What Will Fail a Home Inspection?
Before answering this question, it’s important to note that home inspections, in San Antonio or any other part of the country, are not pass or fail. Home Inspectors are not code-cops, but consultants trying to provide a client with a snapshot in time of the overall condition of the home they are considering buying or selling. The goal of the home inspection is to document conditions.
So if we can’t “fail” a home inspection officially, what are big things that will “shut-down” a sale, or deficiencies so bad that they will make the home-buyer back out while they still can?
Major Problems Found During a Home Inspection
Most Home Inspectors have found that a home-buyer’s primary concerns tend to follow the condition of the big-ticket systems: The Foundation/Structure, The Roof, and the Air-Conditioning System. I personally like to add another item that list that I have found commonly in the San Antonio area, and that is very old and out-dated electrical panels (especially Federal Pacific/Zinsco panels).
Significant Foundation Issues: Over time, all foundations will “settle”; the ground beneath the concrete will compact and shrink due to the compression from the concrete. This is a problem, unless the settlement occurs in some areas more prominently than others. This is called “differential settlement”, and it means that your foundation is “sinking” at different rates, sometimes significantly. When this happens, the structural systems resting on the concrete begin to move and shift, causing doors to no longer open and close properly, as well as windows. Drywall begins to crack in places, especially around windows and doors. Studs from wall begin to bulge out. Over time, the settlement can get worse and cause more severe problems. Because of this, anytime we note foundation issues, we always recommend further evaluation from a licensed engineer to further assess the property, as the repairs to foundations are costly and may make you wish you bought a different house.
Roof Needs to Be Replaced: The lifespan of roofing varies depending on the quality of the material, the way that it was installed, the environment it is installed in, and other conditions. Because of this, its risky to try and evaluate the remaining lifespan of a roof, so when we start to see signs of age or deterioration on a roof, or evidence of a leak we like to recommend a professional evaluation by a roofer. Unfortunately, roof repairs are expensive, and if not performed could cause even more expenses when things under the roof get wet. While roof repairs may not kill a sale, being told that your roof needs to be replaced just might, unless the seller is willing to make a significant concession on the final price.
Cooling System Needs to Be Replaced: This one is straightforward; HVAC work is expensive in the summer, and that’s exactly when your AC always breaks down. Repairs can easily end up in the high $100’s when you’re talking about compressor replacements on old units, and it gets more expensive if the system uses R-22. Really old systems just need to be replaced, and this will easily cost $1000’s. When I see an old unit that runs on R-22, I always make note to prospective buyers to budget for the replacement.
Federal Pacific/Zinsco Electrical Panels: The old electrical panels, often found as sub-panels in the garage, are notorious fire-hazards that have been out of manufacture for decades. Finding the replacement breakers for these items can be costly, and finding an electrician who is willing to work on these electrical hazards and risk getting sued is difficult. When I see these panels, I always recommend replacement as one of the first things to do when the sale closes. That said, you can expect to spend $1000 or more on the panel replacement, depending on location and size. While this isn’t necessarily a deal killer, it is yet another expense that someone is going to have to pay for, and I’d rather that person not be my client.
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