These Are the Most Common Home Inspection Fails, According to Home Inspectors

published Apr 8, 2021
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A home inspection is a critical part of the homebuying process. The results of an inspection can bring a closing to a screeching halt, or in some cases, significantly alter the terms of a sale. That’s because newly discovered issues can make a home undesirable to buyers, especially if the sellers aren’t willing (or able) to pay for the necessary repairs. 

If there are parts of a home that fail inspection, some buyers and sellers are able to reach an agreement that results in lowering the home’s price. Though whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you should know about the most common reasons home components fail inspection, according to home inspectors.

A Leaky Roof

It’s problems with the big-ticket items that typically signal trouble during a home inspection. “When the home’s roof and internal plumbing have issues, that’s cause for concern,” says Joe Tangradi, director of technical services at HouseMaster, a national home inspection company. Both issues involve water, which is the root of the problem, he explains.

“Leaking roofs become a more realistic problem the older the roof is, and it can be hard to determine the severity since the beginning signs are not obvious,” Tangradi explains.  

Roofing problems are also familiar to Arie Van Tuijl, a licensed home inspector in Virginia and Maryland, and the owner of Home Inspector Secrets. “It isn’t uncommon for sellers to put a house on the market with a 30+-year-old roof that has missing shingles and other issues,” he says.

Poorly-maintained Plumbing

Plumbing can also be a major source of concern during a home inspection. “A lot can go wrong with the home’s plumbing system, from clog-ups, to pipe erosion, to bursting pipes, if they freeze in the winter,” Tangradi says. 

Tangradi estimates issues related to water occur roughly 90 percent of the time during an inspection — and failure to make water-related repairs in a timely manner can spell disaster for a home’s plumbing.

An Iffy Foundation

“Unfortunately, many homeowners do not commit to regular home maintenance, either due to a lack of knowledge, or time, or money,” says Joe Cummins, head of technical support at HouseMaster, and training director at the National Institute of Building Inspectors. As a result, small issues can grow into big problems, including when it comes to a home’s foundation.

Cummins points to poor property grading, which might cause water to run off toward the foundation, creating an opportunity for foundation leakage, damage, and mold. He says clogged gutters and downspouts also contribute to water penetration issues and damage.

Old Systems

Buyers should rightly be concerned about a home with old components since they could need replacing soon. Even if you’re buying a fixer-upper, old systems and materials could make a house an overly expensive project. 

“Unless the buyer makes a conscientious effort to find out the age of the HVAC, roof, water heater, and other appliances prior to the home inspection, there is a good chance the buyer will be shocked,” Van Tuijl says. He says he’s even inspected remodeled homes that have these issues. “For example, the furnace or A/C is 20+ years old with pervasive rust,” he notes.

Aside from heating and cooling systems, electrical systems are another watchout. “Today’s electric needs have grown exponentially, so it is not uncommon to see doubled up circuits or other DIY electrical work that can be a safety hazard,” Cummins says.

If you’re the seller, these experts recommend you keep an eye on your components and make repairs when something is amiss. Tangradi admits that you’ll probably need a specialist to inspect your roof, but he says there are many tasks that you can monitor yourself. “Things such as watching for mold, taking care of pest problems before they get out of hand, and other ‘common sense’ household cleaning chores should not be overlooked,” he says.