No home is perfect and it’s good to keep things in perspective. Here are some of the more common issues found during a home inspection.
Roofs leak. Unfortunately, that common truism is just that. Common. Fortunately, most roof problems are minor, such as missing flashing or shingles. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to discover the roof is simply reaching the end of its life.
Signs of previous patching and repairs are also an issue as they might indicate water damage somewhere else in the building. Doing some work on the roof is not unreasonable, especially on an older home, but you want to avoid having to do a full replacement right after moving in.
Houses should be sited on their lot and graded so that water flows away from the house not towards it. Poor grading causes consistent water damage problems and can even result in foundation damage and the entire house becoming unstable.
Generally, you should avoid a house that is in a “dip” or at the bottom of a slope. If this is the case, be extra careful to look for windows and doors that do not close properly or floors that are not level.
Many homes have a mess of wiring from past DIY repairs, etc. Aluminum wiring is sometimes found in older buildings and should always be replaced as it is a serious fire hazard. As this may require a complete rewire of the home, you should consider walking away.
Lesser problems may not be an issue, although they should be addressed. Open junction boxes and amperage mismatches are amongst the most common.
Resist the temptation to save money by fixing wiring problems yourself, as this is often what caused the problem in the first place.
Plumbing is another area in which houses tend to develop accumulated problems from age and past repairs.
Extensive leaks can lead to water damage, especially in the basement and rooms below bathrooms. It’s fairly common to have to repair a number of leaks when moving in, and it might be worth reseating the toilet.
Older homes may also have clay sewer lines or polybutylene plumbing. The latter can burst at any time and should always be replaced.
A good home inspector will be able to track and mark any serious leaks and let you know which ones need the most urgent attention.
Be extra careful with homes that have stucco exteriors. Stucco generally lasts longer than siding, but sometimes poor installation can result in the “weep screed” becoming covered by the patio or stoop.
The weep screed is a line at the bottom of the stucco that pushes water that might have seeped into the stucco away from the house. If it is covered, then you may have water damage in your basement or foundation.
Clogged or Faulty Gutters
Some people simply do not clean their gutters often enough. Poor gutter maintenance can lead to clogs and water being channeled into the foundation. Eventually, gutters can bend or break. Replacing gutters is fortunately generally fairly cheap, but it might not be something you want to worry about right after moving to a new place.
Dealing with major issues, especially with the grading or the roof, might be enough to get you to walk away from what might otherwise be a good deal. However, it is always better to know about these problems before you move in to your dream home.