We get a lot of questions about home inspections—and for good reason. Before buying a property, most home hunters opt to have a qualified home inspector take a look at it. An expert eye can catch all kinds of things you might miss, from plumbing defects to structural problems. That said, some issues are more serious than others. Knowing the difference can help you make a more informed purchase (and maybe even negotiate a better price).
When you’re going through the results of a home inspection, here are five red flags to look out for…
1) Dampness in the basement
If your report notes any dampness, you’ll want to figure out where it’s coming from. Is it a burst pipe or plumbing leak? An improperly sealed basement? Depending on the source, it could be an easy fix, a costly repair, or an ongoing problem. The worst-case scenario is mold. In addition to making it harder to sell your home in the future, this nasty surprise can create serious health problems. If you suspect there may be mold in a home you want to purchase, consider contacting a specialist. Better safe than sorry!
2) An old or damaged roof
A roof built with high-quality materials should remain in good condition for 20 to 25 years, and some can last even longer. On the flipside, damage—from wind, rain, and general wear and tear—can reduce the lifespan of this critical home component. That’s why it’s so important to have a good sense of the age and condition of the roof for any home you’re considering. If you’ve never replaced one before, trust us: it can get pricey! We’re talking thousands of dollars. Given the cost involved, you may want to try negotiating to get the sellers to replace it for you.
3) Foundation cracks
Chances are, the home you’re considering will have some cracks in its foundation. Those that run vertically are common, and they’re usually nothing to worry about. But horizontal cracks may be a sign of something more serious. The good news is, a foundation expert can tell you how structurally sound a home actually is—before you sign that purchase agreement. Once you’ve read your report, feel free to follow up with your inspector about any foundation cracks they may have found. If there’s any uncertainty, bringing in a specialist may be your best bet.
4) Outdated wiring
Faulty wiring is a leading cause of house fires. Fortunately, an inspector can help you figure out whether the home you’re considering is at higher-than-average risk. The biggest thing to look out for is knob and tube wiring. This method is no longer used for new houses, though it can still be found in a lot of older homes. We want to stress that knob and tube wiring isn’t always dangerous—it’s only when it’s poorly maintained or repaired using DIY methods that issues can arise.
Wondering what your property’s “grading” is? It has to do with the slope of your land and the direction that water runs in. This isn’t just about how your landscaping looks. Improper grading can lead to pooled water around your home, foundation problems, and even basement flooding. To avoid these issues, be sure to ask your home inspector if you have any unanswered questions about a home’s drainage and grading.