What's the greatest problem you see in homes?

Home Inspector with PWC Inspection Service

Water, Water, Water...

I get asked this question all the time and I think folks are a little surprised when I answer "Water".

Go outside and look at your roof.  Now imagine an inch of rain falls in the next 20 minutes.  Where will all that water go?  You better hope it falls into the gutter, down the down-pipe, out the 6 foot extension and away, away away.  Remember, water will not run uphill.  If it puddles in your yard then it will make its way to your foundation.  You won't see it, but below the surface it will be applying pressure to your foundation walls.  That innocent looking horizontal crack in your tuck-under garage is most likely a bowed wall just crying for support.

Things that make me shake my head...

  • Finding down spout extensions in the attic.
  • "You can do it. We can help" electrical projects.
  • "You can do it. We can help" plumbing projects.
  • "You can do it. We can help" decks.
  • Furnace filters that look like original equipment.
  • Attics with boxes.
  • Wood burning anythings.
  • Young couples buying old homes.

Take care of your home and it will take care of you.


Comments (29)

Danny Smith
Paul good statement about Water being the biggest issue! However here in Central Texas it's more the lack of water that causes the foundations to crack. We recommend that folks water once in awhile not excessively around the foundation to prevent this. Mold can be an issue as well because of the humid conditions here.
Mar 15, 2007 01:25 AM
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Water, as much as I love it is usually the killer of real estate deals. It never fails to amaze me that homeowners don't route the flow away from their homes. Then it's the first thing the inspector picks on. DUH! 
Mar 15, 2007 01:42 AM
Robert Hammerstein -201-315-8618
Christie's International Real Estate - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Welcome Paul and congrats on your Featured Star!

We tell people all the time that it's so easy to keep an eye on the possible effects and damage of water before it occurs and it is amazing how people just don't want to do what it takes to be a good homeowner.  We posted a list on it here on AR and we just apply common sense and take the responsibility of a Good Homeowner.  It's that easy.  Great post and thanks for sharing it with us.

Lisa Hammerstein

Mar 15, 2007 02:01 AM
Michael Mahoney
Century 21 - Boston, MA
Boston Realtor with Century 21

I recently had a home where we brought in a basement company. They indicated that they could make the basement bone dry for the life of the home with a transferable warranty. The price of this would have been $5500. This was for about 100 linear feet of basement.


Mar 15, 2007 02:09 AM
Scott Gormley
Oak Valley Mortgage-California Home Loans and Refinancing - Chico, CA

I have a great appraiser that points out such things to my clients. For example, the other day he told one of them to not have wood lying up against the side of the house because moisture and termites are evil with wooden built homes.

Great post and welcome to AR!


Mar 15, 2007 02:34 AM
Terry Collins II
HomeSmart ICARE Realty - Sacramento, CA
If it involves real estate, I'm there.
I have lost count of the homes that loose value due to water damage. Next thing I know, my customers are getting a higher interest rate on their home loans because of of the "loan to value ratio", an explanation they do not care to hear. Great post. Thank you.
Mar 15, 2007 03:05 AM
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley
Yes, water is worse than termites in my neck of the woods. Water coming down off a hill is especially problemmatic. Always ask "where does that water go?"  It seems to have a magnetic attraction for the house...
Mar 15, 2007 03:30 AM
Lori Metcalf
I agree. Water is a "value-killer" when selling a home. Sellers -- if you have any type of water problem it is better to disclose,disclose, disclose than to try to pretend it isn't there. A trained agent with the buyer's best interests in mind will always "sniff it out".
Mar 15, 2007 04:35 AM
Brian Papaccio
Wells Fargo Home Loans - Newark, DE

I think it dependes on the region.  I am getting to the point of moving up and selling my current home and I was very worried about watter issues in our basement. (not disclosed to me when I purchased the home, and learned too late that I could have done something about it).  I talk about this all the time to the real estate agents I know.  Many of them say that the area we live in minimal water puddling in heavy rain is almost expected.  Delaware is a flat state, soil is mostly harder clays that don't absorb much, and there are tons of creeks, rivers, ponds, resiviors, etc. in the area.  some times there is just no where for the water to go and if it is a 40+ year old house, you may get some water.

I am still nervous.  I would not have bought this house had I known there was any water at all.  It was the reason we didn't buy other homes we looked at.

Mar 15, 2007 04:49 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN
Unless you live in the desert, I agree that water related problems are at the top of the list of problems that home inspectors find.  Paul it is good to see you posting.
Mar 15, 2007 05:29 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Depending on where you live ofcourse, what with the natural elements, etc.    Water would be up on the lise along with leaking roofs. 

Patricia Aulson/SEACOAST NH & ME


Mar 15, 2007 05:33 AM
joanne Douglas
Terrie O'Connor Realtors - Ridgewood, NJ
I take it you're not a fan of Home Depot but must agree that electrical, plumbing and decks over 6-inches from the ground should definitely not be left to the novice 'weekend warrior'

I am curious about Attics with Boxes??  What is that?  Duh --- just read what you wrote as I typed it --- storage in the attic?  Am I right?  

Mar 15, 2007 06:48 AM
Neal Bloom
Brokered by eXp Realty LLC - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate

You want water problems, come live in the Everglades, as soon as rainy season starts, the floodgates open, I had to add gravel for drainage near my front door entrance.

Not to mention the black mold from the water.

Mar 15, 2007 11:29 AM
Debbie White
Southeast Alaska Real Estate - Juneau, AK

Nice post, and congrats on the yellow star!

Here in Southeast Alaska we get 100 inches precipitation per year.  We had record rainfalls last year and are now going for 2nd place with the snow.  I cannot imagine what a mess it will be when it melts.

I thought maybe you were close to me when I saw the post, but it looks like water is the issue everywhere!

Mar 15, 2007 11:49 AM
Ethan Pruett
BrioRealty - Olympia, WA
Water is a sneaky devil and can destroy transactions
Mar 15, 2007 12:13 PM
Roger Stensland
Keller Williams Realty Puget Sound - Maple Valley, WA
Let's Move!
Having had to fix a few water problems in the house that I live in, I can just imagine how bad it can be in some of the neglected homes.  No fun!
Mar 15, 2007 04:50 PM
Darren Kittleson
Keller Williams Realty - Madison, WI

Great Post-

Water is our issue to in southern Wisconsin.  What amazes me is quite often it's a simple solution to a potentially HUGE problem, yet gets neglected until the damage is great!

As for the DIY craze...where I see it most impacting is when the weekend warrior tears into a project and doesn't pull the required permits from the local municipality in an effort to "Save on Taxes" then comes time to sell and a buyer wants reassurance that the proper permits were pulled....That's when the fun begins.  What a headache.

Mar 18, 2007 02:48 AM
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
Inspector Mike - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.

Most of the problems that I find are due to lack of maintenance.

People take better care of their cars than their homes.

Mar 18, 2007 10:40 AM
Charley Bottger
Freedom Express Home Inspections - Ponca City, OK

I see to many builders that don't take to heart two simple words. Foundation PAD means foundation elevated above its surrounding landscape.

  I have an infomous saying pertaining to water drainage and builders.  They dig a hole build a home and expect the water to drain away from the foundation. In my area  we have both wet and dry climates to deal with see more foundation damage created from poor or no drainage than problems created by dry and cracking soil. Most home owners will at least water their yards during the dry season and that will normaly suffice the amount of water necessary to prevent the soil from contraction away from the foundation.

Mar 19, 2007 08:41 AM
Charley Bottger
Freedom Express Home Inspections - Ponca City, OK
What makes me reallllly nervous is when I find buckets and small childrens plastic swimming pools in an attic and not near the drop down door. Way back under the valley flashing and nothing on the disclosure statement????? I have actually observed these small swimming pools in the attic with water present. I think someone forgot.
Mar 19, 2007 08:51 AM