Home inspections performed by trained professionals are designed to find just about anything that might be amiss in a home. While it's always best to get a full property inspection, no matter how many issues you may already be aware of, there are some common things home inspectors see frequently. Knowing which issues commonly plague residences allows for more accurate planning and budgeting for future repairs.
HGTV surveyed three veteran home inspectors to get their take on the most common issues they see in real estate. As inspector Rick Yerger noted, water and moisture are without a doubt the biggest issues that plague many homes. Water can seep into a basement without a well-functioning drainage system, where it can cause dry rot, corrosion and harmful mold to build up. Sometimes, a house with a cracking or sloping foundation can draw water around the perimeter, which will exacerbate dampness in the basement.
Plumbing defects are another common reason water ends up where it shouldn't be. A knowledgeable inspector will be able to identify leaking or malfunctioning plumbing. Even if it's working now, it could cause a big headache down the road. Some older homes will be fitted with outdated fixtures that will need replacement sooner rather than later. These defective pipes are easily spotted by a trained professional.
Some clues to common issues can be assumed from the year the house was built. HGTV asked inspector Austin Chase to summarize his findings in older homes from various time periods. According to Chase, homes built between 1900 and 1950 often used outdated fuse boxes not fit for modern energy loads, and usually need to be replaced. In homes built during or after World War II, from about 1942 to 1958, Chase warned of sewer lines made out of papier mâché that could deteriorate easily. These sewer lines created out of a need to preserve iron for the war effort, but usually do not last very long. Expect to replace these if they haven't already been. Chase reiterated moisture problems as the leading issue found in home inspections. He recommended having an air quality inspection to test for mold spores that may indicate excessive moisture, improper drainage or leaks in the home.
Don't play with wires
Electrical issues are also commonly found in home inspections. Faulty wiring is more common in older homes and represents a major safety concern that should be addressed as soon as possible. The most common cause of house fires is faulty electrical wiring. The quality of a home's electrical system should be a priority of any home inspection, so if a professional notes it in their report, it's something that should certainly be dealt with. Rick Yerger noted that exposed wires are often the most risky and are generally red flags in the inspection process. Even distressed or seriously bent wires have the potential to break, thus exposing the metal wiring inside which could heat surrounding material to high temperatures. Open splice wires, which are two wires joined together by tape or connectors, are commonly found in garages or attics and represent just as big a risk as any other exposed wire.
Home inspector Dylan Chalk wrote an explanation on Redfin of the most common reasons a home ends up not selling. He pointed out the common misconception of the 20-year-old house that can throw prospective home buyers for a loop. While a well-built home should last far longer than 20 years, most basic systems in a home need to be replaced within that timeframe. Homes that have been neglected will not have had these repairs, and it usually takes a professional home inspection can sniff them out.
Ultimately, and perhaps unfortunately, the most costly issues in a home will be the hardest to spot. As explained by Improvement Center columnist Iris Price, structural concerns like a shifting foundation or failing door and window wells can end up costing a pretty penny - often upwards of $10,000. These types of repairs may be enough to get a concession out of from the current owner, or convince you to walk away from the sale. No bargain home is worth the risk of personal injury that mold and electrical fires may inflict. It's because of these that a good home inspection is the true bargain.