It pays to participate in the home inspection and learn about the home inspection problems they find with the house you're buying. Why? You might think you're pretty knowledgeable and you've inspected the house yourself but unless you're a home inspector, you don't have the experience gained from looking at 100s of homes.
When searching for our very first home, some problems were easy to identify like a bedroom apartment in the backyard with all of the electrical wires exposed. Even after running a handyman business for 8 years, I still use a home inspector when buying a house as they're more familiar with where to find the problems and it's a small investment for that peace of mind.
I've written many articles on water drainage problems, and recently addressed a question from a reader with an article, Homeowner Water Drainage Problems and Solutions. What was surprising was finding the problem tops the list of home inspection problems, reported by 36 percent of the inspectors participating in a survey by The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
Thanks to The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the information summarized here. This article reflects the consensus of many home inspectors, that Americans on average, take better care of their cars than they do their homes. They know this by the cracked and peeling paint they find and report among their home inspection problems, along with crumbling masonry, make-shift wiring and plumbing, plus broken or inoperable fixtures and appliances.
Home Inspection Problems Related to Water Damage
While the types of problems homeowners deal with varies by local weather, building codes and the age of the house, the top concerns remain the same – the safety of your family and protecting your home against water damage inside and out. In the ASHI survey, 4 of the 10 items listed by their home inspectors were related to water.
- Improper surface grading and drainage (36%) – was at the top of the home inspection problems reported. It's responsible for many common household maladies: cracked slabs and water penetration of the basement, footings or crawlspace. The most effective remedies for bad drainage include re-grading the ground around the house, repairing or installing a gutter and downspout system and providing positive drainage away from the foundation.
- Old and/or damaged roofs (9%) – are serious as they lead to roof leaks and water damage which could be avoided with timely repairs. Home inspectors know the useful life for different roofing materials and will identify when a roof is nearing the end of it's useful life. They'll also identify problems caused by damaged shingles, improper flashing or areas that need to be re-caulked.
- Plumbing problems – are among the top 10 home inspection problems, often for things that aren't obvious to homeowners. In my 100 year old Victoria, we found the waste line had rotted out but fortunately this happened on top of the pipe. Many houses still have old or incompatible piping materials, faulty fixtures and waste lines. Water heaters many not be secured (strapped) properly and home inspectors even find natural gas leaks.
- Poor ventilation – happens when homeowners try to save energy and “over-seal” their homes with adequate ventilation. This causes excessive interior moisture, which like other water damage, can cause rotting of structural (floor joists) and nonstructural elements (drywall) problems and mold.
- Miscellaneous exteriors home inspection problems – include windows and doors where caulking and weather stripping hasn't been maintained, causing water damage along with cold and draft homes.
Home Inspection Problems Pose Safety Concerns
- Improper and undersized electrical wiring (20%) – shouldn't be a surprise with more appliances and electronic equipment. The problem comes where the electrical service to the house can't support the demand, inadequate overload protection and old/improper installation like knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring, improper grounding, etc. Most of the time, the inspectors find improper wiring by do-it-yourselfers, which is a serious safety hazard.
- Older and inefficient heating systems – account for many home inspection problems including broken or malfunctioning controls, blocked chimneys, unsafe exhaust flues and cracked heat exchangers. More than inefficient heating, these problems represent major health and safety hazards for your family.
- Structural problems – are often found due to the other home inspection problems noted here. These problems affect structural components like the framing, foundation walls and window and door headers, and are more common in older homes.
- Miscellaneous interior home inspection problems – include the obvious sticky door or dripping faucet. More serious are environment concerns like asbestos and lead paint.
Learning More About Home Inspections
As homeowners we don't buy that many houses, so you might not realize you can participate in the home inspection. If you've been in your home for a long time and haven't been doing regular home maintenance, it might be worth getting an inspection to let you know what your home inspection problems are.
Some of our other articles on home inspections, which you may find helpful.