Prepare for Your Home Inspection

Today’s Buyers Want to Know Everything About Your Home

The majority of new home purchasers will hire a professional home inspector to ensure the home they are purchasing is all they expect it to be.  Will the roof end up leaking? Is the wiring safe? What about the plumbing?  These are some of the questions that the buyers looking at your home will seek professional help to answer.

We have identified 10 of the most common issues

Some home buyers will conduct visual inspection  using these items as a base line inspection.  Knowing what you’re looking for can help you spot those “Deal Breaker” deficiencies.

10 Typical Items that may affect your Home Inspection.

1.  Plumbing Defects

Leaking Drain in Crawl SpacePlumbing will usually fail due to clogging or leaking. A quick inspection by the home owner can detect leaking or loose fixtures, which may only require a re-securing to repair. Older homes sometimes have galvanized plumbing which most insurance companies will not insure unless replaced.  If you only have a couple of areas of galvanized plumbing in your home it would be worthwhile having replaced prior to inspection.  Crawl spaces can have leaking plumbing drains that have gone undetected.  Some home owners will add a bathroom without installing proper venting.  Other deficiencies can include items like using a 90 elbow instead of a Tee Y for toilet drain.   We can ensure all these items are installed properly during your home inspection.

2. Water in Basement

Water Penetration in BasementA professional Home Inspector will check your walls for signs of water penetration, usually a powdery white mineral deposit a few inches off the floor, and will look to see if you feel secure enough to store things like cardboard boxes and pictures, right on your basement floor. A mildew odor is almost impossible to eliminate, and an home inspector will certainly be conscious of it.  Placing items in front of foundation cracks is like magnet for most professional home inspectors, who typically will look at these areas first.

It could cost you up to $700.00 to seal a single crack in your basement foundation professionally. Many home owners fail to check their sump pump, which may not operate or can have noisy bushings and will require replacement, install new pump, which can run from $80 to $120 dollars, prior to your home inspection and eliminate a problem being listed on your homes report.

Many damp basements are caused by poor drainage from either poor grading or damaged downspouts.  Your home’s exterior grading should permit water to run away from your house and foundation.  Many home owners build planters and gardens around their home which can retain water and allow it to drain down foundation wall.  If you have an existing low area, fill it with soil to ensure proper grade for drainage.  Do not use gravel or other coarse material as it will only allow water to penetrate to existing grade and may even actually trap water rather than allowing it to drain.  Check your downspouts and ensure that the extensions and splash pads allow water to drain away from your home.  An inch of rain could allow as much as 700 gallons of water to discharge from your homes downspouts.  Proper downspout extensions will  carry water away from your foundation.

3. Electrical Service and Aluminum Wiring

aluminum wiring in Angus HomeYour home should have a minimum of 100 amps service, and this should be clearly marked. Insurance companies will typically decline to insure homes with services less than 100 amps.  Many home owners are nervous about buying a home with aluminum wiring and you will have to find an insurance company willing to insure you.  If you only have a couple of circuits of aluminum wiring it is worth while having the aluminum replaced with copper prior to listing your home.  The most common electrical problems are “double taps” on main panels and poorly installed electrical wiring and fixtures.  If you have any of these problems it would be prudent to have  licensed electrician inspect and repair this issues prior to home inspection.

The most common defect found in inspecting homes in Barrie On is electrical work which was performed without an electrical permit or inspection.  Some easy to spot defects that indicate no permit are:  double taps on panel,  un-secured electrical wiring, improperly drilled holes in structural joists for cable installation,  lack of required grommets in steel stud construction, junction boxes missing covers and openings on main electrical panel.  Electrical wiring done without expertise or inspection can be a very serious problem that can be expensive to correct if wiring is installed behind finished walls.

Many older homes in Barrie may have a new 100 amp rated electrical panel but may only have a main disconnect switch rated for 60 amps.  This means there is only 60 amp service available for home which will not meet requirements of most insurance companies.  Some people will even take power of the supply side of panel bypassing breaker or fuse protection.  This is both illegal and unsafe.

4. Heating & Cooling Systems

Disconnected vent in attic of Angus homeA poorly functioning heating system is the most common causes of inefficient heating. In older heating systems a blue flame will indicate good combustion while orange or yellow flame will indicate poor combustion. The home  inspector will note your furnaces age to see if it is over its typical life span of 15-25 yrs.  Check your furnace filter to ensure it is clean.  If your furnace if noisy, dirty or has poor visible flame you should have it maintenance by a gas technician  prior to selling home and keep receipt for potential buyers for any work performed.

Many furnaces are installed with Fresh Air Mix boxes which allow a continuous supply of fresh air to be drawn into your furnace.  When hooking up a central air conditioner most installers do not bother installing a damper control on the Fresh Air Mix Box, which can lower the efficiency of your air conditioner by as much as 30 percent.  The Fresh Air Mix Box operates anytime the furnace is running and would draw in hot humid air from the outside continually while central air conditioner is running.  The cost of not installing a damper is considerable when considering the cost of hydro and lack of cooling as a consequence.

5. Roofing Problems

damaged shinglesWater leakage through the roof can occur for a variety of reasons such as physical deterioration of the asphalt shingles (newer shingles are fiberglass), or mechanical damage from a wind storm. Many homebuyers will attempt to save money by having new shingles installed over the old ones.  While saving a small amount of money this deficiency will be noted on your home inspection report and the buyer informed of the extra labour costs and disposal fees that you are just passing along to them.  When selling your home refrain from taking short cuts on maintenance and repairs which will show up in home inspection report as a deficiency because of poor workmanship or inferior repairs.  Some home owners will only shingle part of their roof when they know they are going to be selling,  this is a bad idea as the home buyer will take that into consideration when making an offer.  It could also give the impression that other repairs were not properly done when required.

If you have a lot of trees around, consider upgrading to architectural style of shingles, many of which, now contain and anti-fungus inhibitor to prevent un-slightly staining of shingles.  Also it is wise to replace any worn or damaged flashing when replacing shingles.  Inspecting a new roof which has poorly installed flashings and valleys indicates poor maintenance of home and could be used as an indicator of how home owner maintains the rest of the house.

6. Attic Insulation and Ventilation

Issues with ventilation, insulation and vapor barriers can cause water, moisture, mold and mildew to form in the attic. This can lead to premature wear of the roof, structure and building materials. Ice damming is a common occurrence on older homes and is the result of the combination of poor ventilation with the lack of adequate insulation.  Missing soffit baffles can also cause this problem which can be damaging to shingles at the edges of your roof and can cause water leaks in home.  A big problem often found in attics is asbestos insulation.  Vermiculite insulation,  especially from Libby Montana mine, can contain asbestos.  The only way to determine whether vermiculite contains asbestos is to have it tested by a recognized laboratory.  Having a Certificate readily available declaring your insulation to be asbestos free can be a very positive sales aid for prospective buyers who may not want to wait for their own vermiculite test to make a decision on buying your home.

7. Exterior Wood Trim and Decks

The most common places where rotting wood is found is around your doors and windows.  Older garage wood doors may have wood rot if not properly maintained.  Exposed wood frames on windows and doors will be checked for wood rot and caulking during a home inspection.  The inspector will look closely at any un-even surfaces or areas that have been freshly painted.  Replacing or professionally repairing areas of damaged wood will return a far better result versus a home inspection report detailing areas of rotting wood on the exterior of your home.  Buyers tend to balk at investing in a property where they may be required to start replacing windows and doors as soon as they purchase the property.  Landscaping beams are very prone to failure from moisture.  Check your landscaping materials and replace any rotted or defective beams prior to your home inspection.

Building Departments are becoming more stringent in Deck Building requirements.  A building permit is required for any deck over 10 m2.  Concrete piers a minimum of 4 feet below grade and belled out at bottom.  Deck blocks may used for support as long as structure is not attached to the ground and is not above 2 feet above grade. Common problems for decks built without a permit are:  improper fastening to house,  no guardrails on stairs,  stairs are not uniform in height and minimum post size of 6X6.  These are some of the minimum requirements for decks built in Barrie ON.

8. Masonry and Foundations

A visual inspection of your exterior brick should quickly turn up any damaged brick or missing mortar.  Brick under window sills are usually susceptible to moisture damage if brick or concrete sills have cracked or missing joint seals. If you have any brick damaged by spalling or foundation movement it would be advisable to have them repaired prior to listing.  Large step cracks in brick mortar indicated settlement of foundation and could raise concerns from potential buyers if not repaired.  If you have a masonry chimney have the brick, liner and cap inspected by a WETT certified inspector prior to listing.  A  chimney can have many maintenance issues which will be found by the Home Inspector but not be visible from the ground.

Horizontal cracks in concrete or masonry block foundations can be an indication of serious foundation issues with movement.  Horizontal cracks are caused by stress and will require expert and most likely expensive repairs to correct.  Vertical concrete cracks may allow water or moisture to enter basement and may require repair by foam or epoxy injection.  Exterior of foundation may have to be excavated and foundation water proofed in extreme cases.

9. Under Size Service or  Over-fused Electrical Circuit

A fire hazard is created when more amperage is drawn on the circuit than was intended. 15 amp circuits are the most common in a typical home, with larger service for large appliances such as stoves and dryers. The average fused circuit is 14-2 which will only support a 15 amp fuse.  If you have a 20 or 30 amp fuse in a regular circuit then your circuit is not protected from possible fire or short circuit protection.  Call a licensed electrician to either upgrade circuit or add a circuit which will make your panel safe.

Century homes can also have Knob and Tube wiring.  This type of wiring is usually replaced in most homes but there is occasions where there are still some live knob and tube circuits are still live.  Most of the knob and tube live circuits are usually found in attic or basement ares where access is very difficult or it was thought to be unlikely to be discovered.   Most insurance companies will require all knob and tube wiring to be replaced with conventional wiring prior to issuing a homeowners policy.

10. Windows and Doors

During your Home Inspection all your windows and doors will be operated to ensure that locks work and they open and close smoothly.  All glass and screens will also be checked for damage.  If you thermal windows have leaking seals invest in replacing glass units, which is typically around $60 for basement and $80 to $100 for normal size casement if you take unit to store.  Some home sellers will try and save money by having company drill holes in glass units to remove fog but you just end up with a broken unit which will be noted in the inspection report.  It is better to invest your money in a professional repair than spending almost as much on a band aid solution.

 

CertifiedCertified Master Inspector for AngusWhen you put your home on the market, you don’t want any surprises that could cost you the sale of your home.  Contact the your local professional if you have any questions concerning this article or your Home Inspection.

Review List

The most expensive items to watch out for are:  Furnace with cracked heat exchanger, Faulty Central Air Conditioner,  Asbestos or Aluminum Wiring,  Water in Basement, Horizontal Foundation Cracks, Under Sized Electrical Service, Galvanized Plumbing, Knob and Tube Wiring and Leaking Thermal Seals in Windows