Recently I asked my co-host to develop a top 10 list. It was difficult to pin him down to just ten so that we could advise our audience what are the main seller inspection issues in the present market. What I didn’t count on was the interesting juxtaposition between what a Home Inspector uncovers and ultimately the repairs that are often requested by a home buyer.
I began by asking Steve to rank his top ten concerns that he uncovers during his work as a residential home inspector – although I thought he would give me a specific itemized list ranked from least important to the most significant, it didn’t really go down that way.
Here is his list:
10-Railings – loose, falling apart (safety issue)
9- Windows/Doors – broken insulated glass seals, moisture evidence, age
8- Evidence of water infiltration – basement walls, ceilings, plumbing problems
7- Structural indicators – cracks walls, sagging floor joists, support beams/columns
6- Insulation Issues – cold exterior walls, gaps, roof insulation adequate?
5- Foundation problems – cracks in basement walls and slab, painted concrete block?
4- Mechanical Systems – HVAC, hot water, boilers, air handlers – functional?
3- Roof surface conditions – worn shingles, vents flashing, performing as designed?
2- Health hazards – mold, asbestos, lead, air quality, radon
1 – Septic system if the property has one – does your toilet flush? Where is the waste going and is it working the way it should?
In my opinion this list is too vague. How can a homeowner be sure that any of those items are serious issues or not? Oh, and the homeowner can’t use the old excuse that it’s always been like that” so I will sell the house “as is”. Good luck with that!
Ultimately, everything a Home Inspector documents for a Client (typically a home buyer) is relevant and needs to be understood in the context presented in the report to the Client. The inspection is like a report card of the current conditions of the house at that very moment in time. It is meant to give the Client a list of the “significant material defects” (fancy legal language for problems & issues) and to better understand the necessary risks of taking ownership of the property.
Now, My Take! As a professional contractor specializing in handyman repairs, I decided to add my list to the mix, not to compete with my co-host but to give you an idea of what I am asked to repair. Some of these items are not my expertise, but all are important and should not be overlooked by the homeowner. I would also go as far as to suggest that this list can be rectified before the inspection occurs – if the homeowner knows/acknowledges the issues (Wouldn’t that be great!).
10-Front door issues – not closing, weather-stripping, bad paint job
9- Holes in the wall or staining on the ceilings indicating there is/was a leak
8- Doors that do not close/latch or bind – sometimes not properly hung
7- Loose tiles or grout on the floors in bathroom or kitchen
6- Compromised or broken rafters/joists
5- Dead bolt locks interior keyed instead of thumb latch.
4- Deck structure is not up to minimum building safety code
3- Replacement of broken GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) (by the way not a handyman repair in the state of NJ)
2- Evidence of leaks under the sink/cabinet floors are warped/destroyed
1 -Septic issues if the property has one (definitely not a handyman repair but certainly the worst-case scenario for the homeowner – especially if the whole system needs to be replaced.)
This is just a handful of potential red flags that the homeowner should be aware of when selling their home, but surely not a conclusive list. The old adage of “information is power” definitely applies in the home buyer/seller market, so make sure you take all the steps necessary to feel good about your transaction. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!