7 Home Inspection Problems: When Are They Worth Solving?

    Home inspection/Liz Roll [Public domain]  Should you get a home inspection before you buy a house? Definitely. In fact, your real estate agent is highly likely to recommend making your offer to purchase contingent on home inspection, right up there with appraisal and financing approval. 

    If your home inspector gives the property 2 thumbs up, great! But what if your dream home turns out to be in less than tip-top shape? Do you walk away from the deal with your earnest money intact ... or might it be worth hanging in there and solving the issues?

    KEEP IN MIND: Any substantial problems can be used as a bargaining chip by the buyer to renegotiate price. Or, the real estate seller may shoulder the burden of getting them repaired.

    Read about 7 of the commonest home inspection problems and find the average cost to fix each one.

    1. Outdated And/Or Dangerous Wiring

    Faulty wiring tops the list of problematic (not to mention dangerous) home inspection findings. If your inspector finds: A) the electrical power is supplied by an out-of-date system such as knob-and-tube wiring or B) there are indications of dangerous wires, you might need to hire an electrician to rewire the whole house, a major undertaking.
    When you just have to replace a few outlets – for example substituting GFI outlet receptacles for the standard variety -- the fix will require much less time and money.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost To Rewire Entire House (1200 sq ft): $5,750
    • Cost to Upgrade Electrical Panel from 60 to 200 amps: $2,150
    • Cost To Professionally Install A GFI Outlet: $50-100 per hour, plus parts

    Knob-&-tube wiring Laura Scudder / Wikimedia Commons

    2. Damp Basement

    Untreated dampness in the basement will lead to mildew and unhealthy indoor air quality. There are several potential methods to channel outdoor moisture away from the house: A) get the yard properly graded, B) have French drains installed, or C) ensure that all gutters and downspouts are in good shape and correctly positioned.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost To Grade A Yard: $1,960 
    • Cost To Install Exterior Backyard French Drains: $450 
    • Cost to Repair Gutters: $345 

      Damp basement Aaron Parecki / flickr

    3. Roof Damage

    A damaged or aging roof may have blown-off, curling, or brittle shingles. Its flashings might be cracked or missing. Either of these situations is a red flag for future roof leaks (if there is not an active leak already), which in turn eventually result in water damage to the home’s interior.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost to Repair a Roof: $845 

    Roof Damage / Jax Strong / flickr

    4. Foundation Warning Signs

    A house foundation in trouble shows distinct warning signs, which only get worse if left unattended. Your home inspector can interpret whether these signals mean, “Beware!” (diagonal cracking, crumbling mortar, bulging walls, sinking) or “This is something you might want to cope with” (vertical crack less than 1/16” wide, puddles adjacent to the foundation – see Problem 2 above).

    For an expert second opinion, consider a consultation with a professional engineer.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost To Hire A Structural Engineer: $490
    • Cost To Repair Minor Foundation Cracks: $500
    • Cost Of Major Foundation Work: Potentially $10,000+

    Foundation damage  / Michael Cornelius / flickr

    5. Plumbing Malfunctions

    How might home plumbing go wrong? Let me count the ways. They often start small and turn into a huge headache (and strain on your wallet) over time. Dripping faucets, clogged drains, overly high or low water pressure, a damaged washing machine hose, and any sort of plumbing leak will have to be fixed to make the house truly habitable.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost To Fix Plumbing Problems: $315 per visit, or $122 per hour for multiple repairs
    • Cost To Replace A Water Heater: $1,150

    Water heater needs replacement / secretlondon123 / flickr

    6. HVAC Hassles

    HVAC systems are also subject to a large number of troubles, which range from uncomfortable to downright dangerous. A few common examples are: malfunctioning thermostat, heating or cooling running constantly, noisy system, furnace pilot light that goes out continually, and cracked heat exchanger or chimney liner causing carbon monoxide leakage.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost To Repair Heat Exchanger: $150
    • Cost To Repair A Furnace: $285
    • Cost To Repair Air Conditioning: $355
    • Cost To Replace Chimney Flue Liner: $2,500

    Burnt-out furnace Joanna Po / flickr

    7. Inefficient Ventilation

    Poor ventilation (such as a vent hood that merely removes kitchen odors and doesn't vent steam outside) raises the indoor relative humidity level. This leads to condensation on windows, and eventually fungi and molds throughout the house. Combined with uber-enthusiastic insulation (seller’s DIY project, perhaps?), it also makes the attic overly hot, which is both energy-INefficient and very hard on the roof.

    AVERAGE:

    • Cost To Install/Replace Kitchen Or Bathroom Ventilation Fan: $385
    • Cost To Add Roof Vents: $475
    • Cost To Install Heat Recovery Ventilation System: $2050

     Kitchen fan problem Amanda Bicknell [Public domain]

    Learn More About The Home Inspection Process

    1. What’s the cost of a home inspection?

    Average cost for home inspection is approximately $325.00,but tends to vary according to total square feet of the property. This typically includes the home inspector’s onsite investigation, plus a written inspection report with documenting photographs.

    TIP: When you are a would-be home buyer, resist the temptation to save on real estate closing costs by skipping the inspection process. If you are considering the purchase of a $325,000 home, the price of inspection amounts to only one-tenth of a percent ... and it is worth every penny to ensure that you are making a wise investment.

    You could end up saving thousands of dollars on home repair. Besides, many mortgage lenders require an inspection before they will release funds.

    2. Who should pay for a home inspection?

    The buyer (not the seller) covers the cost of homes inspectors hired to fulfill a contingency clause.

    CAVEAT: When you sign a real estate home purchase agreement, try to include an inspection contingency. This lets you off the hook if the inspector finds something seriously wrong with your dream house.

    3. How long will an inspection take?

    Two-three hours, depending on the size of the home.

    4. May I, as the buyer, be present at the inspection?

    Yes. In fact, you should, because the home inspector will point out problems to you and give expert recommendations regarding necessary repairs. If your real estate agent is also present, that’s even better because he or she can discuss the findings with you and give an informed opinion.

    5. Does a home inspection cover every potential issue?

    No, you may want to commission additional inspections for specialized issues, which might include plumbing inspection; sewer scope; roof inspection; or testing for mold, lead paint, asbestos, or radon. Cost of these home inspection add-ons ranges from about $100-$800.

    6. What advice do professional homes inspectors offer regarding a less-than stellar inspection report?

    No home is perfect, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI explains that problems identified by the inspector should not be the deciding factor as to whether you should purchase the house, but simply advance notice of what you can expect.

    7. When is it worth fixing problems found by a home inspector?

    If the house is reasonably priced for its location, if it offers many (or all) of the features you prize most, and/or if you are buying in a hot seller’s market, weigh the cost of repairs against the hassle of starting your home search all over again.

    DISCLAIMER: This article conveys only a general idea of home inspection and repair costs. For specific information related to your real estate purchase, contact a licensed home inspector and/or a reliable home improvement contractor.

    Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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