4 Critical Items to Look Out for in a Home Inspection
Most buyers choose to hire a professional inspector to give the property they want to buy a careful examination. This way, there are no expensive surprises after the deal is sealed. Or, it provides an opportunity to back out if there is a serious problem. Statistically speaking, inspections are one of the primary reasons that one in every 16 real estate deals fails to close.
Inspections can also be used as a negotiating tactic with sellers if there are items that could use repair. If the seller is anxious enough to sell, they may agree to shoulder the cost of certain repairs. Here are four critical items to look out for in a home inspection.
Is the Foundation Sound?
If there's a problem with the foundation, this is a big-ticket expense and one most people don't want the hassle of dealing with—for good reason. Foundation issues point to serious problems. Carefully read the home inspection report to determine if the inspector(s) found any symptoms suggesting a foundation issue. Good inspectors will go over everything carefully and highlight the most serious problems. Be aware that young trees growing too close to the foundation can result in them reaching underneath it as they grow larger, causing potential shifts or structural issues.
Is There Mould or Water Damage?
Water damage is a serious problem. It's one many buyers walk away from because it can be costly to repair and/or can lead to health problems for a home's occupants. Obvious and underlying red flags that suggest there is a problem include:
- Pools of water collecting in or around the home.
- Water drainage or sloping that points towards the home
- Noticeable mould—keep in mind, mould can be hidden as well
- Visible water stains in the home
- Gutters not properly routed from the roof
- Roof damage
- Musty and/or mouldy smells
In addition to potentially toxic mould, long-term water exposure means there's a significant chance that underlying wood rot or structural problems might exist.
How Old is the HVAC System?
Hopefully, the seller can provide extensive records on the HVAC system, including maintenance and repairs. Definitely learn the age of the equipment from the inspector to learn if its lifespan is coming to an end. Older HVAC systems are more likely to break down and can often be more expensive to repair (and parts may be difficult to find). Outdated A/C units often have more freon leaks. As of 2020, some types of freon are being phased out, so they are only available from limited sources, making freon leaks expensive.
Is the Electrical System Up to Code?
Outdated wiring systems can be a dangerous situation. This is especially true in older homes that may contain components that are not up to modern standards or lack a proper power supply. Signs that suggest electrical problems may be lurking within a home's walls include:
- Visible extension cords to serve as additional outlets.
- Two-prong outlets found throughout the home
- Improper grounding for outlets
- Exposed electrical wires
- Broken switches that need to be “jiggled”
Inspectors should also determine the age of the electrical panel and if it's up to current standards. Some older panels don't have enough capacity to manage electrical loads. This could mean constant blown fuses, which is an inconvenience. However, if other electrical components aren't safe, there may be a higher risk of an electrical fire. If you're looking to decrease your home's electrical load, try some of these energy-efficient upgrades.
A home inspection is a good investment for buyers. Homes may have significant flaws or other problems not generally caught by the untrained eye. Having a professional look in every corner and peek in every cranny of a home can reassure buyers that the house is a good purchase and will offer joy (or extra income) for years to come.