Your Home: The most common (and avoidable) home inspection dings


By Chad Taylor

After 14 years in the wonderful business of real estate sales, I have seen my fair share of inspection reports. I remember early in my career as a Realtor feeling the shudder of fear when I received the inspection results on one of my earlier listings. Inspections can make or break a real estate sale — especially when you specialize in the resale of homes built in the mid-1950s.

Fast forward to today, and I welcome inspections on our listings. One of the reasons is that we perform pre-inspections on all of our listings and have done so for about two years now. Over the years, I have come to realize that one of my jobs as a listing specialist is set the stage for the entire selling process from day one. Part of setting the stage and clear expectations is to help the seller see their home as the buyer will see it. For most of my clients, the sale of their home is very personal for them. And in some cases they may wear “rose colored glasses” when they look at their current home. Said glasses prevent them from seeing some of the deficiencies that need to be addressed.

A pre-inspection is one of the first steps toward separating yourself emotionally from your current home which then allows a seller to see the repairs that need to be done to prepare for the open market. When selling a home I have found that the best offense is a good defense.

This week, I thought it might be useful to discuss some of the observations that come up consistently on most home inspections. I reached out to my good friend and trusted partner, Mike Faulconer with The Home Team. Our team has worked with Mike and his team for years. Many of our buyers utilize The Home Team for their whole house inspection when they purchase a home. In addition, Mike’s team performs all of our pre-inspections on our listings. Last year alone, The Home Team performed more than sixty pre-inspections for us so they are quite proficient at what they do.

I asked Mike to share with me some of the “usual suspects” from our pre-inspections and here they are:

Grading and drainage. Good ol’ grading and drainage. We see this come up on almost every inspection. And it does not matter how old the home is for it to be an issue. Properly maintained grading (slope) of the soil away from a home’s foundation and downspout extenders are easy to address and easy to overlook. Yet these two water maintenance items can make or break the life and stability of a home’s foundation. A good rule of thumb is to have an inch of elevation decline every foot for at least six feet or more from the foundation walls. And then make sure that your downspouts aren’t just dumping right next to your home. Even if you have splash blocks receiving the water, get the water far away from your home.

Wood decay on exterior trim. Depending upon your home’s exposure to the sun and how much shade that you have, this one can be a small or big issue. And in most cases, a homeowner does not know the extent of the decay until an inspection is completed. In short, simply call someone who specializes in wood rot and have them evaluate your home prior to selling. Wood rot is not only unattractive, it can allow water to penetrate your exterior which can cause much more serious problems so it is better to catch it early.

Minor electrical repairs. These are pretty easy to address and do not always require an electrician. In most cases these repairs could be installing a cover plate on a junction box or an electrical outlet. Some homeowners and most handymen would be completely comfortable with this repair. Other common electrical issues are electrical splices that are not in a junction box or wires that should be run through conduit for safety reasons. Another common issue is the absence of GFCI outlets, you know the ones with the little buttons in the middle of them. These are required within 6 feet of any water source and are also suggested for any exterior outlet. When in doubt, and for safety and liability reasons, it is always smart to consult a licensed electrician.

Insufficient or missing attic insulation. This one is self explanatory and most prevalent in older homes. Lack of insulation is not a safety issue, but can be a hot button for certain buyers.

Chimney issues. Oh boy! This one can be a big one. If you have a chimney and have not had it inspected recently, I would strongly suggest that you do so. I have written about chimney safety before, therefore I won’t spend too much time on this topic. At a minimum, a seller should have a visual inspection of their chimney completed by an inspector or a licensed chimney sweep to ensure water is not penetrating the exterior of the chimney anywhere. This can happen in many cases without the seller knowing and can then cause other problems. Depending upon how a seller uses the chimney and fireplace, it would be a good idea to consult a Realtor on the potential issues that could come up when selling a home.

Ok, so I have to throw one last item in from my own list. And it makes me laugh almost every time that it comes up: loose toilets. Thats right. Loose toilets. Either the toilet tank is loosely mounted to the base, or the base is loosely mounted to the floor. It is an easy repair and for some reason most sellers never realize that their toilet has a little wobble.