A home inspection aims to identify any defects within specific components and systems of a residential property. The process is vital for both home buyers and sellers. About 86 percent of these inspections identify at least one problem.
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Home inspections are mostly based on inspectors’ observation on the inspection date and don’t predict future conditions. Although a home inspection may not reveal all existing issues, it points out material defects.
In our work, home inspectors, like all humans, are bound to make mistakes. Below, I highlight the top ten mistakes that beginners often make from a veteran home inspector’s perspective.
Failing to report Faulty Doors and Windows
Your soon-to-be home ought to have efficient doors and windows. Yet many home inspectors fail to diagnose some issues concerning doors and windows. Drafty doors and leaky windows may lead to water damage and strain your air conditioner and furnace.
Did you know that nearly 18 percent of home inspection issues are window-related? They include broken sashes, window seal failure, broken locks, and difficult-to-close-or-open locks. Similarly, the most common problems for doors include dented, squeaky, drafty, and difficult to close or open doors.
Undetected Septic System Issues
The problem with inspecting septic systems is that the system is only good on the day it’s done. There isn’t any guarantee that the system won’t fail a few months after a new owner purchases the property. This is often the downside of owning a septic system-served home. And it’s the main reason I recommend homeowners to go for public sewers.
Before you purchase a home, you want to determine whether the previous owner maintained the septic system properly. For instance, it’s good practice to pump out a septic system every three years, depending on the number of people who live in the home. The pumping out should be more frequent when the system is in greater use.
Undetected Ice Dams
Ice dams can be quite complicated to identify, especially when it’s not during the winter season. A homeowner can conceal previous water damage, and the inspector may fail to identify it. Water stains are the most easily recognized damage from ice dams.
However, the homeowner can easily clean up such stains by either painting the entire ceiling or bleaching out the stains. Suppose the ice dams are located where the home inspector or his camera can’t access. In that case, it becomes an inspection issue that the inspector can easily miss.
Leaks can cause many issues in a home, including structural degradation and mold infestation. That’s why you need to have your home sealed against the elements and water effectively redirected away from your home.
As your home inspector, I would be looking for any evidence of leaks and water damage. The only problem would be that I would need water to make any leaks show up. That means that if I were examining a home after a dry season, or one that’s been unoccupied for a while, I might not notice any leaks. That’s why I would use leak detectors to make my work easier. The best time to inspect your home would be after your area has had some precipitation or you have occupied the house.
Undetected Structural Problems
Home inspectors usually include the roof in their inspection and will tell if the irregularities on your roof are acceptable or indicate a bigger issue. About 20 percent of problems that home inspectors uncover have to do with the roof. Most inspectors are qualified to know if the roof needs to be replaced, and it might not be necessary to call in a roofer.
Similarly, as an inspector, I would look at your home’s foundation and examine it for cracks or any other issues that you need to know about. I would use a zip level with a remote sensing device that can travel to rooms, all sides of the house, and around corners. This equipment will get me accurate readings and point out where the low spots and high spots are.
However, should the home have major issues, I may not accurately diagnose the exact problem. Additionally, I may not be in the best position to estimate the cost of repairs. When a home inspector identifies a structural problem, you’d need to call in a structural engineer to evaluate it further.
Structural problems such as foundation and roof issues can be expensive and often the most challenging problems to fix. If your house has any such problems, it would be best to contact a foundation or roofing contractor. This should be done as part of your home inspection process.
Failure to Point out Internal Chimney Issues
As a qualified home inspector, I can look over your home’s fireplace both from the interior and exterior, even using my drone camera and pole camera if I can’t do it physically. I’d be on the lookout for any structural cracks and deterioration of the bricks on the outside. I’d also find out whether any mortar joints in your chimney need re-pointing.
On the inside, I would visually look up your chimney to check whether there is any dangerous soot build-up. I would also look for any internal damage. And this is where it can get tricky, and I could easily miss a problem, especially if I lack special video cameras to assist me. To be sure there aren’t any chimney issues, you’d need to get a level two inspection done by specialists. In most cases, an ordinary home inspection doesn’t include experts.
Also, you’d need level two checks after making changes to the heating system. For instance, you could choose to change your fuel type from oil to gas or vice versa. You would also need a level two inspection if there were a seismic event, chimney fire, or house fire.
Failing to Identify Electrical Issues
Homeowners invite inspectors to their homes to help them identify any obvious problems. This is done in a short time and, in most cases, through visual inspection. The process is affordable to both buyers and sellers and easily detects common problems. However, electrical issues require more than just visual investigation. A millimeter can help detect most electrical faults.
Home inspectors may not have adequate time for such a thorough investigation even if they’re qualified for electrical work. They may tell you if your home has noticeable electrical problems such as an inlet without ground. They may also identify double tapped breakers.
However, they may fail to determine other home components’ malfunction, especially if it’s due to electrical issues. You’ll usually need to engage an electrician to understand what’s wrong with an electrical system’s technical aspects.
Electrical faults can lead to electrocution and fires in the home. Such accidents may need legal redress against the inspector for negligence.
Not Noticing Blocked or Damaged Sewer Lines
A home inspector knows how to check for functional drainage and water system. However, this doesn’t mean they can detect pipe damage or partial blockages by using their pole camera. They determine the type of pipe system in your home and its age. They may also advise you on potential issues that tree roots can cause. But they would require special equipment to help them detect some issues.
Blocked or damaged sewer lines are among the issues most home inspectors miss. As such, the inspector may fail to identify problems with your pipes, and you may not discover this until you’ve lived in the house for a while. Whenever this happens, the new homeowner may need to incur more expenses to pump out the system.
Failing to Notice a Cracked heat Exchanger
As an aspiring homeowner, there are circumstances where you might need to bring in an HVAC specialist to inspect along with your home inspector. If your new home’s heat exchanger is over ten years old, it’s probably time to get it inspected.
Cracked heat exchangers can cause combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide to mix with your home’s indoor air. Poisonous gases aren’t something you would want in your home.
I remember an incident in my neighborhood a few years back. A homeowner almost got killed because of a faulty heat exchanger releasing carbon monoxide into the home. Luckily for him, I used radiotracer leak detection techniques and found the leaking point. I then quickly brought in a specialist who fixed the equipment before causing much damage. Many home inspectors fail to detect heat exchanger leaks because they don’t have such equipment.
Failure to Notice Failing HVAC Equipment
Like your favorite automobile, HVAC equipment may run as long as 60 years without mishaps, or it can stop working tomorrow. A thorough examination of your HVAC equipment is a sure way to detect any future problems. More often than not, a home inspector might not be qualified for such a task.
While your home inspector will assure you that your HVAC system is functional at the time of the inspection, that won’t necessarily be the case when they leave. Suppose you intend to buy a home with an older HVAC unit. In that case, you might as well prepare for potential problems, especially if the current owner hasn’t been keen on its maintenance.
Whenever a home inspector fails to notice failing HVAC equipment, the new buyer may incur additional repair or replacement expenses. Alternatively, the buyer may want to recover such costs from the seller. This could dent the reputation of the inspector and may even end in litigation.
Nearly 14 percent of home inspections don’t uncover anything severe, and many fail to find all issues. As a home buyer or seller, you don’t want to be part of these statistics.
You want to get your home inspection done right. The last thing any homeowner wants is moving into a house of horrors. That’s why you need a qualified, certified, and experienced home inspector before you buy or sell your home.
Have you ever been in trouble for inefficient home inspection? Share your experience in the comment below.
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