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The 10 Most Common Home Concerns

Buyers and sellers may believe that every home is unique, but home inspectors find that most homes’ defects are strikingly similar. In fact, there are 10 common home defects that inspectors can typically identify. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them so you can learn to recognize signs of trouble that an inspector might identify and start planning ahead for repairs or work you might need to do if you buy a property with some of the most common issues.

Here’s a look at the ten most common home defects identified by inspectors:

  1. Poor drainage: Inspectors will review whether water moves away from the house properly and whether the roof needs new gutters and downspouts or if ground-level drainage systems have been properly graded.
  2. Faulty electrical wiring: If electrical wiring hasn’t been properly installed or grounded, a home may be vulnerable to fire and inhabitants may risk electrical shock. Older homes often need electrical upgrades, including new wiring and circuit breaker panels which replace old-fashioned fuse boxes.
  3. A leaking roof: Leaking roofs result from poor flashing (intersections where parts of the roof are joined) or aging shingles and roofing materials. If the roof has leaked, repairs could range from minor (replacing shingles) to extensive (replacing an entire roof).
  4. An aging or defective heating system: Older heating systems require maintenance and may be energy-inefficient. Non-electrical heating systems also run the risk of emitting carbon monoxide fumes, making a carbon monoxide detector advisable.
  5. Poor maintenance: A do-it-yourself seller’s bandaid fixes to plumbing, electrical or other problems can sometimes do more harm than good.
  6. Structural damage: A leaking roof or settling foundation may mean doorways, walls and support beams are off-kilter. You’ll need to fix these problems to remain safe.
  7. Plumbing problems: Inspectors look for faulty pipes and fixtures, and also look at whether plumbing parts are made of compatible materials. Leak-prone polybutylene (PB) plumbing pipes, popular in the 1970s till the mid-1990s, may have to be replaced.
  8. Water seepage through windows and doors: If there’s evidence of water damage or intrusion, then re-caulking windows and doors, adding weather-stripping or other more extensive repairs may be necessary.
  9. Poor ventilation:  If moisture has accumulated in a home, it may be most obvious in bathrooms. Installing ventilation fans and keeping windows open can help, but buyers may find they need to replace walls or other structural aspects of a home.
  10. Hazardous materials: Older homes may contain lead-based paint and asbestos materials. Depending on structure and climate, homes may also contain unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide, radon gas, or toxic molds. Homes with oil heat typically store fuel in underground tanks which need to be checked for leakage.