by Chris Penny
on Monday, July 13th, 2015 at 7:30am.
The point of a home inspection is to uncover any issues that the home may have. Obviously, it's very important for both a home’s seller and prospective buyer that the property pass the inspection. Passing means no serious issues have been discovered. A house inspection is simply a visual evaluation of its condition. Think of it as being similar to an annual checkup. A failed inspection is kind of like uncovering something bad during your physical. Just like your doctor, the inspector will point out all the things that need to be repaired or replaced.
What is Covered in an Inspector's Report?
This will vary depending on the inspector; however, most inspection reports will tell you about the condition of the following areas:
The heating and cooling equipment
The plumbing and electrical wiring
The roof and attic
The inspector's job description does not include advising their clients on whether or not to buy the house. They simply provide the information clients can use to make an educated decision.
Failing a Home Inspection
The areas that cause the most trouble on a home inspection report are those that compromise the health and safety of people living in the home. Here are some examples of ways that a home could fail an inspection:
1. Moisture in the Basement: Water intrusion is a possibility in most basements simply because they are below ground level. Water in the soil puts pressure on basement walls and since it follows the path of least resistance, will cause a wet basement over time. A damp basement can cause spalling in concrete, brick or stone and it can cause mold as well. Solutions range from redirecting gutters to installing a sump pump in the basement.
2. HVAC Problems: HVAC systems are the source of many problems uncovered by home inspectors. For example, the home's wiring may not be sufficient to handle the demands of the heating and cooling equipment, gas-fired furnaces may not have adequate exhaust systems in place. Other problems include cracked ductwork and flue pipes that have not been correctly installed.
3. Roofing Problems: This is one of the more expensive problems to fix and is likely to be a deal breaker for potential buyers. As roofing materials age, they are more likely to break down causing leaks and water damage; furthermore, they tend to age more quickly if they are not correctly installed. For example, asphalt and wood shingles can cup or curl due to age.
4. Moisture Problems in the Attic: Poor insulation, ventilation or vapour barriers can lead to moisture in the attic. Moisture in the attic can cause mold and mildew to grow. Solving the problem involves finding and fixing the source of the moisture.
5. Electrical Issues: A home's electrical service should meet current standards. Electrical problems inspectors often encounter include overfusing, which is the term used for a mismatch between the wire and the overcurrent protection. Overfused circuits can cause fires.
6. Rotting Wood: Any wood used in the home's construction can be affected by moisture and age. This includes your wooden decks and door frames. Inspectors will check wood surfaces in the home for rot.
7. Security Issues: This is not about your security system; this part of an inspection involves checking out your more basic safety features. An inspector will look for proper window and door locks as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
8. Problems with the Structure and/or Foundation: One of the basic facts of construction is the fact that a stable foundation is essential to the building's structure. The inspector will look at the footing and foundation of the home. Signs of foundation issues include cracks in walls and doors that fail to latch or that jam.
9. Plumbing Problems: It's rare for an inspector not to not find at least one plumbing problem. These can include anything from dripping faucets to slow drains. Fortunately, these issues are usually easy and inexpensive to fix. It's major ones you need to worry about.
10. Defective Masonry: Chimney cracks are among the most common masonry problems. In most cases, these occur over time due to the weather. If the inspector discovers cracks that start at the chimney's base and go upward, there could be a serious structural problem.
The good news about a failed home inspection is that almost any problem can be fixed. Mold can be remediated and a qualified electrician can remove and replace amateur wiring. The best option for a seller who has had problems uncovered by an inspection is have them fixed. The other option is to not fix the issues and to sell the home at a lower price. The problem with that second option is that the seller may inadvertently discount the home for more than the cost of repairing the issues. Also, homebuyers may be reluctant to invest in a property that will need immediate repairs.