Chris Depolo of Virginia is a licensed home inspector who operates his own business. In the following article, Chris DePolo discusses the most common concerns found during a home inspection, and how homeowners, and/or potential buyers can address these issues.
Home inspections should always be performed before the sale of a house, as there are many things that can be wrong with a property that aren’t visible to the untrained eye.
Common problems that are identified by home inspectors include everything from faulty wiring, plumbing issues, problems with heating and cooling systems, poor roof quality, structural damage, poor drainage around the home, and more. Homeowners can choose to repair all the issues or a select a few more crucial ones before selling the house. Potential buyers can use these problems to negotiate a lower cost or walk away from the sale, among others.
Below, Chris DePolo explains how each of these issues manifest themselves in a home and what options are available to both homeowner and potential buyer.
Home inspections can bring to light many hidden problems in a home that may dissuade a buyer from proceeding with the purchase. Issues can arise both indoors and outside of the home; while they may not all be major, there are some that will need to be addressed for the health and safety of the occupants.
- Faulty Wiring – Chris Depolo of Virginia explains that electrical work may be worn out or not up to code; this can pose a safety risk and should be an immediate concern.
- Plumbing Issues – Outdated plumbing systems and recurring leaks are the most common issues here. Additionally, an older water heater or HVAC system can raise alarms to buyers in a competitive market.
- HVAC Problems – The heating and cooling systems in a home may be damaged, in need of maintenance, improperly installed, or outdated. When this is the case, homeowners are often encouraged to upgrade their HVAC systems to have them perform as efficiently as possible.
- Roofing Issues – Roofing issues may present as leaks, excessive aging, missing elements, or even improper installation that requires full replacement.
- Structural Damage – Chris Depolo of Virginia says that structural components like support beams may be missing, and minor damage such as broken trusses are commonly found, especially in older homes due to settling.
- Poor Drainage – An unbalanced lawn can cause water to run towards a house instead of away from it: landscaping changes and roof gutters/downspouts may be needed.
- Poor Insulation and/or Ventilation – These issues can occur together or independently and will have a negative impact on occupant comfort and utility costs. While it may not necessarily be something that needs to be fixed or replaced for the sale of a home, it’s often recommended to be addressed by the potential buyer down the line. However, in some older homes, vermiculite insulation was commonly used – this product may contain asbestos which will need to be remediated by a remediation specialist.
- Poor Maintenance – This can appear as overgrown lawns, minor instances of disrepair in the home, cracked or peeling wall paint and/or wallpaper, and overall uncleanliness indoors and out.
Chris DePolo says that in an ideal world, homes would be built solidly and would never deteriorate. However, problems will likely be found during a home inspection, especially when it involves an older house. Luckily, they can all be solved. Both homeowners and potential buyers will have a role in how these issues are resolved.
As the Homeowner
Homeowners shoulder the responsibility for the quality of the home they are selling, and as a result, they don’t have as much flexibility as a buyer when it comes to dealing with problems. The question really comes down to how many of the problems they will fix in order to sell the house, and how many will be left for the buyer to deal with after the sale.
Chris DePolo reports that some homeowners may have the skills and knowledge required to fix certain issues in the house, but in almost all cases, a professional should be called to properly repair any damage and make structural changes where necessary.
As the Buyer
Home buyers have more freedom when it comes to resolving issues with a house they have their eye on. In some cases, they’ll choose to just move on to another property and leave the problems for the homeowner or the next buyer to sort out.
However, Chris Depolo of Virginia says that most buyers are willing to negotiate and compromise to get the house they love. Some problems will legally be the homeowner’s responsibility, but the buyer can choose to take a credit or negotiate a lower price for the home in order to resolve the issues themselves.
In most cases, Chris DePolo says that professional contractors will be needed for repairs such as fixing a roof or updating an HVAC system, but some buyers will be able to solve problems themselves, in cases of neglect and poor maintenance, for example.
If none of the issues in a home affect its safety, home buyers can also choose to purchase the home in its current condition and address the problems at a later date (or never).
Home inspections are a natural part of responsible home buying, and although issues with a house can seem daunting to both buyer and seller, negotiations can be made for distributing responsibility, and there are countless professionals out there to ensure the job gets done right.