Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, which is why so much rides on the home inspection. While you can’t replace a good, qualified home inspector, knowing the biggest and most expensive issues to be on the lookout for can help you be more prepared during house hunting.
Structural repairs can be financially devastating. Serious issues with the foundation, crawl space, basement, walls, or roof could cost in the tens of thousands, so if you encounter extensive damage, proceed with caution (or with your newest bargaining chip).
Poor drainage or sloping can cause tremendous expense. From wet crawl spaces, to foundation movement, to water in the walls, you’ll easily spend thousands on repairs from poor drainage damage. When touring a home, look for signs of foundation movement: interior doors with uneven gaping at the top when the door is closed, or windows or floors visibly out of level.
If a home’s roof is older or was improperly installed, repairs or even replacement may be in the near future. Cracked, curled, or darkened shingles are pretty good signs that a roof’s lifespan is nearing its end. You can also be on the lookout for moss growth, an indication moisture is being trapped in. Replacing a roof can run you upwards of $10,000.
The older the home, the greater the chance you’ll be facing an electrical issue. Exposed or spliced wires are a tragedy waiting to happen, so carefully consider a home inspector’s notation of faulty electrical systems and then talk to a licensed electrician about any concerns.
Poor plumbing isn’t always a massive issue—a leaky faucet can be handled easily—but if the problem is pervasive, repairs or replacement will cost you. Your inspector will be on the lookout for damaged flooring, subfloor rot, and polybutylene pipes, which are no longer used because of their leaking risk.
Though mold is a byproduct of other issues, such as poor plumbing, it’s a hazardous, costly repair that will have to be immediately dealt with if discovered. If you notice moisture stains on the ceiling or walls or water collecting near the foundation, buyer beware.