11 Things You Need to Know to Pass Your Home Inspection
While homebuyers may vary greatly when it comes to individual tastes and preferences, one thing they all share in common is wanting to buy a home that’s in good condition with no major repair issues lurking just beneath the surface. Potential buyers always wonder:
“Is the foundation as steady as it seems? Are the wiring and plumbing going to go haywire on me? Will this roof hold against the strong weather during the next rainy season?”
These concerns are the very reason why professional building inspectors are required in 99 out of 100 real estate transactions. A little known fact is that there are at least 33 potential problem areas that come under scrutiny during the home inspection.
I’ve identified the 11 most common ones sellers have to worry about, and included some tips on how you can be ahead of the game by resolving any potential issues in these areas prior to the inspection so that you can rest assured knowing it will pass with flying colors.
#1) Defective Plumbing
Leaky or clogging pipes are the two main issues that arise with residential plumbing systems. A quick visual inspection should allow you to easily identify any potential problem areas. The easiest way to do this is to turn on all faucets in the highest bathroom in the house and flush the toilet at the same time. This will pressurize the system so you can identify leaks to fix.
One of the other problem indicators is the sound of running water, which means that the pipes in your home are undersized. And if the water is dirty or murky when first turned on at the faucet, it’s a sure sign that they pipes are rusting, which if not addressed, can result in serious water quality problems.
#2) Wet or Damp Basement
Another important issue the building inspector will check for is any hint of powdery white mineral deposits on your basement walls a few inches off of the floor. This could indicate cracks in the foundation, and will surely be given away by any indication of a mildew odor in the room.
Depending on just how bad the damage is, it may cost you anywhere from $200 to $1,000 to fix it. Complete waterproofing of the home could cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 and must be weighed against the total value of the home and your access to repair funds.
#3) Faulty Wiring or Electrical Systems
At a bare minimum you home should be capable of 100 amps of electrical service, and this should be clearly marked as well. Your wiring systems should only be made up of copper or aluminum wire, and building inspectors will look for “Octopus Wiring” as an indication of poor installation and a potential fire hazard.
#4) Heating or Cooling System Issues
The two most common causes of poor heating performance are insufficient insulation and a poorly functioning heating system. As for the furnace, the building inspector will be checking for indicators of the age and life left. A typical furnace has a lifespan of roughly 15 – 25 years, so if it’s been longer than that since the furnace has been replaced, you should go ahead and swap it out.
If you have a heat exchange system, that’s something that building inspector will pay careful attention to during the inspection, as a cracked unit can release deadly carbon monoxide gas into the home and put the residents at risk! If damaged, they must be replaced and cannot simply be repaired.
#5) Roofing Problems
As you may have guessed it, leaky roofs are the number one problem affecting this area of the house. And while we haven’t gotten too much rain lately in California, leaky roofs can happen for a number of reasons. Physical deterioration of the shingles such as curling or splitting, or mechanical damage from a wind storm are the two most common causes.
Another potential problem area are the gutters that run down the sides of the house to the ground. If they are leaking into the home, obvious that can become a BIG problem really quick. The inspector will check for issues in these areas and possibly recommend a fix.
#6) Damp Attic Spaces
Similar to the potential basement issues I addressed earlier, many different issues can cause problems leading to a damp basement. The main causes are problems with the insulation, ventilation and vapor barriers. This can result in mold and mildew spreading throughout the attic and put the roof at risk of facing major structural issues. The typical costs to remove mold and mildew in the attic can easily run over $2,500.
#7) Rotting Wood
This is one the few issues that can affect multiple areas of your home, such as door or window frames, trim and sidings, or decks and fences. This easy to inspect with a simple visual check, and it’s recommended you replace any rotting wood as the inspector will poke and prod the wooden areas of the home if they’ve been freshly painted to look for potential issues.
#8) Masonry Work
Sometimes homeowners are wary of rebricking trouble spots of their home due to the expensive costs, but if left unattended the costs will only grow in size as the lack of repairs can lead to issues with water and moisture penetration into other vulnerable areas of the home.
Other potential issues in neighborhoods can result from caved in brick chimneys, as the clog in airflow can fill the home with smoke and dangerous carbon monoxide, and possibly even cave in on the house and put your life at risk! YIKES!
#9) Improperly Fused Electrical Circuits
Shoddy installation and lack of proper planning can be a serious fire hazard when your electrical circuit draws more amperage than it was designed for. Most fuses are going to be set for 15 amps, with some of the larger appliances such as the stove and clothing dryer having larger fuses. But don’t worry, it’s only a couple hundred dollars to replace the system with a new circuit panel if you have any issues.
#10) Satisfactory Security Features
Outside of an electrical security system installed in the home, the inspector will check for other trouble areas that can put you and your personal possessions at risk if not properly installed. Things such as doors and window locks, your sliding glass door, and a smoke detector in major areas of the home. Installing isn’t too expensive, and you may even be able to do the work yourself and save some money.
#11) Structural and Foundation Issues
Any inspector worth his salt is going to carefully inspect the major structural areas of the home and the footing and foundation throughout, as these are fundamental to the home and safety of the residents.
Homebuyers Want to Know Your Home Inside and Out
When you go to put your home on the market, you don’t want to end up with any unpleasant surprises that hurt your chances of getting the price you’re asking for simply because you had issues with the home that the buyer used as ammo against you to negotiate with.
By taking some time to check out the 11 common problem areas I mentioned above, you catch any potential issues way ahead of time and be defending yourself against disappointment in the future.