HOME BUYERS: 4 sneaky issues to look out for before closing
Posted On: May 26, 2016
First-time home buyer or experienced home buyer, there are some obvious issues it doesn’t take an inspector to catch. Faulty appliances. Damaged walls. Stained carpets. There’s a reason home inspectors are a vital part of the home-buying process, however; they’re sticklers for detail.
Let’s take a look at a few of the common problems found in a home inspection that most buyers looking for a home to purchase may not notice.
- 1. POOR DRAINAGE
A recent survey completed by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors found that poor grading and poor drainage are among the most common issues uncovered by a home inspection. As most everyone knows, all things roll downhill – including water.
Proper grading should have the soil around the exterior of the foundation sloping down and away from the home, so that excess water follows suit. Unfortunately, oftentimes the grading is either improper or eroded, which doesn’t allow moisture and rain to drain properly and effectively away from the foundation of the home.
You may see signs of the issue – spongy or soft soil around the foundation; signs of leaking in the basement; water stains, a power-like residue on walls, or perhaps mold or mildew.
This can lead to some major issues, like foundation movement, cracking, or settlement, rot in the walls, mold – you get the idea. Problems can compound up into the interior of the home, causing windows that are out of square, uneven interior doors, or visibly out-of-level floors.
Your home inspector can tell you the extent of the problem. It may be a matter of installing gutters to channel the water away from the house, or applying waterproofing to the basement.
- 2. MOLD
Mold can come in several colors, and can grow between walls, in floors or ceilings, and in areas you may not be so thorough to explore, like the basement and attic. Mold can grow around leaky pipes, around windows or roofs, and anywhere in the home with poor ventilation or obvious dampness.
It isn’t a home inspector’s job to look specifically for mold, but for the most part, he or she will mention the obvious signs of water damage found and indicate the possibility for mold to be present. Your inspector pokes around all over the house – including those places like the basement and attic – that you may not. If water marks, musty smells, or any other indicators or there, it might be time to get a mold inspector on board as well.
- 3. POOR VENTILATION
A quick walkthrough of the house doesn’t provide sufficient time to uncover ventilation issues, especially if you’re seeing the home in colder months, when the house is locked up tight to keep in the heat.
In some cases, homeowners have done too good a job sealing their homes in order to cut down on heating and cooling costs. This can result in excess interior moisture, which in turn can cause rotting and damage to both the structural elements of the home, and non-structural elements as well. This is an especially common problem in attics, where, again, many people aren’t spending much time when looking at a home.
During an inspection, windows are checked as well, making sure each is operable and functioning correctly. Older windows may have broken sash cords, some windows may be painted shut, and other problems may leave windows inoperable, and unable to provide sufficient ventilation.
Finally, there is the home’s ventilation system, meant to circulate air to outside of the house. Some systems – like those bathroom fans we’re all familiar with – may be running into the attic or crawl space, instead of the exterior of the home as they should be.
- 4. POOR UPKEEP
There are other signs of poor upkeep that it commonly takes a home inspector to note. An inspector may find problems, for example, with the exterior fascia – pieces that are missing, rotting or broken pieces, etc. – that may not be easily visible to the buyer. Jerry-rigged or poorly installed wiring and plumbing done in an effort to save money might look normal to the average person, but an inspector is trained to spot these maladies.
Flaws in the exterior walls, doors, and windows may cause water to get into the home. They may also cause, along with insufficient caulking or weather-stripping, cold or warm air to seep in, raising energy costs. As with poor grading, clogged, bent, or inadequately sized gutters cause water issues by not diverting run off properly.