5 Common Repair Issues That Come Up In A Home Inspection
Having a home inspection done on a property you are thinking of buying should be a priority regardless of the age or condition of the home. Even new construction homes can have a list of things that need seeing to before you move in. Age is no guarantee that the parts of the house will be in working order and doing the job they were designed to do. But older homes do have more scars than newer homes and as long as the repairs were made correctly should not be cause for concern or to get the seller to make unwarranted repair requests. A home inspection typically lasts about three hours and while you don’t have to be there for all of it, it is important to meet with the inspector before they are done. What may seem or sound like a big deal on paper may not be all that big of a deal after speaking with the inspector.
Heating and Air System
The heating and air unit is one of the most costly parts of a house to repair and eventually replace, running into thousands of dollars for a new system if the whole unit fails. Age is somewhat of a factor but the bigger cause of repairs is poor maintenance over the life of the unit. Any mechanic piece of equipment will fail or need repairs if not properly maintained, cars, bikes, small appliances, large appliances. If it has moving parts and get used a lot you have to maintain it. A regularly maintained good quality heating and air unit can last for decades while a poorly made and badly treated unit can give up after a dramatically short time. The first clue a homebuyer should look for is when you are in the house for the first time is check the filters in the heating/ac unit. If they are clean of any blockage it is a good sign, not a guarantee but better than if they are clogged with fluff, pet hairs etc. This is what causes most units to fail having to overwork to push the air through the blocked filters. The unit may be working fine but if you come across this you might want to have a heating and air specialist take a closer look. The seller does not have to make any repairs of something that is doing what it was intended but should respond to imminent major repairs that are obvious. A smart home seller who has maintenance records of their appliances and heating and air unit should provide that for any prospective buyers. Some homes have two units that the seller may only use one for example they may be downsizing and no longer use the upstairs so they are unaware of a problem until notified by the inspector. Some sellers are simply used to a poorly performing heating and air unit and have been paying for it in both higher energy bills and an uncomfortable living arrangement.
Plumbing in a home can be an intricate web of small pipes bringing stuff in and larger pipes taking stuff out. It is water after all which does funny things when it gets cold and reacts with stuff when it touches it. Over time almost every home will suffer a leak somewhere, hopefully something minor that is caught in time before causing major damage. A slow drip under the kitchen sink that takes years to notice could cause little to no damage or could rot all the wood it comes in contact with. Fittings that fail can have a catastrophic effect on a home if they are hidden behind drywall and don’t show up until the damage is done. A home inspector might find water stains in parts of the house but show no sign of significant damage and no reading on a moisture meter. These are common and should not be a concern after an explanation from the seller and a report on the repairs made if any. There have been a number of class action lawsuits over time with different components of a home and plumbing fixtures have had a few of them. If you find yourself looking at a home with a potential plumbing defect it may be time to pass or see if the seller will make the necessary changes. Not every seller will be willing to, just depends on the market you’re in and the severity of the problem.
Handyman Fixes That Aren’t
Often the biggest problem a home inspection will find is when the homeowner has taken on repairs in the home themselves or made some handyman changes around the house. If you find a house with an attic that has been turned into living space or a finished basement that was not completed by the builder, an extension or substantial addition to the home, the first thing to find out if the homeowner got the correct permits from the municipality. If they did and the work was inspected and signed off on by the town or county. then you should be good. If not then you could be getting yourselves into a ton of trouble and expensive trouble at that. The seller may have to apply for permits for any work they did to the house which could involve, opening walls to see if the work was done to code and may require bringing the work up to code. That is not something a home buyer would want to take on, better to make the seller pay for their errant ways. Any plumbing or electrical work that was done by the homeowner and not by a licensed contractor should be a red flag to any potential homebuyer.
The roof on any house takes a beating, some more than others but consider they are subjected to the extremes of the weather conditions protecting the house and its occupants. Summer heat and winter cold, snow and ice, rain and wind the roof gets a taste of all of it so no wonder you need to replace them eventually. Shingles have a certain life span 20, 25, 30 years in some cases and they may last longer than that. During that time it is common to have to do minor repairs such as replacing shingles or boots around ventilation pipes etc. The boots around pipes dry and crack quicker and can start to leak long before the roof needs to be replaced. A sure sign of this is water stains in the attic below the pipe which can sometimes go unnoticed for some time but will often not show any moisture content. Which raises the point of which a homebuyer has very little control over, but just after or during a prolonged rain shower is the best time to have a home inspection done.
Mold needs moisture to thrive and if there is enough of it with the right temperature, food supply and is left unchecked will continue to grow and multiply. In warm humid climates if something leaks and goes unnoticed mold can destroy everything in the vicinity. It is fairly common to find some mold in crawl spaces or basements which can be treated easily if only a small amount. In fact mold is everywhere we just can’t see it. Mold can also appear in bathrooms, laundry rooms, windows and in older homes with closets that have no ventilation and are on an exterior wall. It may require a more thorough inspection by a mold specialist to find out how serious the problem is if the inspector finds mold.
These are just five of the common issues that may come up on a home inspection. There are of course many more repair items that an inspector could find, some serious enough to warrant asking the sellers to make the repairs before closing on the house. Then there are issues that are very minor and should probably be left off the repair request. Each homebuyer will have their own take on what is serious and what is not to them. Take a look at some real estate related articles from professionals around the country.