Top 10 Most Common Home Inspection Issues | 2020
At Due North Property Inspection, we find a wide variety of issues and deficiencies while performing home inspections for our clients. These issues can range from major problems related to the structure or foundation of a home, to very minor issues such as a door not latching or a bathroom fan being too noisy. In any case, we thought we would compile a list to help home buyers, sellers, and real estate agents alike clue in on the most common areas where we find and report problems.
- Water Management | When it comes to water management, the grading around the home and the gutter system need to work together to efficiently and effectively carry water drainage away from the home and foundation. When we find evidence of moisture intrusion in a home, most often in the basement, many times we find flat or negative grading in that area of the yard near the home, a gutter nearby with a missing downspout, or even gutters directly overhead that are full of debris and unable to perform as designed. Any of these scenarios can allow water to collect next to the foundation, and if left unaddressed, can lead to some pretty serious problems. The good news is that these are relatively straightforward fixes.
- Driveway & Service Walk Maintenance | Minnesota seasons are hard on both concrete and asphalt. With asphalt driveways, the most common issue is deferred maintenance. As a general rule, homeowners should plan to seal an asphalt driveway every 1 to 3 years, or when you start to see the color of individual stones peaking through. For concrete driveways and service walks, cracking and settling are most common. Sealing any cracks and addressing any areas of settlement right away can help prevent a small issue from turning into a more significant repair or replacement project.
- Roofing Defects | Most homeowners don’t find a need to walk on their roofs or have them inspected, unless a leak develops, or a major storm comes through. We oftentimes find hail damage, broken or missing shingles, flashing that has pulled away, or damage from trees that might be just a bit too close to the home. Any of these can be cause for repair or replacement.
- Missing Smoke & CO Alarms | Similar to GFCI’s, the requirements for Smoke and CO alarm placement throughout our homes has evolved over time. We most often find that homes built to earlier standards have not been updated to meet today’s minimum requirements. Missing smoke alarms in all bedrooms, and missing CO alarms outside any sleeping area and on each floor of the home are most common. Check out the Due North article on Smoke & CO Alarms: 101 for more info on types of alarms and where they need to be placed. Missing smoke or CO alarms will be noted as another Potential Safety Hazard in a home inspection report.
- Lack of GFCI Outlets | GFCI electrical outlets should be installed and operational in any area of the home that has an increased risk of shock due to electrical hazards, such as water. The requirements for GFCI protection in a home have gradually increased over the years, and currently include electrical outlets in all of the following locations: Outdoor Areas, Bathrooms, Garages, Kitchen Countertops, Unfinished Basements and Crawl Spaces, Boathouses, Laundry Areas, and within 6’ of any sink, bathtub or shower stall. Not having functional GFCI’s in these locations can be noted as a Potential Shock & Safety Hazard.
- Furnace Maintenance & Filter | Homeowners often overlook the need to service or clean their furnace and filter on a regular basis – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” While our furnaces may appear to operate properly, the overall performance and lifespan of the equipment, along with the quality of air in a home, can benefit greatly from an annual service check-up and cleaning. It’s also easy to forget to change those filters on a routine basis, as we often find filters that are full of dust and debris.
- Plumbing Problems | Slow-to-drain sinks and tubs and leaky fixtures are common issues that we find, and when left unaddressed, can lead to big headaches. Mineral or scale build-up is another problem we see in certain communities that deal with hard water, which can affect the performance of faucets and shower-heads. We also see a fair amount of DIY plumbing, most often in bathrooms, as evidenced by the use of accordion-style flex drain.
- Attic Insulation & Ventilation | Insufficient insulation levels, missing or displaced insulation, and inadequate attic ventilation are key factors that can affect things like utility bills, the overall comfort of a home, and the performance of the attic. In addition to these issues, we also find baffles that are missing or crushed, preventing proper ventilation in the attic, as well as bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans that are being terminated in the attic space rather than outside.
- Electrical Issues | Many of the electrical issues we find are in older homes and are typically the result of some sort of remodel or update. The power needs for today’s lifestyle is far greater than what it was even as recent as 30 or 40 years ago. We find double-tapped circuits in electrical panels with no room left for expansion, missing clamps and bushings at the main panel, and junction boxes with missing cover plates and exposed wiring. With faulty electrical ranked as the second leading contributing factor behind fires in U.S. homes (source: NFPA), you can be sure electrical issues such as these will show up in the report as a Potential Safety Hazard, and should be addressed immediately.
- Wood Maintenance | Wood products that are exposed to the elements need regular maintenance. We often find decks that haven’t been re-stained or sealed in a few years that show signs of wear and deterioration, or wood siding and trim that has been ignored for too long where the paint is peeling and chipping off, exposing bare wood to the elements. While these issues and the related maintenance are straightforward, they are sometimes the easiest to overlook and defer.
Most of the issues found during a home inspection are due to deferred maintenance or the lifespan of equipment and materials - nothing too exciting. Many of these issues are easily fixable. It’s good to keep in mind that there is a solution to every problem or defect found in a home. As an inspector, our job is to inform you of the current state of a property and make sure there are no big surprises.
If you have comments or questions, or if you have a common defect to add to this list, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!