Home buyers may be as unique as the homes they are looking to buy, but they all share a common desire to ensure that the home they will call their own is as good beneath the surface as it appears to be. They will have concerns about the roof, the heating system, the floors and the walls and everything that they can’t readily see with the naked eye. In most cases, you can make a reasonable pre-inspection yourself if you know what you’re looking for. Knowing what to look for can help you prevent little problems from growing into major problems.
Defective plumbing can manifest itself in two manners – leaking and clogging. A visual inspection can detect leaking, and an inspector will gauge water pressure by turning on all faucets in the highest bathroom and then flushing the toilet. If you hear the sound of running water, it indicates that the pipes are undersized. If the water appears dirty when the faucet is first turned on, this is a strong sign that the pipes are rusting. This can result in severe water quality issues.
An inspector will check your walls for a powdery white substance a few inches off the floor, and will look to see if you feel secure enough to store things right on your basement floor. A mildew odor is almost impossible to eliminate, and an inspector will certainly be conscious of it. It can cost you up to a thousand dollars to seal a crack in or around your basement foundation, depending on the severity and location. Adding a sump pump and pit could cost up to a thousand dollars, and complete waterproofing (an average sized 3-bedroom home) can go as high as ten to fifteen thousand dollars. You will have to weigh these figures into the calculation of what you want to net on your home sale.
Inadequate electrical wiring can be dangerous as it can easily lead to fires. Your home should have a minimum of 100 amps of service, and this should be clearly marked. Wire should be copper or aluminum. Home inspectors will look at octopus plugs as indicative of inadequate circuits and a potential fire hazard.
Insufficient insulation and an inadequate or poorly working heating system are the most common causes of poor heating. While a clean furnace, without rust on the heat exchanger, usually has life left in it, an inspector will ask and check to see if your furnace is over its typical life span of fifteen to twenty-five years. For a forced air gas system, a heat exchanger will come under particular scrutiny since one that is cracked can emit deadly carbon monoxide into homes. These heat exchangers cannot be repaired – they must be replaced.
Problems with the roof (water leakage, for example) can occur for many different reasons, such as physical deterioration of the shingles or mechanical damage from a windstorm. When gutters leak and downspouts allow water to run down and through the exterior walls, the external problem becomes a major internal one as well.
Damp attic spaces are a sign of ventilation, insulation and vapor barrier problems that can cause water to pool and form moisture, mold and mildew. This can lead to premature wear on the roof, structure, and building materials. The cost to fix this damage can easily run over two thousand dollars.
Rotting wood can occur in many places, such as doors, window frames, trim, siding, decks and fences. The building inspector will sometimes probe the wood to see if this is present – especially when wood has been freshly painted.
Re-bricking can be costly, but left unattended, these repairs can cause problems with water and moisture penetration into the home which in turn could lead to a chimney being clogged with fallen bricks, or could even lead to a total chimney collapse. These problems are far more dangerous than ignoring this potential hazard.
A fire hazard is created when more amperage is drawn on the circuit than was originally intended. 15 amp circuits are the most common in a typical home, with larger service for large appliances such as stoves and dryers. It can cost several hundred dollars to replace your fuse panel with a circuit panel.
More than a purchased security system, an inspector will look for the basic safety features that will protect your home such as proper locks on windows and patio doors, dead bolts on the front door, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all the bedrooms and on every level of the home. Even though pricing will vary, these components will add to your costs. Before purchasing or installing, you should check with your local experts.
An inspector will certainly investigate the underlying structure and foundation of your home, as structural integrity is vital to the life of the home.