When purchasing a home, you should include a home inspection contingency in the offer that you write. This allows you to hire a Home Inspector to inspect the house for defects. If any defects are found, then you can negotiate with the seller to fix these defects, or you can cancel the deal. A defect is defined as: “a condition that would have a significant adverse effect on the value of the property; that would significantly impair the health or safety of future occupants of the property; or that if not repaired, removed, or replaced would significantly shorten or adversely affect the expected normal life of the premises.” Of course there are more details to the home inspection contingency, but that is the general idea.
In addition to finding defects, a home inspection will teach you about the house and point out a number of minor problems that may or may not be considered defects. Here are a few of the most common problems found during a Home Inspection:
- IMPROPER ELECTRICAL WIRING – Anytime you find improper electrical wiring, it can be considered a defect because it is a safety issue since it is a fire hazard. If you notice that the owner has done some remodeling (i.e. finished the basement) without getting proper permits, then that is a red flag there might be improper wiring. When asking the Seller to solve these kind of defects, always require them to “hire a licensed professional electrician.”
- ROOF DETERIORATION – A leaking roof is certainly a defect, and a roof considered to be in poor condition by the home inspector might be considered a defect as well. In either case, a Buyer might consider negotiating down the purchase price, rather than asking the seller to fix the defect. This is because fixing a leaking roof could involve a cheap patch that won’t last very long. So a Buyer may want to take control of fixing the situation, rather than leaving it up to the Seller.
- PLUMBING PROBLEMS – Water is the #1 enemy of any home. So even the smallest plumbing issues are usually considered defects. Common plumbing troubles are mismatched piping materials, faulty fixtures, and improperly installed hot water heaters. Leaking sinks and rocking toilets are also pretty common. Similar to when there are electrical issues, a Buyer should require the Seller to hire a “licensed professional plumber” to cure the defects.
- IMPROPER SURFACE GRADING OR DRAINAGE – This is something a Buyer should be thinking about before putting in an offer on the property. Because if there is no history of water intrusion, then it is unlikely that “improper surface grading or drainage” would be considered a defect. Also, if there is history of water intrusion, it should be mentioned on the Real Estate Condition Report – so it is something the Buyer would have knowledge about prior to writing an Offer. A Buyer might consider going over the property when it is raining and observe how water runs away from (or toward) the house.
- POOR OVERALL UPKEEP – Broken down appliances and mechanicals, peeling paint, and decayed caulk are a few examples of what an inspector may find. Many homeowners simply don’t keep up with the maintenance required for their home. Sometimes these will involve safety issues and be considered defects, and sometimes they will simply be cosmetic issues.