Hugh Cairns: 3 home inspection items to expect

December 25, 2014 12:57 am

Aside from buying the house itself, a new roof covering represents one of the largest maintenance investments that you will make. It’s vital to know when your roof needs attention and, if so, what you should do about it – your home inspector will help with advice.  Photo: Contributed – (Hugh Cairns)

Hugh Cairns: 3 home inspection items to expect

In my book, there are three primary outcomes from home inspections and they are all categorized as good. There are the inspections where a significant existing condition is communicated that the buyer may not be aware of, or where the conditions observed are anticipated and explainable (these include items that the buyer may already have seen or aware of, but need some clarification or further explanation). The third good outcome is where the home is performing just as it should.

Buying a home is a big event. All the critiquing, advice and expectations being discussed can be a tad overwhelming.  It can be difficult to extract the not so big items from the things that are big. Not surprisingly, most deficient or maintenance associated conditions found during home inspections are routine, expected, understandable, and are a result of in-service age, materials or workmanship. It stands to reason that some items reported in home inspections pop up repeatedly and are not big surprises.

So here are 3 home inspection items that buyers may expect…

 

Old water heaters

Water heaters usually last decades without a problem, however for insurance purposes, the widely accepted reliable service life of tanked water heaters ranges from 8 to 12 years (or the published warrantied period). When it comes to hot water heaters, they may be working just fine and can expect to do so for years, but insurance underwriters tend to categorize aging water heaters differently than newer ones. Your home inspector has your best interest in mind and just wants to advise you on the life span so that you are prepared.  In most cases, if the water heater is working the seller does not have to replace or credit for this item.  

Small cracks in drywall or some settlement

Houses expand and contract with pressure and temperature, moisture can play a role too. There are multiple reasons why simple drywall cracks appear. Today’s engineered homes tend to fair better than older homes, but new homes aren’t immune. My advice, go into your inspection expecting that the drywall will not be perfect.

When it comes to settlement, older homes simply just don’t perform structurally the same way that new ones do. They aren’t as well engineered and the land that they were built on not evaluated like what is expected today. Think of the immense amount of weight that a home constitutes and how it gets transferred from the roof to the sub-surface. Your home inspector will be able to point out settlement and discuss potential sources of cause most of which are simple and explainable. When cases are significant, your inspector will advise a technical inspection. If you’re sensitive to a bit of rolling in a floor surface or a driveway that isn’t cracked then you might consider looking at a brand new homes to meet your expectations.

Tired roof coverings

Your roof is the first line of defence from the weather, it also accounts for about a third of the visible surface area of the structure. It is important that your roof is well maintained and weather tight. Aside from buying the house itself, a new roof covering represents one of the largest maintenance investments that you will make. It’s vital to know when your roof needs attention and, if so, what you should do about it – your home inspector will help with advice. It’s safe to say that significant deterioration is a reason enough to have a plan for replacement. The older the covering, the less reliable it becomes.

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