Home inspectors say that certain problems, however, should be addressed immediately for safety and structural reasons. The Columbus Dispatch recently highlighted a few such issues, including:
1. Damaged foundations.
Hairline cracks in the foundation tend to be signs from the home settling, but large cracks – uneven blocks or bowed walls – could signal a more serious and pricey issue. Have a structural engineer examine the foundation if such a problem is uncovered. “It could be very serious,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “The cost to repair really depends. It’s not like a furnace.”
This scourge is not uncommon to spot in bathrooms, kitchens, and wherever else water is usually present. However, buyers should be concerned about large patches of mold. It could signal water is entering the house and lingering. “If mold is on a tile or a hard surface, it can almost always be cleaned up with bleach and water,” Lesh says. “But in a basement, or on drywall, you can’t scrub it clean. What you see on the surface could be much worse behind the surface. … You don’t want someone just to come in and replace the drywall; you have to find the source of the water.”
3. Faulty wiring.
Do-it-yourself electrical projects can be alarming and pose a fire risk, inspectors say. “I’ve seen electrical systems that I don’t know how they didn’t catch fire,” says Dave Argabright, owner of Attic to Sidewalk Home Inspections in Pickaway County, Ohio. Also, inspectors say they watch for knob-and-tube wiring – where the exposed wire is anchored by porcelain posts. This technique was commonly used in homes built in the 1880s to the 1930s. But inspectors recommend such wiring be replaced. In fact, companies won’t even insure homes with such out-of-date wiring.