The Most Common Problems Found During Home Inspections

Ron Costa  |  March 24, 2022

Buying

Before you commit to purchasing your dream home, you should first conduct a thorough home inspection. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of homeownership, yet one of the most important.

When done right, home inspections could help you uncover possible pest infestations, mold, faulty wiring, and plumbing problems. Some of these issues may seem minor, but they could be life-threatening and should be taken seriously. For instance, faulty wires have been known to cause fires.

On average, home inspections can cost between $300-$450 but are a worthwhile investment. They should give you an evaluation of the entire house — from the roof to the basement. Unfortunately, most home inspections only cover visual cues and don’t do an in-depth exam such as; checking inside walls, inside pipes, behind electric panels, and inside chimneys.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the most common problems found during a home inspection.

1. Faulty Wiring

 

Here’s a sobering fact: it is estimated that there are 51,000 home fires caused by electrical wiring issues every year.

This is why it’s critical that you pay attention to your house's electrical wiring before you move in. The good news is that if you buy a modern home, you won't have to deal with outdated wiring.

All the same, ask your home inspector to look for any issues that need to be fixed before purchasing the house. Then, conduct a cost analysis to determine whether you should move on with the sale.

Some of the common electrical issues you should watch out for include:

  • Exposed or frayed wires
  • Painted outlets that can lead to overheating
  • Aluminum wiring, most common in houses built in the late '60s and early '70s
  • Improper modification of electrical panels

In some cases, if the wiring is too damaged, you'll have to rewire the entire house, which can be expensive.

2. Termite Damage

 

Termites can be a menace, especially to wooden structures. It’s estimated that these pests cause damage to about 600,000 homes in the US yearly, with a large percentage being in Southern California.

A comprehensive home inspection should help you determine the extent of the house’s termite damage. Fortunately, the early stages of termite damage can be fixed and controlled quickly before the damage becomes extensive.

The main signs of a termite infestation in the house are; dry wood rot, soft/wet wood, small molds in the corners of the house that look like sawdust, and the presence of mud tubes in the soil inside or near the house.

These wood-loving insects often feed on houseplants, wood, and dead leaves. They are primarily active during spring and feed on the wood from the inside, causing wood rot which is dangerous. It can cause decay and collapse of the roof, unstable deck, and collapsing floors which can be fatal.

Wood rot can be in the form of;

Dry wood rot - In this case, the surface of the wood appears dry, but upon further inspection, you will find that the cellulose has been broken down by the termites causing it to crumble.

White rot - wood with white rot has a white, spongy appearance and is very easy to spot.

One of the first places that the home inspector will check for termites is the basement. This is because this area often has a moist environment, which creates the perfect environment for termites. Basements are also secluded, making them the perfect home for termites.

3. Mold

 

Mold is directly tied to ventilation issues. In some cases, it’s an indication of a plumbing problem and should be fixed before it gets out of hand.

This fungus is commonly found in the bathroom, kitchen, and basement — basically anywhere with a lot of moisture is a prime spot for mold.

Unfortunately, it is not always visible to the naked eye and can grow without being noticed. In some rare cases, people with a strong sense of smell can detect mildew when it is present in the air.

Mold growth often results in health issues such as respiratory problems, coughing, and sore throat. It can also trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, and in some cases, asthmatic attacks may occur.

Some of the signs home inspectors look for to determine the presence of mold include:

  • A musty smell
  • Warping of building materials such as wood and tiles
  • Visible mold on walls and surfaces

As tempting as it may seem, it’s not advisable to remove the mold on your own. Make sure you hire a professional.

4. Improper Yard Grading

 

The landscape of southern California is unique, but it can also cause yard grading problems during your home inspection.

Yard grading is the amount of slope in the area surrounding your home. Ideally, the slope should face away from your house as this allows the water to flow away from it instead of towards it.

A reverse slope, on the other hand, can lead to rainwater flooding the foundation of your house. This could cause cracks in the foundation, mold growth, and shifting of your home’s foundation, which can be very costly to fix.

Ideally, the yard grading of your home should range from 3% to 5% slope away from the property. The land should also drop by two or three inches for every two or three feet you step away from your property.

A home inspector can tell whether your home has an improper grading if the:

  • Windows are not perfectly square and appear tilted
  • Floors appear to slope to either side of the house
  • Doors swing from one side to the other when left open

If the home inspection only yields a poor yard grade with no foundational damage, there is no reason to forgo the purchase of the house. You can always hire landscapers to fix this.

On average, regrading a yard costs about $976 to $3,030, but this is dependent on the size of the yard and the amount of work that needs to be done.

5. Plumbing Defects

 

Plumbing issues are prevalent in most homes. However, homeowners often don’t realize that they have a problem since, most of the time, it may be in the form of low water pressure or slow drainage.

Some of the things your home inspector will pay attention to when checking for plumbing issues include;

  • Flushing of the toilets
  • Checking whether the drains work properly
  • Checking whether there is any problem with the taps and sinks

The good news is that these problems can be easily fixed, especially if the damage is not extensive. 

6. Roof Issues

 

Most roofs often last for around 30 years but require regular maintenance & replacement. Unfortunately, roof issues are hard to spot when touring a potential home. So unless you go up there and inspect it, you might live with the problem until the roof collapses on your home. Hiring a home inspector prevents this from happening.

 Some of the most common roof issues are;

  • Worn out roofs
  • Improper installation of the roofing materials
  • Leaks
  • Sagging
  • Mold growth
  • Aged roof
  • Broken or missing parts of the roof

Your home inspection report should cover these specific problems and the extent of the damage. This way, you’re able to make an informed decision on whether you should purchase the house.

Keep in mind that the average cost of fixing roof damage ranges from $150-$7,000. Depending on the extent of the damage, you could either opt to fix it or walk away from the sale.

7. Asbestos

 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made of heat-resistant fibers. It was a popular roof material before the 80s but is now heavily regulated and mainly limited to commercial and industrial construction.

Asbestos is rarely found in most modern homes, but it's important that you run a thorough inspection of the house. This is because this material is poisonous and can lead to fatal issues such as lung cancer if you’re exposed to it in large amounts.

If the home inspector finds traces of asbestos in the house, they will look for disturbed areas where the asbestos has crumbled to ascertain the extent of the threat.

To deal with asbestos, in most cases, you might need to do away with all appliances that have traces of it. You could also encapsulate it with a sealant to bind the asbestos together so that it doesn't crumble or get in the air.

8. Foundation Issues

 

Your house is only as strong as the foundation. Interestingly, home foundations are one of the most problematic home inspection issues because they are very expensive to fix.

Foundation flaws can be due to;

  • Poor drainage. This is often caused by the yard grading being off, resulting in water settling near the house's foundation.
  • Extensive tree roots that cause the floor to crack
  • Adding a second story on a structure that’s meant to support a single-story house
  • Not reinforcing the foundation with steel

One of the main signs of foundation damage is cracks in the walls. However, vertical cracks, which are common in most homes, might not be an indication of something serious. Inspectors mostly pay attention to horizontal cracks since they are usually a sign of a significant structural problem.

Fixing foundation issues could cost thousands of dollars which is why you should never forego an extensive home inspection before buying a house.

9. Radon

 

Radon gas is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. It is released as a byproduct when uranium in soil breaks down and is colorless and odorless, which makes it hard to detect. So, testing your home for radon is the only way to determine its presence.

The inspector uses a radon test kit to check for this gas. This kit is then sent to the appropriate laboratories to determine the radon levels in the house.

Some of the factors that often cause a higher risk of radon exposure include:

Foundation type - If a house is built with dirt floors or the basements have no concrete foundation, there is nothing to prevent the seepage of radon gas from the soil.

Cracks in the foundation - they provide entry points for radon gas into the house.

Well water - If the water in the home is sourced from a well, ensure you get the radon levels in the wells checked.

Radon gas is responsible for approximately 200,000 lung cancer deaths. Unfortunately, the symptoms of radon exposure can take a considerable amount of time to manifest, which means that by the time you realize it, it may be too late to do anything about it.

So, if the inspection report indicates a high amount of radon gas, make sure you purchase a radon mitigation system. It typically costs between $771 to $3,000, depending on the size of the property, and is a worthwhile investment.

10. Poor Ventilation

 

While it is very unlikely to encounter ventilation issues in new houses, if you’re buying an older home, you should include it in your home inspection checklist. This is because poor ventilation results in moisture buildup, which encourages mold growth, termite infestation, wood rot, and some foundation issues.

Ventilation issues can also lead to heat buildup in your home. This temperature rise might then send your cooling system into overdrive resulting in energy efficiency. Fortunately, poor ventilation is often easy to fix and, in some cases, can be done by simply adding more windows in the house.

Get Your Home Inspected Today!

 

A home inspection is very crucial when buying a house. It gives you insights into the home's issues, allowing you to learn of any flaws before purchasing it.

Potential buyers can also use the home inspection report to negotiate a lower price for the house. Then, the money saved on the purchase can go into fixing the discovered faults.

If you intend to buy a house in the Long Beach real estate market, having an experienced agent who also offers home inspections could make your journey much easier.

Ron Costa is a Long Beach real estate agent with many years of experience. He ensures that your home inspection report comes with a well-detailed report of all the issues found in a house, even those that aren't immediately noticeable.

Protect your investment. Contact Ron Costa for guidance on your next home purchase.

Updated March 24, 2022


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Ron Costa is the premier real estate broker in Long Beach and has helped hundreds of buyers find their dream home throughout Southern California, resulting in over 200 closed transactions since he began his career.