When it comes to a home inspection, most potential buyers and sellers are aware of only the major factors that can either make or break a sale. Mold, damage from rats or insects and a faulty foundation can all be issues when it comes to landing that dream home. However, there are plenty of other dangers laying in wait, many of which go unidentified by the average homeowner. Here are a few of those unexpected complications and how to avoid falling prey to them:
Damage from earthquakes
Even without feeling tremors, most of the country is susceptible to earthquakes. As the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors points out, 45 states in the continental U.S. are in moderate to high danger of earthquakes. There's a number of potential hazards that come with quakes. Some stud-bearing walls aren't built to handle movement, and these crucial support structures can collapse in the early stages of a quake. For those whose house is on a slope, the structure can collapse if the posts aren't adequately braced. Quakes can also effect natural gas and water heaters, leading to possible shorts in the wiring. With a home inspection, though, there are ways to address specific quake-related issues, and pre-planning is crucial. That process might include bracing water heaters, various support structures and chimneys; placing glass and mirrors in more neutral areas where they'll be less of a concern; reinforcing foundations with steel bracing; and ensuring the structural integrity of cabinets and doors as to avoid breakage.
Buried oil tanks
Common in many older homes and those across the Eastern Seaboard, underground oil tanks pose a crisis for homeowners. Even if the tank hasn't been used for some time, it can still leak hazardous chemicals into the ground, and that can be costly. According to New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, tanks have a usable life of 10-20 years, and when they inevitably begin to leak, the cleanup process can cost upward of $10,000. Of course, even if a homeowner removes the tank before it begins to leak, that process can still cost as much as $2,500, depending upon the region and the service provider. When it comes to the home inspection, there's a few points that both a seller and buyer should be aware of. For one, most municipalities will stress the total removal of the tank; even if they're just drained, these tanks can still generate leaks. To determine if a given tank has leaked, be aware of a murky sheen on groundwater and oil-tinged odors. To be definitively sure, most home inspectors will run a series of environmental tests.
Asbestos and lead paint
Up through the late 1970s, houses across the U.S. were built using asbestos and lead paint. However, when it was discovered that these substances lead to everything from kidney damage to mesothelioma, according to the EPA, they were discontinued outright. Even still, these materials pose issues for modern homeowners: According to a survey by OldHouseWeb, 50 percent of Americans live in homes built in 1945 or earlier. Another mitigating factor, given the age of these homes, is that many have been remodeled over the years, and sometimes certain areas are covered up as opposed to being dealt with per environmental guidelines. The key, according to U.S. News & World, is to test every component of the house, even those that don't seem obvious; for instance, asbestos isn't just in the walls but also the floor tiles found in many basements. Because of the nature of both materials, asbestos and lead paint need to be removed by professionals; the latter specifically is usually sealed off as opposed to being removed outright.