Unfortunately, homes aren’t always perfect. Knowing the most common problems found by home inspectors can help protect you and your client.
Anyone preparing to sell a property should make themselves aware of the condition of the components of the property they are offering. Knowing ahead of time what a buyer’s inspections are likely to reveal, allows the seller to disclose properly and puts the seller more at cause over the escrow process. There are many systems of a building that can have issues. Here’s a list of the top five:
- Electrical Systems. Unprofessional modifications to a home’s original electrical system often create hidden issues that go undetected unless there is an obvious problem or tragedy. Since most people do not know enough about wiring to verify the quality or correctness of an electrician’s work, this is one area where obtaining permits and having city progress inspections is very important.
- Poor exterior maintenance. This allows deterioration of expensive materials such as windows, doors, trim, decks and every exterior component. Properly painted, caulked and sealed exterior materials can remain serviceable nearly indefinitely. Still, home inspectors constantly find damaged and deteriorated materials caused primarily due to a lack of proper maintenance. When it comes to maintaining a home, the adage “A stitch in time saves nine” truly applies.
- Drainage and moisture issues. Leaking roofs, damaged flashing, improper roof gutters, poorly drained decks, and balconies allows water to enter the structure and damage the interior of the building. When that moisture gets into low light areas such as attics and interior walls, it can also bread mold problems. Improper landscaping drainage is another way for water to enter into the crawl spaces and around foundation systems which is the number one reason for settlement, sloping floors and cracked walls and ceilings.
- Hidden defects. Things like a damaged sewer line system can appear to be functioning normally when in fact there is a cracked pipe leaking underground. That would often be unknown and therefore undisclosed by a seller. That kind of situation could also be missed by the real estate agents and even the home inspector’s general visual inspection. That is a hidden defect which can only be detected with a camera in the hands of a professional sewer line inspector. Similarly, a professional chimney inspector with a camera is the only way to definitively verify that a chimney is structurally sound and fire safe.
- Un-permitted remodeling and additions are a source of controversy and frustration. Garages and covered patio areas are often converted to living areas as a quick way to add useable square footage to a home. However, any changes to the plumbing, electrical, mechanical or structural components of a building require building permits and progress inspections. Without progress inspections performed during construction, fundamental components of the building are hidden from view. This starts with the foundation system and applies to everything in-between up to the roof material. A property inspector can only do a visual inspection of the readily visible finished product and cannot verify buried or hidden items.
A seller wanting to prepare for a sale should properly disclose issues to greatly reduce the length of the list of repair items found by a property inspector. They will be ahead of the game by addressing these issues prior to listing any property.