5 red flags to spot on a home inspection report


There is a certain leap of faith that all buyers take when making an offer for a new home. When the market is particularly competitive, it’s not uncommon for potential buyers to see a property only once before they bid, and then possibly just a few times before it closes.

To mitigate some of the risks involved, a professional home inspection can clear up any less obvious problems with the property so that the buyer is adequately educated about potentially costly problems that exist now or may develop in the future.

What you need to know about home inspections

Home inspections are “a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property, performed for a fee, and aimed at identifying deficiencies in certain systems and components as defined by standards of practice and approved by the inspector,” explains Vincent Fundaro, owner and president of Square One Professional Home Inspectors Inc. based in Levittown, New York.

In addition to a general inspection, there are some specific types of inspections that can be more valuable than others depending on the age, location, architecture, and more of the home.

“A general inspection is a house from top to bottom,” says Feroz Taj, a real estate agent at The Agency in Beverly Hills, California. “But there are a number of more specific inspections that we believe are mandatory, including foundation and drainage, mold, termites, electrical, sewer and chimney. If the house is on a slope, a geological report is important, and of course if there is one Pool, then also a pool inspection. “

This is an important point that buyers should understand: the general inspection report can trigger warning signals that require additional inspections of the roof or HVAC system, for example. Here are five warnings to look out for on your inspection report.

[Read: The Buyer and Seller Guide to a Real Estate Bidding War.]

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1. Existing problems and possible upgrades

Before an inspection, buyers should be prepared to learn that their potential new home is fraught with problems – some of which are expensive, some less so. Recoverable issues can be negotiated in the form of credit to the buyer, or the seller can agree to address those issues directly before closing.

However, other issues that may show up in an inspection report can be considered upgrades and will be more of a buyer’s responsibility or a point of negotiation in the future.

Taj equates buying a house with buying a used car: “You expect performance and safety from a used car.

If safety concerns arise during a home inspection, it can be reason enough to withdraw from the purchase. But upgradeable systems create some gray areas. “For example, the pool heating may be a little too weak. The pool heats up, but not as quickly or efficiently as the buyer would like, ”says Taj. “Most vendors will agree to address security issues or threats, but not upgrades to an older system,” which they think works well.

It can get more complicated, however. “If the roof or HVAC system is at the end of its life but is still working, this can become a more complicated conversation for buyers and sellers about upgrades and the cost of them,” says Taj.

He adds that buyers should be prepared for a sticker shock to fix issues that inevitably show up on an inspection report. But if you really love a house, “time and money can solve almost any problem,” says Taj.

2. Foundation and drainage

A buyer cannot assess the foundation of a building, so it’s one of the most important aspects of an inspection of the house, “says Fundaro.

Easy to fix foundation or drainage problems are generally not a reason to pass a house on, but “if there are problems with the foundation in the foundation it can be a safety problem, and safety problems are often not a cause,” says Taj.

As far as drainage is concerned, “the houses should be installed higher than street level so that there is a gradient and the water drains properly,” says Fundaro. He adds that “we (also) want to make sure that the gutters are set up correctly so that the water cascades away from the house.”

3. Mold

Mold sounds more scary than it is and is usually associated with water damage, which is common in many homes or apartments. Mold may not be an uncommon addition to an inspection report and can often be fixed.

“Failure to remove contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity can pose serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and mold, ”says Fundaro.

4. Termites

Keeping a home completely pest free is difficult, and wood-destroying animals can pose a devastating threat to a home’s structural systems. Termites are not uncommon, especially in older homes, and if an inspection report shows termite infestation, a specialist should be called in to remove it.

An inspector general can look for signs of termite damage, and infrared technology can help look deeper into the structure’s skeletons.

5. Problems with the electrical system

“Electrical wiring that was used in the mid-20th century is no longer OK by today’s standards, and an inspector needs to know this,” says Fundaro. “Houses and their technology have become significantly more demanding in recent years, especially with HVAC and home entertainment systems, and the electrics must be able to handle them.”

[Read: Should I Buy a House Now?]

Is a home inspection required when buying a new home?

In the case of new buildings, questions that arise during an inspection are usually easier for the builder to deal with instead of negotiating with the buyer who should pay the renovation costs, as could be the case with a resale.

“With a new development … you are dealing with a team of specialists who carry out the repairs and who are able to efficiently correct any inconsistencies that arise. They just need to be tracked and managed, ”says Linda Cirgliano, a representative of the owner and founder of LC Three, a construction management consultancy specializing in helping buyers with inspections and hole lists in the world of home redevelopment.

The expectation is that the house should be turnkey – but there are inevitable problems that arise during construction. This can be difficult for buyers to manage and identify, even if they are experienced and savvy.

“Developers should maintain the highest quality control, which equates to price-per-square-foot,” says Cirigliano. “If there are any discrepancies, they must be resolved.”

A building consultant can help maintain a bug list or spot bugs, and hiring one can be a wise upfront expense for buyers who want to avoid costly repairs after the builder moves on.

Adds Cirigliano: “It is beneficial to bring in someone with building knowledge as they can communicate more effectively with the developer and contractors than the average buyer who does not speak the language of the craft and the industry … It is the translation of information that can increase efficiency and get you to the final table faster, but not at the expense of the quality of the work. “

When is a house search not necessary?

A formal home inspection may not be required in certain markets.

For example, when buyers buy a high-rise apartment in New York City, their attorney’s duty of care often includes reading the minutes of board meetings, studying the building’s bid schedule, and talking to the building’s daily manager to learn about the age and condition of the building’s technology and – mechanics.

“The responsibility of the owner of a unit is usually limited to the unit itself, as opposed to the common areas of the building and the spaces between units,” said Andrew Luftig, attorney and partner at Chaves Perlowitz Luftig LLP in New York City. “This means that the buyer is usually able to identify problems within the device without the need for a professional inspection.”

If problems occur with the roof or the boiler of a large building, these are logged and the associated repair costs are distributed among the many residents of the building. The buyer should be made aware of any major problems with the building and so make informed decisions, but many of these points are ultimately not the seller’s responsibility, as it might be when transferring a single family home.

“The contract offers additional protection, as sellers usually guarantee that the equipment, electricity, plumbing, air conditioning and heating systems are in order at the time of the conclusion,” says Luftig. “Buyers confirm such representations by performing a final inspection and testing the above systems prior to closure. In the event of a malfunctioning device or system, the buyer’s attorney may negotiate a repair, credit, or escrow, depending on the extent of the Problems. “

[Read: What is the Maximum Price I Can Afford for a House?]

However, if someone wants to buy a single family home, they are solely responsible, financially and otherwise, to correct any problems that may arise.

“When a house has a lot of problems it can become a long-term financial burden,” says Fundaro. “Buyers should know what they are getting into and an inspection report can shed the necessary light on the potential problems that may arise in the future.”

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