The home inspection is usually the first major hurdle in your real-estate transaction. A lot of contracts fall through at this stage. Either the buyers get scared by a huge hidden issue or the two sides can’t work out the list of repairs.
Nervous yet? You shouldn’t be (too much). The most common home inspection issues are usually cheap and easy to fix. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of what I see all the time.
1. Loose Outlet Receptacle
This happens when the outlet box is not completely secured to the wall. So it shifts around when you plug and unplug devices. The concern is that the wires could eventually move and create a shocking hazard. The fix is usually as easy as fastening the bolts holding the box in place.
However, every time you’re dealing with electricity, there is risk of injury or death. That’s why it’s best to have an electrician complete the job. Most electrical contractors will charge a minimum of several hundred dollars just for coming out, so you may want to combine this repair with a few other outstanding items around the house.
2. Missing Anti-Tip Device on Stand-Alone Oven
Some years ago a kid stood on the open oven door which tipped the stove and killed him. To prevent such tragedies, anti-tip devices have been required since 1991. However, they’re missing in at least 90% of home inspections. We usually find them still in a sealed bag somewhere in the kitchen cabinets.
It’s not a difficult or expensive fix. A handyman should be able to do in under an hour.
3. Missing Dishwasher High-Loop
The high-loop prevents dirty water from backing into your dishwasher if your drain gets clogged. A smart idea, but again, it’s missing the majority of the time. Most buyers should be able to fix this themselves for a few bucks. It’s just a matter of attaching part of the dishwasher drain hose above the bottom of the sink. Calling out a plumber will set you back at least $150.
4. Broken Window Seal
That’s one of the more expensive issues on the list. It only affects double-glazed windows which have two layers of glass with some space between them. This void is usually filled with argon to improve the window energy efficiency.
With time, the seal around the glass can weaken and let the argon escape. Then you start getting water condensation inside. The windows appear dirty or hazy as a result. The issue is usually considered cosmetic by home inspectors. The decrease in energy efficiency is miniscule.
Unfortunately, fixing this problem generally means replacing the affected window pane (not necessarily the entire window). Most windows will cost $300-500 apiece. Sliding-glass doors could be over $1,000, even more for non-standard sizes.
Some companies claim to restore the seal without replacing the window, but you want to have some kind of warranty on their work.
5. Dirty HVAC Air Filter
Obviously not a “real” problem, but most inspectors will note it in their report. An easy fix for sure. However, seeing this would make me wonder how well the sellers took care of their home. Air filters take 5 minutes to replace and keeping them clean helps extend the life of the HVAC system.
I’d need to see more red flags to get genuinely concerned, but that’s definitely one of them.
6. Insufficient Downspout Extension
Water is the source of life, but the enemy of any house. That’s why you want to keep it as far away as possible from your property, especially if you have a basement. Having the downspouts dump water right next to your foundation is never a good idea.
Installing downspout extensions is a quick and easy way to fix the issue. The basic models cost $10-20. Of course, you have to make sure the water flowing out of the extension won’t come right back to the house, so the grade must slope down away from the foundation.
7. Double-Tapped Circuit Breaker
This happens when two wires are attached to the same circuit breaker. The concern is that if the wires are different types, then they’ll contract and expand differently under load. With time this could make them come loose from the breaker and create a shocking hazard.
You won’t see this issue without removing the cover on your electrical panel. Obviously it’s easy to get hurt by touching the wrong wire, so it’s best to have a qualified electrician deal with it. Expect to spend several hundred dollars to fix the problem.
8. Deteriorated Caulk and Grout
Tiles in bathrooms and kitchens can last a long time. Not the case with caulk (the flexible seal along the bathtub or counter edge) and grout (the mortar between tiles).
Caulk usually lasts 2-3 years. Grout fares better, but usually has to be redone after 8-10 years. Many homeowners forget about these.
As a result, the tiles need to be re-caulked and re-grouted. Hiring someone to do it will probably run you several hundred dollars. You could do it yourself for a lot less, but it’s a tricky, messy and time-consuming affair.
One thing to keep in mind: the purpose of caulk and grout is to keep water out of the walls. If these have been let go for a very long time, it’s possible to have water damage hidden behind.
You may also want to check out my post on the typical cost of a home inspection.
If you still have questions about the most common home inspection issues, drop me a line below: