If you are a first-time home buyer (or even if you’re not) the process of buying a home and evaluating home inspections might seem overwhelming. It can be hard to distinguish which elements of an inspection report should be dealbreakers. It’s also important to consider the resale potential of your new home if it has particular problems; even if you can live with that evidence of long-ago termite damage, another buyer might not want to. Moreover, you will have to consider building codes for any major renovation that you may do.
No matter how much you love the house’s floor plan, paint colors, kitchen, or whirlpool tub, don’t let yourself get so carried away that you ignore potentially serious problems. Buying a home is a major financial decision, and you should treat it as rationally as possible. All the skylights in the world can’t make up for the health hazards that can result from mold, water damage, or structural defects.
Furthermore, some types of problems, such as mold, EIFS-related damage, or flooding, might be excluded from your homeowners insurance policy. You can usually purchase riders to cover mold-related damage, EIFS defects or flooding, but insurance companies charge a premium for these. (EIFS stands for Exterior Insulation Finishing System. It is like stucco or concrete in appearance, but it is actually a lightweight, textured insulating material that is installed as a system. It can be vulnerable to water damage because it can’t release water that gets inside, according to detractors. Others say that water damage results from poor installation, not from the material itself. However, it is highly energy-efficient and low-cost in comparison to the materials it mimics.)
If you are selling your home and you need to correct certain building defects, it is in your interest to take care of it before putting your house on the market. It’s important to highlight the best aspects of your house and to take care of any major problems before potential buyers see it. Be sure to follow local building codes while renovating. You might consider getting it inspected first yourself so that you are aware of what the buyers will see in an inspection report. The more serious problems there are with your house, the more leverage a buyer has for bargaining you down. A good home inspection will reveal any serious problems, as well as a list of small problems that are much easier to fix.
Potentially serious problems that could be dealbreakers include: current or recent evidence of termite infestation, mold (especially black mold) water damage, structural defects, EIFS defects, EIFS water damage, asbestos, radon exposure, or even, should a buyer choose to inspect for it, excessive lead paint (only a potential problem in pre-1980 homes). Some types of mold are toxic and can cause asthma and chronic sinus infections. The more humid the climate is, the greater the risk for mold. Water damage can start small and quickly morph into a major headache. Radon, a naturally occurring gas, can cause lung cancer, as can asbestos. Furthermore, all of these problems can be costly to fix, so many buyers will just walk away.
Please use this site as a resource for finding out more detailed information about these kinds of building defects and the effect they might have on your home’s resale value. Most of all, if you are experiencing problems with any of these issues, don’t despair. Remediation, while expensive, will save you money and trouble in the long run. Look for contractors who have experience solving your particular problem. In some areas (such as asbestos removal) certification is available for qualified contractors. Furthermore, even if you are a competent do-it-yourselfer, these are issues best left for professionals to handle, as they have experience with all aspects of remediation, including cleanup of hazardous materials. A contractor will be able to make sure that all work is done in line with your state’s building codes as well.
Your first step, whether you are buying or selling, is to have a home inspection done by a qualified building inspector as soon as possible so that you can correct any problems that may arise.