7 Common Things That Fail a Home Inspection

November 19, 2021 | Written By: Emma Jones

No one but the government can declare a house un-livable, so the home inspector can't really fail or pass the home. When we speak about the things that fail a home inspection, we think about all those defects that raise a red flag with homebuyers. An inspector is there to point out possible issues, a contractor is there to verify and fix them, but only you can decide if the house is worth your effort or failed the test.

Home inspection: does it pay off?

Buying a house, especially for first-time homebuyers, is the biggest and most significant investment. Considering the risks that follow such important purchases, caution is not only expected but welcome. Even if the home inspection reveals only minor problems, there isn't any doubt about its value for the buyer.

However, most of the time, home inspections expose serious core issues that are not visible to the naked eye. Also, an inspector will easily discern if a certain home fixture or system isn't by the code. Detecting such issues before you start price negotiations can save you tens of thousands of dollars.

To more experienced buyers and house flipping experts, a home inspection gives an insight into the expected return on investment. It makes it easier to determine if the remodelling adds significant resale value or the house is a hopeless money pit. There are seven important signs that a property is not as good as it seems.

1. Cracked foundation and structural flaws

All homes settle over time, but not all cracks pose a safety problem. The possibility of an issue due to settling depends on the ground they're built on and the size and age of the house. And while cracks in the floor and walls are easy to spot, not all structural issues manifest visibly. There may be damage caused by earthquakes or sinkholes, or DIY renovations that weren't exactly by the code. An experienced local inspector will quickly notice and point out these issues.

2. Old plumbing and water-related problems

Historic homes and poorly maintained houses share one thing - an old plumbing system. Defective plumbing is often a cause of internal leaking, rot in wooden elements, and other issues that stem from moisture build-up. While leaky faucets require an inexpensive fix and low water pressure is easy to solve with a pump or aerator, replacing old pipes will require a bigger investment. Either on your or the seller's part.

A home inspection will show if the moisture level in walls, floors, and ceilings is any cause for concern, unless there are quite obvious signs like water stains, cracks around the pipes, or mold patches. The more humid the climate, the more reason for caution when investing in real estate.

3. Roofing issues and poor attic insulation

Defective roofing is a source of numerous other potential problems, like water leaks, rotting wood, rodent infestation, and degraded attic insulation. Water stains on the top floor ceiling are a sign that the roof and attic insulation have deteriorated.

An inspection will determine the cause and scope of damage, and the roofing contractor will estimate the repair costs. You may choose to negotiate these expenses into the offer for the house or give up altogether. Where there is a costly roof renovation, there are also other related things that fail a home inspection.

4. Mold

Inspecting your new home for mold is a must if you're moving in with kids. Mold is known to induce asthma, headaches, and other health issues. Hence, the last thing you'd want to do is expose your loved ones and yourself to it. Home relocation is by default difficult for children, so make this change easy on them and ensure their new home is a dream come true, not a nightmare.

Luckily, mold and mildew are easy to spot, although they take time and effort to eradicate. The best course of action? If the issue is localized, it may be worth hiring specialists to remove mold professionally. However, if the mold has spread throughout the house, just turn and leave.

5. Rodent infestations

Just like mold, rodent infestations are easy to detect. The consequences of the damage they cause often induce costly repairs. Doors and windows that are difficult to open, pinholes in the wallpaper, mud tubes, crumbling baseboards, and bubbles in wood flooring are some of the signs that indicate the presence of rodents or other infestations.

On the other hand, rodents like mice, rats, and squirrels are responsible for degraded attic insulation, deterioration of wood elements, and even issues with the electrical system. The longer the issue has been left unattended, the more serious structural damage. Mold and rodent infestations combined cause a safety hazard that deters homebuyers more than all other things that fail a home inspection.

6. Electrical issues

The electrical system needs to be in excellent condition and there is no alternative. When owners dabble in wiring, it often leads to over-fusing which causes wire overheating that results in an electrical fire. Ensuring that the installations are safe and by the code is critical.

In case they aren't, an expensive out-and-out replacement is in order. It includes breaking walls and extensive (and expensive) repairs, but only if you're allowed by authorities to conduct such a major renovation project. Keep in mind that historic homes that often come with historic wiring fall under strict building regulations.

7. Asbestos and lead paint

As long as there are houses built before the 1980s, there will be a reason to expect asbestos and lead-based paint issues. Much has been said about the carcinogenic effect of asbestos-rich dust to ignore that. The use of lead paint was banned in 1978, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't lie under a more recent coat.

The chipping of deteriorated surfaces covered in lead-based paint produces dust that, when inhaled, causes health issues. Lead and asbestos poisoning are still relevant, although not all home inspectors will look for these materials. It is simply because special licensing is needed. Should you detect their presence and decide to remove them after buying a home, prepare for a costly project.

When you consider all these things that fail a home inspection for the average homebuyer, it's time to ask yourself: how high is your threshold?