As life events go a Home Inspection, whether buying or selling a house, can be one of the more stressful ones. No matter where you’re at in the process, as a buyer- once you’ve written your offer or as a seller once you’ve received an offer the next step is for the home to be inspected.
For home sellers- it’s not required, but suggested you have a pre-listing home inspection done prior to listing your home for sale. A prelist inspection of a home can provide peace of mind knowing that any unknown issues could come up makes for a smooth transaction.
No matter how long you’ve lived in your home, you may have items that should be repaired prior to listing your home. Not only may it come up during a buyer’s home inspection but certain repairs may need to be made by the lender if the buyer is getting financing. Being proactive and having a professional inspector come out beforehand spares the seller of any unknown surprises and can make sure the home is free of any major defects or issues.
As a home buyer- having an inspection performed on a property can help spare the guesswork needed as to whether the home is in sound shape. Homes are not perfect and it’s best to know up front if you may be looking at costly repairs on the home of your dreams. What to look for in a home inspection can vary by age and the size of the home, among other factors. It’s more than likely to include at least a few of the items listed below.
As an agent who has facilitated many transactions on both the buying and selling side- here are the top home inspection issues I see again and again.
Top Ten Home Inspection Checklist
1.) Poor Grading – This is an issue I see all the time and it is one of the most basic things to remedy. This refers to the soil situated around the home. Soil around the home should slope away from the foundation- this helps move water away from the home and keeps a dry foundation.
2.) Poor Ventilation in the attic or crawlspace – There are many things that can contribute to lack of air flow in these spaces. In attics, we tend to see bathroom exhaust fans being directly vented into the attic space- this used to be acceptable years ago, however moisture leaving the bath and traveling to the attic makes for desirable conditions for mold. Also, lack of vents can keep the air from circulation as well.
Crawl space ventilation is also important for the same reasons, if any moisture gets in, it has no way of getting out. Making sure crawl space vents are free of debris and no moisture source is present is what you want to be looking for.
3.) Mold – Yes the dreadful “M” word. It’s more commonly found on home inspections here than folks would like to believe and we do see it come up frequently. Mold needs darkness, moisture and a source to feed on. Here in the Boise area, we see damp fall and spring weather which are ideal conditions for mold to grow in.
If there is a source like an exhaust fan feeding into the attic or a leaking pipe in the crawl space you may have issues. This is where you do not panic and get a professional to give an estimate for remediation and to complete necessary repairs to prevent it in the future.
4.) Roof Condition -Having to replace a roof can bring on a steep cost if the roof is beyond its useful life. While the inspector isn’t necessarily a roofing expert, if the inspection indicates that the present roof is shot, it’s best to get a second opinion. In some cases, repairs may just be needed to correct any shingle curling or perhaps to replace any flashings to help keep water from entering the attic.
5.) Chimney and Fireplaces – Here in our area, wood burning or gas fireplaces are prevalent. What you will normally see is wear and tear at the very top portion of the chimney like missing mortar or chimney caps. Within the fireplace itself, cracked chimney tiles from frequent use may come up. While the inspector will look at both of these to be sure they’re in working order, it’s always best to have the chimney cleaned and inspected before use.
6.) Electrical – This can come up in many different forms and can vary on the age of the home and whether or not the work was performed by a licensed electrician.
In older homes, unless they’ve been fully renovated some of the things you may run into are a dated electrical system like knob and tube or home with a fuse box. The main issue with these types of systems is that they are not capable of supporting the energy needed today to run large appliances and some have been deemed unsafe. One of the most common things I see is additions that were built on a property with unpermitted electrical outlets and switches.
7.) Plumbing – Some of the most common plumbing issues are small leaks around toilets and sinks. This can be caused by age or incorrect installation of materials. The main issue with even a small leak and that over time it can be saturating the subfloor and causing a weak flooring system. Water leaks can also wreak havoc in the crawl space, causing damage to trusses and potentially being a breeding ground for mold.
8.) HVAC – The most common issue with a heater and air conditioner is that there is no recent record of the unit being serviced. This is something that should be taken care of annually to ensure both units are in safe and working order. Dirty air filters and dirt vent exchanges also make the list. Not only is it bad to have dirt flowing throughout the home, but makes the furnace work harder to get the job done.
9.) Room Additions – This tends to be more common in older homes where over the years, spaces were added. Be on the lookout for sagging floors, and look at the foundation appearance from the outside. If any electrical is present, the inspector should look those over to ensure they are functioning properly. If it appears as though the addition was somewhat recent- ask to see if it was permitted.
10.) Peeling paint – Not only is the sight visually unappealing, but the purpose of paint is not only to make a house look great; it also protects what’s underneath which is usually wood. Exposed wood over time can become a sponge and absorb moisture which will then cause swelling. Once moisture exits the wood becomes brittle. Areas underneath the soffits and close to the ground where water hits then splashes on the surface is more prone to having water damage.
It’s worth noting that all home inspection reports will be different. Many homes will have some issues that pop up, all of which can be repaired. It’s important to know that the older the home, the more likely you are to have repairs just due to age.
My rule of thumb when working with buyers and sellers throughout the home inspection process is if it has to do with structural soundness or safety, it needs to be addressed. More resources for both buyers and sellers.
Lisa Kohl is a full-time real estate professional in Boise, Idaho. Lisa’s experience as a Realtor helps her clients successfully complete real estate transactions without a hitch. Questions about this post, send us and message. We love receiving questions from our readers. They allow us to focus our content on issues that are important and relevant to sellers and buyers in Idaho.