Five significant inspection concerns.Deferred maintenance:
One of the most common issues is deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance can be present in the exterior or interior systems and components. These can include rotted trim, paints, old failing siding, failing gutters, and poorly maintained roofs. Algae, wind, and tree branch damage are common roof culprits. Overgrown vegetation and dead tree growth can be an unexpected expense for a buyer. Water damage is one of the most common areas of deferred maintenance, which can also affect some loans such as FHA or VA. With wood destroying insect damage, the extent of the damage may take time to be apparent. Pest intrusion and nesting, such as mice, rodents, snakes, and other animals, may be a big concern and deal breaker for many buyers.
Non-accessible areas, including garages, basements, and attics, are always a concern due to limitations. The common problem is more access to electrical panels, furnaces, water heaters, sump pumps, and other systems. A more significant concern would be non-accessible crawlspaces due to the risk of concealed defects such as water and insect damage. A non-accessible crawlspace can also be a concern for future service and access for plumbing, electrical, annual pest intrusions, and insulation. These areas are often prone to damp conditions that cannot be accessed for inspections or repairs.
Nonprofessional or permitted improvements:
Nonprofessional repairs or modifications can be one of the biggest concerns for many buyers. Amateur repairs can indicate the lack of permitted and the lack of licensed contractors performing repairs and updating. Nonprofessional repairs can void many manufacturer warranties and may adversely affect the function and safety of many systems and components. Unpermitted work may have to be opened, updated, or reinspected in some cases. We have seen building permits to tear down illegal additions. Some waterfronts or critical areas may have additions, decks, or impervious surfaces in violation of setback and may have to be removed.
Product recalls and failures:
Some product failures and recalls can be a costly expense many buyers are not aware of and may not be able to afford financially. These may include polybutylene plumbing, Federal pacific, and Zinco Electrical panels. Other concerns can be Omega sprinkler heads, Aluminum solid strand wiring in some southern states' Chinese drywall. Another potentially large expense can be EIFS or Drivit, a synthetic stucco.
When there are older systems and components in the home, many buyers may not have the resources to replace them. The big ones are the roof, HVAC, water heaters antiquated plumbing systems such as galvanized, lead piping, and Orangeburg waste lines. Older electrical concerns would be the knob and tube, rag wire, and fuses. With these, some lenders and insurance companies may require updating in order to loan or insure the property.
Some common environmental concerns may be easy to correct such as radon. Other environmental concerns may be more difficult to correct such as asbestos, mold, buried oil tanks, VOCs, and lead paint.
Stephen Lee Showalter, NACHI® CMI, ASHI ACI
Home Inspector, Environmental Consultant
Maryland State Home Inspector License #29634
ASHI ACI Certified Membership
NACHI® CMI Certified Master Inspector
InterNACHI® CPI Certified Membership
Certified Commercial Property Inspector Association
FAA Certified UAS Pilot #3987636
CRT Certified Residential Thermographer