A home inspection is the best thing a potential buyer can do to make sure the house they’d like to buy is safe and won’t become an expensive headache after everything is signed and sealed. What counts as an expensive headache? We’ve got a list of the top 6 worst things to find during a home inspection.
1. Underground Oil Tank – Many homes have a buried or underground oil tank on the property. Locating oil tanks underground helped protect the oil inside from extreme temperatures. Most of these old oil tanks are single-walled and made from metal – meaning leaks are common and can be happening for a long time before discovery. Typically, insurance doesn’t cover the removal and remediation required for a leaking buried oil tank. The tank must be removed along with any contaminated soil around it and disposed of as hazardous waste. The soil must be dug out until no trace of oil is found. If the leak has been going on for a while, this can be a lot of soil to remove.
2. Freon (R-22 Refrigerant) – If the home has an older HVAC unit, the coolant used in the air conditioning components could be freon. Freon is no longer manufactured due to environmental hazard. Finding that freon is the refrigerant in your cooling system could require complete replacement of the HVAC system or if the cooling part of the system can be updated for currently available refrigerants, the cost often starts at $1,000 and goes up from there.
3. Hazardous Old Building Materials – Many building materials used in the past have proven to be hazardous to human health, such as asbestos insulation, asbestos flooring materials and lead paint, to name a few. Removing and replacing hazardous materials generally requires a professional who specifically deals with these hazardous materials and can result in a large bill to ensure the safety of your family while living in the home.
4. Altered or Damaged Roof Trusses – The average person might not understand the structural importance of roof trusses in attic spaces. Inspectors frequently find that previous homeowners have cut or removed some of the roof trusses to install HVAC units, make room to fit larger items they wish to store and to “create more usable space”. Altered or damaged roof trusses compromise the structural stability of the roof. Repairs require the help of a structural engineer and usually thousands of dollars.
5. Old Decks – Many people don’t realize that decks have a limited lifespan of about 12 to 15 years. Even if the wood is in good condition, the wear and tear is often found in the fasteners that attach the deck to the house and also hold the deck together. Fasteners are made of metal and corrode and weaken over time, making the deck unstable. A surprising number of people are injured or even killed in deck collapse incidents every year. Replacing a deck at the end of its lifespan can easily cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
6. Polybutylene Piping – Polybutylene was a popular material used for plumbing in the 1980s. After a number of lawsuits in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was proven that the joints of polybutylene piping are prone to leaking and cause flooding in homes. Whenever this gray-colored old piping material is found, inspectors flag it for replacement because it isn’t a matter of if these pipes will leak, it’s a matter of when. Completely replumbing a home typically costs around $10,000 or more.
Finding any of these 6 issues during a home inspection can make or break a home’s sale. In some cases, the sellers are aware of the issues and are willing to provide concessions to fix major problems uncovered during the home inspection. If your home inspector finds any of these problems during your inspection, be sure to notify your real estate agent immediately. Your real estate agent will handle the communication with the seller’s agent or sellers.