Each of us approach an inspection from a different perspective when we are talking buyers, sellers, inspectors and Realtors...but the end result should be some clarity about the conditions found and good information leading to a "buy or no buy" conclusion. This decision is the buyers to make (not mine).
Having said that, what's really important to me as a home inspector, is that the client feels we have given them good service.
In thinking through this blog I felt we would discuss significantly important problems and how they should be dealt with... to try to inform and keep the potential for a "buy conclusion".
The ten most critical problems we typically find, will be split up into a couple of bloggettes as this can get wordy. So I'll do it in installments.
#1 Basement Water Problems:
Wet basements are the most significant reason why people balk at buying houses. The thought of items bobbing in a foot of water is certainly scary. Mold and damages caused by uncontrolled water can cause major expense. Water stains and efflorescence (white powdery deposits on walls and foundation) indicate seepage, stains below basement windows, window wells and vents are all clues to water intrusion.
While the owner of a home should be aware that the home takes in water, many times disclosure forms are less than honest. "We get a little water in the basement in heavy rain" is what we often see listed. But if the picture is honestly drawn, a seller might admit they would never leave anything valuable on the basement floor.
If you have such a problem get 3 quotes on basement waterproofing. Be honest in your disclosure statements.
The job usually consists of jackhammering the perimeter concrete slab and setting perforated pipes in gravel under the slab. This directs the water to a sump pit, and then pumping it out is a great and oft successful fix.
Some people will order and install a battery back up. This will give the pump a few hours additional power when there are power shortages and outages. Generators are another good idea.
Waterproofing a home with small areas leaching water in, can start at around a grand and build to 4-5 thousand dollars to install.
The good news is, most basements are fixable. Many companies will offer waterproofing warranties.
As a home inspector we will note previous water entry, efflorescence salts on a wall, standing water, soft wood or seepage in our report. Most of the time it is a result of poor grading. We will recommend getting quotes and estimates for repairs on the outside. However the inside fix gives a buyer a much better feeling that the problem has been fixed.
As a seller... be honest in the disclosure form. Get quotes on the fix and show them to prospective buyers. Be prepared to negotiate for the cost of the fix. Many buyers will up the anti for the fix, figuring additional expense for unseen problems and difficulty finding a contractor will add to the hassle. Sometimes it is a better strategy if the seller adds a system before the sale and ups the sales price to cover the costs.
As a buyer I'd want it fixed by the closing. with at least a one year warranty . I wouldn't even want to think about hiring a contractor... to much responsibility. Also if it is done by the seller it is part of the buyers mortgage and not an out of pocket expense.
As a Realtor for the buyer , I would advise the sellers that the buyers are very concerned that their possessions will be damaged and that they want the basement fixed before closing with a warranty.
#2 Roofing Problems... check back tomorrow...