Better check on these items before the Buyer's home inspector shows up and brings these points up to your Seller... otherwise it may cost you more that fix it dollars with a lost transaction!
1) Poor Drainage Around the Exterior of the Home
A house should have positive drainage around the foundation, meaning the ground and all downspouts slope away from the home. Watch out for hard surfaces, for example a concrete patio meeting a concrete foundation wall. If the joint between the two are not sealed, there's only one place for the water to go, down the foundation wall and eventually into the basement. The easiest way to address these common issues, are minor landscaping changes to direct the water away from the foundation walls.
2) Faulty Wiring
This is mostly found in the homes of weekend handymen. Things to watch out for are loose or hanging wires, inoperable or missing GFCIs, reverse polarity and improper use of electrical cords (i.e using them as permanent wiring instead of temporary). Other common wiring issues are older aluminum wiring and knob and tube. Both of which can make it difficult to get insurance.
3) Roof Leaks
These are mostly caused by 2 issues; end of life (most asphalt roofs last 15-25 years) and improper or deteriorated flashing. Any protrusions or change in slope of a roof is a potential issue. Make sure your home inspector actually goes up onto the roof. It looks very different than the view from the ground.
4) Old or Unsafe Heating Systems
To avoid this problem, the furnace should be serviced regularly. The lifespan of a new high efficiency furnace is about 20 years. The most common problems with furnaces are cracked heat exchangers (which aren't always visible to the naked eye) and improper exhausting.
5) Home is Poorly Maintained
Poor maintenance is a sign of other potential defects that may be found including furnace, air conditioner, gutters, indoor air quality and mold.
6) Minor Structural Issues
All homes will have minor cracks in the walls, basement and garage floors. What is important is the degree of damage. When you see displacement (major cracking of the bricks) or bowing of the walls, these are usually indications of other major structural problems. Horizontal or large cracks may be caused by support beams being cut or missing support posts. Further investigation would be necessary to determine the exact cause and extent of damage
7) Plumbing Issues
Older homes may have lead or galvanized supply lines. Lead in drinking water can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and children. Lead supply lines are soft and light grey in colour. Galvanized water lines were used prior to the 60's. The problem with galvanized pipes is that they corrode and only have a lifespan of about 50 years so they are all at end of life now.
Copper has been used for many years for water lines and waste lines with relatively few issues. Today we also see a lot of plastic supply lines. PEX (one brand of plastic pipe) pipe is a flexible plastic pipe available in 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch and 1-inch diameters and is used for hot and cold indoor plumbing (instead of copper or galvanized pipe) and for radiant floor heating.
A recent product which has caused considerable problems is KITEC plumbing which is easily identifiable by it's blue and orange plastic pipes. KITEC was recalled in 2005 due to corrosion problems with the fittings. It will cost $6000-$8000 to remove and replace KITEC plumbing in an average home. There was a class action lawsuit dealing with KITEC and a settlement has been reached to compensate affected home owners.
Finally, in addition to glavanized pipe, another form of waste pipe commonly seen is cast iron. This was used up to the 1950's. Cast iron waste piping generally fails in one of two ways; it can rust through, and it is also prone to splitting along a seam, particularly on horizontal runs.
8) Home's Exterior Permits Water Entry
This is generally caused by windows and doors installed without proper thresholds and caulking. It can also be caused by improper grading. The results can be mold as well as structural damage to framing members.
9) Inadequate or Poor Ventilation
When homes were not so air-tight we used passive ventilation systems (meaning there was no actual venting but there were enough air leaks through windows and walls). In these homes there are often no fans in bathrooms or kitchens.
With homes being built very air tight in order to increase energy efficiency, it is important to ensure good air quality is maintained. To achieve this we now see more HRVs (Heat Recovery Ventilators). HRV systems are fully ducted systems which exhaust stale air out of the home and replace it with fresh air from outside. Typically, an HRV is able to recover 70 to 80 percent of the heat from the exhaust air and transfer it, via a heat exchanger, to the incoming air. Most new homes are being built with them but you can also retrofit one into an existing home.
10) Environmental Issues
These include such things as asbestos, underground oil tanks, radon etc. The degree of area affected is as important to determine as what if anything to do about it. This is a homeowner's call and their aversion to the issue has to be considered when determining remediation of these issues.
Mark Loewenberg PA
Keller Williams REALTOR®
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