Home inspections provide incredible insight into the condition of a property. As most people know, whether you’re preparing to list your home, about to purchase your dream home, or just want to get a better understanding of your home’s current condition, getting a home inspection performed is a great first step.
However, fewer people know what to do after completing their inspection. Once you've received your inspection report, it can be overwhelming to analyze. After all, some reports are 50+ pages long. But don't worry, we're here to help.
At Inspectify, we review a lot of inspection reports! We want to pass what we’ve found important on to you, so, we’ve compiled a list of the top things to look for in your inspection report. Below, we discuss some of the most common (and costly) defects. These are the key issues you want to look out for and should plan on getting fixed.
Water and Moisture
Depending on the severity, water damage can cause major issues in a home, most of which are red flags for buyers. For example, water intrusion often results in structural damage, roof leaks, and can cause stains on walls and ceilings.
If water damage is hidden or overlooked it can cause mold to form, resulting in a toxic environment. In severe cases, mold remediation can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Things to look for:
- Stains on the ceiling, walls, baseboards
- Stains in the attic from possible roof leaks
- Cabinets with plumbing having visible moisture or stains
- Vegetation within 6 feet of the home
- Soil sloping towards the home
- Inadequate clearance between soil and siding
- Corrosion on plumbing fixtures or calcium build up around fittings
Foundations are designed to provide the structure's stability from the ground up. If structural issues are left unfixed, they could further damage the home and create safety hazards.
However, it’s important to remember that some cracks are normal and not necessarily cause for concern. For example, homes settle over time and cause hairline cracks, which can often be remedied quickly and inexpensively.
Sometimes, water can cause the soil around the foundation walls to expand. Once the soil dries, it shrinks, and the foundation settles, creating cracks and openings. Vacant or vacation homes may also develop cracks in walls and ceilings due to temperature and humidity fluctuations from the house not being climate controlled.
So, when should you be concerned? Jagged, diagonal, and large cracks (wider than 1/8 inch) can indicate a more severe issue with the home’s structure. If you see something questionable, you can have a reputable builder or engineer inspect the structure to be sure.
Things to look for if there is settling or the structure is compromised:
- Cracks in basement walls or around door frames
- Uneven or damaged floors
- Gaps between walls and floors
- Nails popping out of walls
- Cracks in bricks or stonework
- Leaning front porch or stairs
- Cracked or leaning chimney
- Gaps around windows or door frames
Roofs are designed to protect a home and its contents from the elements. However, when a roof is damaged, it can cause serious issues such as water damage and rot, mold -- or leave your home exposed to unwanted guests (we love animals, but not being surprised by them in the attic).
Depending on your environment and the material of your roof, you can expect the roof to last about 30 years. The best way to extend the lifespan of your roof is to have it inspected and maintained regularly.
It’s not always necessary for sellers to repair a damaged roof before listing their home. While many roof issues we see in inspection reports are minor and inexpensive to repair, they can get pricy. Major roof repairs cost up to $15,000, while full replacements run up to $45,000.
Signs that a roof needs repair or replacement:
- Loose or missing shingles
- Buckled or curled shingles
- Loss of texture on shingles
- Cracks or rust on flashing
- Excessive algae growth
- Soft spots or unevenness
- Moisture in attic or ceiling
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, electrical distribution or lighting equipment in the home remains the 4th leading cause of fires. A licensed electrician can determine if electrical issues are simple fixes or if they require more extensive repair.
Rewiring a home can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of the house and the extent of the repairs.
The most common electrical issues that inspectors find include:
- Exposed wiring and splices
- Undergrounded three-prong plugs
- Painted outlets
- Double-tapping of circuit breakers
- Reversed polarity
- Improperly modified electrical panels
- Knob and tube Wiring
- Aluminum wiring
- Federal Pacific breaker panels
- No GFCI protection on outlets
- Missing knockouts in panels
- More than one neutral wire in a slot
As previously mentioned, water is a home’s worst enemy, and it can be hard to find significant plumbing issues until a home is inspected. Replacing the plumbing can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and leaking or rusted pipes are often signs of more severe plumbing issues.
Even a leaking faucet or running toilet can make your water bill skyrocket and should be repaired right away.
Plumbing issues to look for:
- Polybutylene or Polyethylene piping
- Galvanized pipes
- Broken or rusty pipes
- Clogged sewer line
- Running toilets
- Hidden leaks
- Water heater
- Broken thermostat
- High or low water pressure
- Sediment build-up or rust
Insect and Pest Infestations
Carpenter ants, certain beetles, and termites are among the most common wood-destroying insects that can wreak havoc on a home.
Worst-case scenario, a home inspector will find these destroying organisms once it’s too late. In this event, certain components of a home — such as the foundational structure or wiring — will need to be replaced, which could seriously affect value and buyer interest.
If wood-destroying insects are found during an inspection, sellers are recommended to contact an exterminator. Extermination typically costs a few hundred dollars, but it varies based on the severity of the damage.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control the temperature and airflow in your home. These systems require regular maintenance to perform efficiently.
The National Association of Home Builders study found that an HVAC system typically lasts 15-25 years. However, specific components of the system can break or malfunction, especially in older HVAC systems, compromising the system’s efficiency and air quality in your home. In addition, new HVAC systems can cost upwards of $6,000.
Home inspectors will check the essential functions of the HVAC system to determine if it’s in working order. Possible defects include:
- Dirty air filters
- Rust around unit
- Open seams in flues or slopes up to chimney connection
- Combustion gas order
- Cracked ductwork
A home inspection is the best way to get an overall picture of the current condition of your home and tip you off to anything that may be awry. In addition, regular inspection and maintenance of your home will increase the lifespan of its systems and help maintain your home’s value.
Whether you're looking to sell, about to buy, or inspecting your current home, it's important to know exactly what to look for in your inspection report. Inspectify makes your life easier by showing you the top priority issues and providing free repair cost estimates for your entire inspection report (other guys charge $100+).
At Inspectify, our goal is to help you discover and care for the home you love. We hope this article provides some helpful tips when reading your inspection report. If you have any questions for us, please drop a comment below or contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer!
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