by Sean Skirrow
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Buying a house is a serious investment. Whether you’re purchasing a recently built home that looks to be in pristine order or a fixer-upper that will need additional work, having a home inspection done before you commit to a home is extremely important.
Ensuring that a qualified home inspector has checked out the property is the best way to get a thorough evaluation of the home. That being said, it’s always a good idea to have a general understanding of the types of problems you may encounter. Read on to discover the 8 most common home inspection findings and what they may mean.
Common Problems Found During Home Inspections
Most home inspectors agree that water damage to the structure is one of the most damaging and costly problems you can encounter. Water is the leading cause of dry rot, costly structural damage, and toxic mold.
How to Spot Water Damage
Look for moisture stains around the ceiling, walls or windows, or water ponding under or near the foundation. If your house has a basement, dampness there can also be a sign. Check carefully for water stains, powdery residue on walls, mold, and mildew. If you find any of these potential signs, make sure you book a home inspection company that checks for mold.
Another costly problem is problematic electric systems. If you see open junction boxes, amperage mismatches, wire nuts missing, or extension cords running everywhere when you view a home, these are all bad signs.
Older Homes and Home Fires
Many home fires are caused by faulty electrical wiring. Older homes lack ample power supply and electrical outlets, which is why you may see extension cords all over the place. The problem then becomes that extension cords place an extra burden on the home’s electrical system and could lead to a fire.
Exposed Electrical Wires
Another common electrical problem found in homes of all ages is exposed electrical wires. If an electrical wire is exposed, it is susceptible to physical damage. Open splice wires, which you’ll see if a wire is conjoined using just electrical tape or wire connectors, is usually the work of a do-it-yourself job. You’ll often see these in garages, attics, crawlspaces, or above dropped ceilings. These are dangerous and should be fixed immediately if you’re going to buy the home.
Knob-and-tube wiring can be very dangerous for a number of reasons. Most prominent among these issues is that the insulation which envelops the wiring is a fire hazard. In addition, knob-and-tube wiring lacks a grounding conductor.
When compared to wiring that does have a grounding conductor, that means you have an increased chance of an electrical fire and an increased chance of a power surge damaging anything you have plugged in. That includes higher cost items, such as your refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, TV, and personal electronics.
The risks associated with knob-and-tube wiring are the reason many home insurance companies refuse to insure homes with knob-and-tube wiring. Fortunately, this potentially dangerous wiring is not permitted for use in new construction homes. However, there is no code that requires it to be completely removed from a home. So to be entirely safe, before you purchase a home, be sure to ask your home inspector if it has any knob-and-tube wiring.
Homes Built Between 1900 and 1950
Homes built anytime between 1900 and 1950 often have outdated and inadequate fuse boxes. Unfortunately, that means the wiring in these homes is not adequate to keep up with today’s needs and may need to be entirely replaced.
Poor Drainage and Grade Sloping
This issue is often linked to water damage because if the home is not graded correctly, water will not drain correctly.
Signs of Poor Drainage
You will find spongy ground around the foundation and leaks in the basement. Different situations can lead to different issues around the home. When the land around the home slopes down toward the home, that can lead to damp or wet crawlspaces, movement of the foundation, or cracking of the foundation. If the water wicks up the foundation, that can lead to rot in the walls and mold.
Signs of Grade Sloping Under the House
Keep an eye out for any of these signs of grade sloping:
Windows that are not square or that look off-kilter
Interior doors with large, uneven gaps at the top when closed
Interior doors that visibly swing to one side or the other when left ajar
Floors that visibly sloping to one side or the other
Correcting grade sloping can be very costly. While it is possible to correct these issues, if the home you’re considering buying has signs of poor drainage and grade sloping, it may be time to move on to another home.
While not as costly as some other problems, clogged, broken, bent, or missing gutters are an issue. When a home with gutters includes sections that are not functioning correctly, water is not being channeled away from the home as it should be.
This is another issue that can result in water damage to your house. Water must drain away from the home to prevent water intrusion. If there are no gutters or downspouts present, adding the can help prevent or rectify drainage problems.
Roofs can have troublesome issues that are unfortunately not visible while you’re touring a potential home. Roof issues that are commonly found during home inspections include:
Brittle or curled shingles
Broken or missing flashings
A roof issue is one of the more costly things that can be found during a home inspection. That’s why for many home buyers, if the roof is in disrepair, they will walk away from the home and consider other options.
If there are problems with the foundation of the home, you may find sloping floors, doors and windows that stick, or even doors that swing in one direction when left ajar. Cracks in the foundation can be caused by a number of other serious issues. Repairing the foundation of a home is a significant expense and, depending on the causes of the foundation flaws, the underlying issues may create new foundational problems over time.
Poor home maintenance can lead to costly repairs. The home may need to be repainted, have the carpet replaced, or the driveway may be cracked and in need of repaving. If the home has not been maintained, it could be expensive to bring it back into a suitable living condition. Depending on the work that needs to be done and other factors, such as how long the home has been on the market, the seller may be willing to make those updates before you buy. Home seller checklist.
One of the things many home buyers overlook when touring a house is the plumbing. Yet, the process is simple:
Turn on every faucet
Turn on every shower
Flush every toilet
At each area, look for inadequate water pressure, slow drains, and signs of leaks. Keep in mind that those signs may mean opening the cabinet beneath a sink and checking for even a small drip from the pipes. If there is a kitchen or bathroom on the second floor, or if the home has a basement, look at the ceiling beneath each of them.
Some plumbing systems may only need minor repairs. However, it is not uncommon to find a home with plumbing issues where the total system needs to be replaced.