Once you have a buyer for your home, you may start thinking the home selling process is basically over, except for finalizing paperwork. But you still have a big step ahead of you. The home inspection!

A home inspection examines the parts of a home, from the roof to the foundation. Inspections are often requested by buyers interested in a property, sellers who opt to do a pre-sale home inspection and homeowners who want some peace of mind. Inspections are not mandatory but recommended for buyers to ensure they are not purchasing a home with major, costly issues.

A home inspector can reveal things that fail a home inspection that may affect the house’s safety, functionality, and value. By being aware of these potential issues, buyers can approach the home buying process with confidence and make informed decisions about their investment.

How Does A Home Inspection Work?

A home inspector should take several hours to complete a detailed walk-through of the home in question. During that time, the inspector will take notes and pictures. Most importantly, the inspector will provide an objective opinion on the home’s condition. A home inspector does not necessarily determine whether your home is compliant with local building codes.

They also will not comment on anything aesthetic, unless it suggests that a larger problem lies beneath. Although inspectors should have a keen eye for detail, they will not be able to detect the unseen. That means hidden pests, asbestos, mold or other potentially hazardous substances might go unnoticed.

Areas that are not readily accessible, like the septic tank, will not be covered, either. Those sorts of issues can require specialized evaluations.

12 Common Home Inspection Fails

These are the 12 most common things that fail a home inspection. Some may surprise you:

1. Foundation Problems

A foundation inspection is when a structural or foundation engineer inspects your home’s foundation. They will walk around your home, checking out key areas that may be showing signs of foundation issues. The goal of this inspection is for the inspector to make you aware of any foundation damage they are seeing in the home, how it could affect your safety and what can be done to rectify the situation. Inspectors will also be aware of any relevant building codes and if the home’s foundation is properly up to code.

 What to look for:

  • Cracks on the exterior walls of the home
  • Leaning or tilting chimney
  • Sagging or uneven floors
  • Cabinets separating from the wall
  • Windows and doors that don’t open or shut properly
  • Cracks in interior walls and ceilings
  • Bowing walls

2. Roofing Issues

One of the most common things that can result in a failed home inspection is the condition of the roof. If your roof is in bad shape, it can be a major problem for potential buyers. Leaks, missing shingles, and other damage are often signs that the roof needs to be replaced, which is a major expense.

If you are selling your home and you know that the roof needs to be replaced, it is best to replace it before putting your home on the market. This will give you a much better chance of passing the home inspection, and it will also make your home more appealing to buyers.

If you are buying a home and the roof needs to be replaced, you can attempt to negotiate with the seller to have them replace the roof before you close on the house. If they are unwilling to do this, you may be able to get them to give you a credit that you can use to pay for the roof replacement.

 What to look for:

  • Damage to the shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Missing flashing
  • Signs of water damage on the roof and in the attic
  • Decay
  • Signs of sagging or weak spots

3. Water Damage

One of the most serious and financially damaging issues in a home inspection is water damage. It can cause significant problems such as foundation damage and mold growth. Water damage and high humidity can lead to mildew and mold issues in your home. Unfortunately, black mold is expensive to fix and highly dangerous to your health and the health of anyone moving into your home.

What to look for:

  • Visible leaks coming from exposed pipes
  • Signs of water, including stains and mildew
  • Sounds of running water or dripping
  • Low water pressure
  • A rise in your water bills, but not in your usage

4. Electrical Issues

Safety is perhaps the most important factor when buying a home, and electrical issues can threaten that safety immediately. Home inspectors will typically look for electrical problems that may cause fires, though they cannot always check ceiling interiors. In fact, most house fires are caused by bad electrical wiring. The bad news is that it can cost a massive amount of money to fix. Good inspectors will notate any code violation found during the inspection along with spliced wires which are more easily fixable. If an inspector cites issues, you should hire an electrician to give an estimate.

 What to look for:

  • Faulty, damaged or exposed wiring
  • Outdated or damaged electrical panel
  • Overloaded breakers
  • Switches or outlets that don’t work

5. Plumbing Problems

Plumbing issues and leaking pipes are frequent reasons for a home inspection to fail. These difficulties might be as basic as a slow drain or a leaking faucet, or they can be more complex, such as cross-connection problems (where water from another source contaminates domestic water).

In some situations, pipes will have to be replaced altogether. Plumbing is a major source of concern because if a hidden leak is left unattended, it can result in mold spreading throughout the home.

To locate leaks, the home inspector will look for signs of mil damage, and fractures around pipes throughout the home. Additionally, they will inspect the ceiling for wet stains or fractures.

 What to look for:

  • Mold growth on cabinets or walls
  • Brown spots on the ceiling
  • Unpleasant smells coming from the drains

6. HVAC Problems

HVAC systems and ductwork should be in working order to ensure proper air quality and temperature regulation in the home. Certain HVAC issues can fail a home inspection due to a matter of safety. Your inspector will want to know your system is working properly, has proper ventilation and isn’t leaking carbon monoxide, refrigerant or any other harmful toxins.

What to look for:

  • Refrigerant leaks
  • Cracks in ductwork
  • Loose electrical connections
  • Squeaks, noises or bangs coming from your unit
  • The smell of gas
  • The presence of carbon monoxide (using a detector)

7. Mold

Not all mold is a major health concern, but certain types are: including black mold. If an inspector finds black mold on the property, it is going to become a major issue with completing the sale. Black mold is most commonly detected within crawlspace or basements which can make it go unnoticed to the untrained eye. Aside from the potential health threat, mold can also be symptomatic of structural issues or even plumbing issues. In either case, the source of the problem must be addressed. Depending on the depth of the issue, this process can be a very expensive ordeal.

 What to look for:

  • Standing water
  • Musty smells
  • Actual, physical mold

8. Termites and Other Pests

Infestations by pests like termites can cause significant damage to the structure of a home and require costly repairs. According to the University of Kentucky, the estimated annual cost of termite damage is in the billions.

What to look for:

  • Rodent droppings
  • Scratching and rustling noises
  • Nest materials
  • Holes or gnaw marks in your wood
  • Swarming
  • Buckling wood
  • Swollen floors or ceilings
  • Visible tunnels in your wood
  • Mold or mildew smells

9. Windows and Doors Issues

It is important for the windows and doors in your home to function properly for safety’s sake, including making sure that they all open, close, and lock properly. Foundation issues can cause doors and windows to become unstable and unreliable, but other issues might have a hand in this too, such as cracks in the wall or problems with the framework.

While it is not always expensive to replace doors and windows, it becomes a much bigger job if the structure of the home causes the issue. Bear in mind that if a home inspector tells you there’s something wrong with them—you’re likely not seeing the root cause.

What to look for:

  • Difficulty opening or shutting doors and windows
  • Broken or malfunctioning locks
  • Large, uneven spacing at top of closed doors
  • Broken windows
  • Windows letting in outside air or water

10. Building Code Violations

Building code violations are another common problem that can raise red flags for potential buyers. These violations can range from minor things, like not having the proper permits for your renovations, to major issues, like not having the proper supports in place for your deck.

If you are buying a home that has building code violations, you need to be aware of the potential risks. You may be liable for the costs of repairing the violations, or you may be forced to demolish the offending structure.

Home inspectors are not building code inspectors. However, they tend to find secondary defects in the structures that were not installed properly. Items such as improper electrical or windows too high for emergency situations. It is recommended that buyers check for any permits on alterations or structures that were added prior to the close of escrow.

If you are selling a home with building code violations, you need to disclose them to potential buyers. You may also need to get the violations corrected before you can close on the sale.

 What to look for:

  • Permits for any additions or other projects done on the home
  • Violations based on your specific city’s codes and ordinances

11. Structural Issues

Many houses sustain some, albeit usually minor, structural damage from problems in one or more of the other categories, such as foundation walls, floor joists, rafters, or window and door headers. These issues are more prevalent in older homes.

What to look for:

  • Sagging floors, rafters or roof
  • Sloping floor
  • Cracks in exterior brick or mortar
  • Wood rot
  • Cracks on walls or around windows and door frames
  • Damp subfloors

12. Drainage Problems

This issue is frequently associated with water damage, as improperly graded homes prevent water from draining properly.

The inspector might notice spongy earth around the home’s foundation and basement leaks. Different circumstances can result in a variety of concerns around the house.

When the terrain surrounding the home slopes downward toward the house, this might result in moist or wet crawl spaces, foundation movement, or foundation cracking. Should water wick up the house’s foundation, it can cause rot and mold in the walls.

What to look for:

  • Overflowing gutters
  • Flooding in your yard
  • Water pooling near the home
  • Water leaking into the basement
  • Musty smells
  • Mold and mildew
  • Efflorescence on your basement walls

Do You Have To Fix Every Problem Found During A Home Inspection?

A home inspection report is not a to-do list; you do not need to fix everything a home inspector thinks could stand for improvement. Basically inspection repairs fall into three categories: fixes that are pretty much required, according to the inspector; fixes that typically aren’t required; and fixes that are up for debate. Here’s how to know which is which.

There are some repairs that will be required by lenders before they will release funds to finance a buyer’s home purchase. Typically these address costly structural defects, building code violations, or safety issues—sometimes in the attic, crawl spaces, and basement—and others related to the chimney or furnace.

An inspector will also check whether your septic system and heater are in good condition and verify whether there’s a possible radon leak or the presence of termites (homeowners tend to have many questions on these topics). Other conditions of the home that an inspector may report on include those related to the roof, electrical systems, and plumbing lines and the condition of your HVAC system.

If a home inspection reveals such problems, odds are you’re responsible for fixing them. Start by getting some bids from contractors to see how much the work will cost. From there, you can fix these problems or—the more expedient route—offer the buyers a credit so they can pay for the fixes themselves. This might be preferable, as you won’t have to oversee the process; you can move out and move on with your life.

Find the Right Agent

Buying your house should be a fun and fulfilling experience. If you have done your research and evaluated what you can afford and what you truly need, finding a new home can be exciting. Learning more about the purchase process eliminates the fear of the unknown and lets you search for a home with peace of mind.

Windermere’s community of real estate professionals is our greatest asset. We have experts in all areas of real estate, from your typical starter home to condos, luxury properties, and new construction. While residential real estate is the mainstay of our business, Windermere also has offices and associates who specialize in property management, commercial real estate, and relocation services. To further facilitate the home buying process, Windermere has affiliated partners in certain regions to provide mortgage, title, and escrow services.

Call us today with any questions or concerns. Our professional Real Estate Agents will help you through this exciting process. (951) 369-8002