenger. Homes built between 1965 and 1973 may have aluminum wiring, which requires occasional connection tightening to prevent arcing.
How to fix:
Have a licensed electrician inspect and upgrade any faulty outlets and junction boxes, look for double lugged electrical terminals, and ensure all receptacles by kitchen counters and islands are GFCI protected as well as all bathroom, garage, and exterior locations. Make sure that your breaker box is correctly labeled as well.
9. Structural Damage
Older homes are prone to structural issues such as foundation settling, sagging floor joists, rafters, door headers, or even roof joist/rafter issues. It may not be immediately apparent if a structural issue is a major or minor issue, and many home inspectors will advise buyers to have the home inspected by a structural engineer if that is the case.
How to fix:
Structural repairs are among the costliest and can turn buyers off. If your home shows signs of significant structural flaws, it’s a good idea to hire a professional contractor that specializes in the specific structural issue that is being evaluated. In more extreme cases, or if you want a completely unbiased evaluation, a structural engineer may be needed to assess the extent of the problems. Contractors are also in the business of evaluating then selling a service, whereas engineers give you factual information and are done because they do not repair.
A building’s foundation is critical for its stability and longevity, and it determines numerous issues the structure might face in the future. Because of this, it may be crucial to conduct a structural analysis.
10. Poorly Maintained Condition
While cosmetic issues like peeling paint, minor cracks in the wall/ceiling, and deteriorated bathtub caulk aren’t major problems on their own, an accumulation of small problems could be a big turn-off for some buyers. Having numerous problems can signal to an inspector, and the buyer, that the home has been poorly maintained.
How to fix:
A fresh coat of paint inside and out can go a long way toward improving the visible condition of a home. At a minimum, we would recommend re-caulking or grouting tubs and showers, replace or repair broken light fixtures, install missing or broken receptacle/switch cover plates, and repair or replace broken/damaged appliances as well.
The Bottom Line
Inspections can be stressful for buyers, sellers, and their Realtors. However, knowing what inspectors look for can help you anticipate things that typically come up during a home inspection. Minor repairs here and there can improve the overall report findings and can translate to less negotiations which can hold up the closing. Remember to repair major issues in advance, or disclose them to the buyer.
Barrie Inspections is ready to handle all your real estate inspection needs! We have the experience and expertise to give you the best value and the most detailed inspection! Call 361-298-0472, email James@BarrieInspections.com, or schedule on our website 24/7 HERE. Barrie Inspections is here to help you! If you’re interested in seeing a sample of these reports from actual Barrie Inspections client inspections, please visit HERE.