07 Jul 6 Issues That Get Missed in a Home Inspection
Home inspections are not a simple formality. A home inspection can make a big difference in the negotiation process. It can help identify issues that the homebuyer will want to be aware of once they move in. If the inspection is a contingency, then it provides an “out” if there are too many issues. For all these reasons and more, a thorough home inspection is a critical step in the home buying process. But not all home inspectors are created equal. Here are the top six issues that can get missed.
1. Heating and Cooling Systems
HVAC and other heating and cooling systems have a life span, which the EPA estimates to be 15-20 years. Of course many homeowners have systems that continue to function long past that time, and it is rare that a homeowner will invest in a new system unless there is an issue. Since a new system can cost thousands of dollars, and a breakdown in the middle of summer or winter is an unpleasant experience, a home buyer should be aware of this potential problem. A good home inspection will check the age of the systems and note if they are approaching or exceeding the usual lifespan.
2. Missing GFCI
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is an electrical device that is installed in the electrical system to protect against electrocution. The National Electric Code requires placement of GFCI outlets in a number of interior and exterior areas of the home. Houses built before 2017, or houses with a poorly executed addition may be missing this critical safety measure in one or more places. One location often missed is the laundry room, which creates a huge risk of electrocution in the event of leaks from the washing machine.
3. Carbon Monoxide Sensors
Carbon monoxide is a danger in any home that has a gas system, including cooking, heating, and laundry. While carbon monoxide detectors are required in rental units, Virginia code does not require them to be installed in owner-occupied dwellings. While some newer smoke detectors have a carbon monoxide detection feature, most do not. It is important for a home inspection to report on whether carbon monoxide sensors are properly placed in the home.
4. Plumbing “Improvements”
One of the projects homeowners are most likely to undertake on their own is basic plumbing. Often, they achieve a fix of the issue, but they do it wrong. For instance, the connection between copper and PVC piping can be done in a number of ways – some more effective and long-term than others. Also, dishwasher installation, DIY or not, often miss the proper placement of the drain hose, which can lead to clogs or damage to the hose.
The insulation requirements under Virginia Code have evolved over the years, but existing homes have been exempted from the updated requirements. This means that home built in the 80s or earlier may have a thin layer of insulation – between 3-6 inches – instead of the 10-14 inches currently required. The lack of insulation impacts heating and air conditioning costs, so it should be checked.
It is rare that a home inspector goes up on the roof to inspect it and the chimney. However, the top of a chimney (the crown) is often sealed with cement or mortar. If this is cracked, then water flows down chimney, and in winter the freeze/thaw can damage bricks. Biller & Associates makes a point to bring a telephoto lens that allows for an inspection of the chimney.
When doing a home inspection, details matter. Biller & Associates has the expertise and takes the time to make sure that every home inspection identifies existing and potential issues for the home buyer. Contact us to set up an inspection today.