Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Most Common Home Inspection Defects

I encounter defective components in homes on an everyday basis. There just isn't a perfect home out there, anywhere. The following defects are most likely going to be found on a typical home inspection.

The house (as a whole) is poorly maintained – Deferred maintenance represents a potential high cost situation to bring the home back into a satisfactory condition. If the present homeowner (Seller) did not properly care for their home over the years, then someone will need to upgrade the home sooner or later. Preferably sooner than later. In a situation like this, my home inspection report can be utilized as a checklist in order to get the home back up to healthy standards.

Poor drainage around the building - All roof water needs to drain away from the building at its lower perimeter in order to prevent water intrusion into the basement. Roof gutters, downspouts and downspout extensions can be installed to rectify any roof drainage problems. Grading (sloped away from the foundation) is also very important in this situation. 98% of the homes I inspect absolutely need improvements in the grading.

Electrical - Insufficient overload protection to the home's electrical service and amateur (and often dangerous) wiring connections are the most common everyday issues. Electrical system problems are safety related and require immediate attention by a licensed Electrician, ASAP.

Inadequate Insulation and Ventilation in the attic – Poorly installed or inadequate insulation and improper ventilation causes excessive utility costs, lack of occupant comfort and moisture/mold build-up. Most older homes require additional insulation, which then requires ventilation improvement. In other situations... in an effort to save energy, many homeowners have “over sealed” their homes with insulation with no regard to ventilation, resulting in excessive interior moisture due to the inadequate ventilation. Significant moisture and excessive heat build-up within the attic cavity can lead to rapid shingle deterioration, Mold build-up, peeling of exterior paint, rusty nails, energy losses and rotting and failure of both structural and non-structural elements.

Heating/Cooling System Defects - Improper installations, inadequate maintenance, exhaust and combustion issues, aged components, and malfunctioning safety controls are the most frequent issues I usually encounter on a daily basis.

Roof Issues – Improperly installed and aged roof surfaces occur frequently. I often find poorly installed or missing flashing at transition areas. Repairs may be simple or (at times) the entire roof may need to be replaced.

Minor Structural Damage - Minor structural damage means the house is not likely to fall down, but someone should correct the problems before they become more serious issues later. Such damage is usually caused by water seepage into the foundation, floor joists, rafters or window and door headers and are found unstable. First you need to correct the cause of the problem (a leaky roof or improper drainage outside the foundation, for example), then repair or replace any damaged structural members. Inadequate caulking and weather stripping is most common. Obviously, the more extensive the damage, the more expensive it will be to repair.

Plumbing Issues – The most common defects are leaking gaskets, deteriorated cast iron waste pipes, leaking and outdated problematic systems like polybutylene and galvanized piping and any incompatible piping materials. Repairs can often be performed by a licensed Plumber but on occasion, there's extensive damage and a total system replacement is the only solution.

Air and Water Penetrating Cracks and Window Perimeters at Exterior – Foundation cracks and separations at basement windows can allow water into the wall cavities which is conducive to rot and Mold growth. Finished basements with moisture issues require removing walls and floor coverings after repairing the water entry area.

Attic and Structural Damage – Cut, modified and broken trusses, rafters and floor joists are often found in attic cavities and on occasion I will find structural components missing. Usually carpentry repairs are needed in these situations, however I find it is rarely an imminent safety hazard.

Termite and other wood destroying organisms- Due the local environment and conducive conditions. All wood boring insect damage can absolutely be corrected. Costs will always depend on how excessive the insect damage is. The wood sill on top of the foundation is the worst area to have an infestation as this area will be very costly to repair because the house will need to be professionally lifted in order to remove the damaged sills and replace with new sills.

Fire safety issues - Related to Electrical issues (above) and fireplaces and wood stoves are often neglected by homeowners.



Now someone must take the responsibility to repair these defects soon and if you personally decided to take on these issues yourself, you will most likely be looking for specialized contractors to perform the repairs for you. I highly suggest you check all contractors licenses and their references before you hire anyone to perform work around your home that requires skill. Be especially aware of Home Depot remodeling contractors.
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Massachusetts Home Inspections