In my line of work, I sometimes feel like I come across the same few issues, inspection after inspection. Some of these issues are so common, I’m amazed that anyone still allows them to happen. And many of these mistakes are deal-killers and can cause a home buyer to walk away from a deal
Here’s a list of the most common problems I find. Avoid these, and your buyers will feel more comfortable with what their inspector says:
Among the most “called out” items from my inspections. If you’re going to wire up a receptacle, or add a light fixture, make sure it’s done to current standards. The inspector is going to test the outlets and look inside the panel, and if something is wired wrong, he’s going to find it. When he reports it, it will likely be in bold letters with the words “Safety Hazard” on it. This scares the heck out of buyers, even if it’s an easy repair.
Fix all leaking sinks and faucets. If you’ve done “DIY” plumbing, have a plumber come and bring it up to code. Nothing makes a nice house look shoddy faster than a leaking sink. Even worse, if a drain trap is installed incorrectly, the inspector will write it up as a safety hazard.
If you have an old roof, or a chimney that’s been leaking every spring for the past four years, make sure to let potential buyers know about it before the inspection. You may know the history of the roof, but the buyers may be surprised when the inspector points out a prior repair. In our area, a new roof can easily run $10-15,000, and the buyers may automatically assume the roof needs replacement, even if it just requires some new flashings.
Before you sell your home, look in the attic. Is there any visible mold or moisture damage? Check the entire attic for nests, mice or rat droppings. If you have bathroom fans, make sure they’re not spilling hot air. Attics can be a scary, mysterious place for a first-time home buyer, and the issues affecting them are often misunderstood.
A hot water tank usually lasts from 8-12 years. Check your tank age before the inspection. If it’s 20 years old, the inspector may recommend replacement. This is an easy issue to prevent – a new tank is fairly inexpensive, and you can advertise a new tank as a feature on your MLS listing.
A Home Inspector is a highly-trained professional who can identify issues that most people would not be able to find. There are some home defects, however, that are easy to spot. The following seven issues are commonly found in homes, and can cause expensive problems if not repaired.
What is it? Double-Tapping is an electrical issue where someone (usually the owner of the home) has connected two conductors to the same breaker terminal.
Risk: Overheating, arcing (sparking), fires.
Repair: A double-tap is usually an easy fix for an electrician, and shouldn’t be expensive. The electrician will join the two conductors together with a wire nut, and connect a short piece of wire to the terminal.
What is It? In order to install something such as a pipe or a duct, the installer cuts a piece (or an entire section) of one or more structural framing members, weakening the floor or ceiling structure.
Risk: At best, nothing. At worst, major structural failure.
Repair: This often involves a structural engineer being called. Often the beam is “sistered” (doubled) or plugged with additional wood. In some worst-case scenarios, the the beam must be replaced completely.
What Is It? A sink drain should always be vented and trapped. Venting is to prevent siphoning (suction) of the water in the trap, and the trap is to prevent sewer gases from entering the home. A proper P-Trap should always be installed.
Risk: A poorly installed drain can allow sewer gas to enter the home, causing odors, and a possible explosion.
Repair: Illegal traps are usually a straightforward fix for a plumber, which involves re-piping the affected area, and installing air-admittance valves (if needed).
What Is It? Most domestic hot water tanks have a service life of 8-12 years under normal use. After this, corrosion of the shell (interior) usually has taken place, and a leak will develop. This is an easy issue to spot – just take a look at the tank’s serial number.
Risk: Leaks, dripping, and poor hot water supply.
Repair: Replacement of the tank by a qualified plumber. In our area, the price ranges from about $900 (Electric) to $1500 (Gas).
What Is It? A bathroom exhaust fan is used to transport hot, humid air from the bathroom to the outside of the house. If a duct isn’t connected properly, the air will be dumped into the attic space, where it can cause a number of problems.
Risk: Mold, wood deterioration, roof failure
Repair: A contractor should be called to reinstall the duct, and seal it properly.
What Is It? Most inspectors will use a pinless moisture meter to test behind the tiles of a shower. If the grout is cracked, broken or improperly sealed, the inspector may suspect hidden moisture damage behind the walls.
Risk: Mold, deterioration of wood and drywall, loose / falling tiles.
Repair: In most cases, re-sealing the grout lines and applying silicone caulking will stop the problem. In extreme cases, the whole shower enclosure should be removed and re-installed.
What Is It? When landscaping slopes towards the home, or when the height of the soil is too close to the bottom of a home’s siding, then water may seep into the home’s foundation, walls, and crawlspace, causing big damage.
Risk: Wet basements, rotten siding, wall framing damage, mold
Repair: If caught early, a landscaping contractor can improve the slope of a lot, and prevent moisture ingress from happening. If water has already seeped into the home, a contractor will need to start investigating to see what kind of problems may be hidden.