Inspections are an essential part of the home purchasing process. Though stressful, these property checkups benefit homebuyers in the long run, and either dispel consumer doubt or reveal long-lingering structural issues that require immediate attention.
Homes that fail to pass muster during the inspection phase often present common problems. Luckily, savvy buyers can overcome most of these obstacles with the help of a reputable contractor and, of course, some cash.
Homebuyers looking to purchase older property might run into electrical problems, reported The Street. If you plan to buy a home built before the 1960s, you will probably need to rewire the entire structure. Most of these houses feature antiquated knob-and-tube electrical systems that are fire prone and easily overloaded. According to Angie's List, replacing such systems costs between $8,000 and $15,000, depending on square footage. But before you call up an electrician, make sure to consult local building codes.
"If you're buying a historic home, there may be regulations on the structural changes you're allowed to make to the building," Mike Lyon, executive vice president of operations at Quicken Loans, told The Street.
Even newer homes can pose electrical problems. Inspectors often uncover instances of reverse polarity – when hot wires are connected to neutral terminals and vice versa – in modern structures, reported The Washington Post. Most local electricians will resolve this issue for a few hundred dollars.
In recent years, mold has become a key concern for homebuyers, especially those with children. Spores from toxic fungus like black mold can cause respiratory issues, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, if your prospective new home shows signs of extensive mold damage, experts suggest backing out of the sale entirely.
"Black mold can take a lot of very expensive remediation efforts. There's the cost of getting the mold out, but then there's also the cost of all the effort to make sure it doesn't come back," Lyon told The Street. "If I were a buyer, I would tell the seller, 'I am not buying this house'."
If you insist on purchasing a home with such damage, be prepared to invest time and money. According to HGTV, mold remediation costs anywhere from $500 to $5000 to remove spores from attics, basements and crawl spaces.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, average fiber cement shingles retain their structural integrity for only around 25 years. As a result, many middle-aged homes on the market have roof leaks or are susceptible to such damage.
Roof replacement can be a pricey proposition, costing between $15,000 and $150,000, depending on square footage. If you're dealing with a leaky roof and have the money to make repairs, consider switching to metal or slate. Both options are more expensive than cement – metal goes for around $1,500 per 100 feet while slate is slightly cheaper at $800 – but last considerably longer and require less maintenance.
Additionally, before diving into roof repair mode, make sure to get the proper local permits. Local governments determine fees based on the square footage you plan to tackle. For instance, a 1,350-foot roof repair permit can cost anywhere from $150 to $400, depending on your location.
Some homes display foundation problems and, unfortunately, most of them are deal-breakers.
"You do not want to see the words 'foundation problems' anywhere in the home inspection or appraisal," Lyon told The Street. "If the home inspector puts a golf ball down on one side of the house and it rolls to the other side, then you need to walk away."
However, if you're absolutely in love with your prospective home, some problems are solvable. Contractors can plug cracks one-quarter of an inch or wider for $1,500 to $3,000, reported House Logic. You can even level uneven foundations by adding wooden braces.
If you've got your eye on a prospective property, make sure to hire a reputable home inspection company to review the home. Alban Home Inspections provides services to homebuyers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington D.C.