Most common defects on a Home Inspection

Home Inspector with Massachusetts Home Inspections MA. License#566

These are items that I find on an everyday basis. Some of these defective items are what kills the deal at times. If Sellers can take this list and correct any items that they find to be in disorder, the Sale of their home would be less stressful. Let's get to work....


Whole House is Poorly Maintained - Deferred maintenance represents a potential high cost situation to bring the home back into a satisfactory condition. If the present homeowner did not properly care for the home over the years, then someone will need to upgrade the home sooner or later. Preferably sooner. My home inspection report can be utilized as a checklist in order to get the home back up to standards.

Poor Drainage around the Structure - All roof water needs to drain away from the structure at its perimeter, to prevent water intrusion into the basement. Roof gutters, downspouts  and downspout extensions can be installed to rectify any site drainage problems. Grading (sloped away from the foundation) is also very important in this situation. 98% of the homes I inspect absolutely need improvements in grading.

Electrical - Insufficient overload protection to the electrical service and amateur (and often dangerous) wiring connections are my most common everyday issues. Electrical system problems are safety related and require immediate attention by a licensed Electrician.

Inadequate Insulation & Ventilation in Attic - Poor insulation and poor ventilation causes excessive utility costs and lack of occupant comfort. Most older homes require additional insulation, which then requires a ventilation improvement. In other situations... in an effort to save energy, many homeowners have "over sealed" their homes with insulation with no regard to ventilation, resulting in excessive interior moisture due to the inadequate ventilation. Significant moisture and excessive heat build-up within the attic cavity can lead to rapid shingle deterioration, Mold build-up, peeling of exterior paint, rusty nails, energy losses and rotting and failure of both structural and non-structural elements.

Heating/Cooling System Defects - Improper installations, inadequate maintenance, exhaust and combustion issues, aged components, and malfunctioning safety controls are the most frequent issues I encounter on a daily basis.

Roof Issues - Improperly installed and aged roof surfaces occur frequently. I frequently find poorly installed or missing flashing at the transition areas. Repairs may be simple or (at times) the entire roof may need to be replaced.

Minor Structural Damage - Minor structural damage means the house is not likely to fall down, but someone should correct with the problem before it becomes a more serious issue. Such damage is usually caused by water seepage into the foundation, floor joists, rafters or window and door headers are found unstable. First you need to fix the cause of the problem (a leaky roof or improper drainage outside the foundation, for example), then repair or replace any damaged structural members. Inadequate caulking or weather stripping is most common. Obviously, the more extensive the damage, the more expensive it will be to repair.

Plumbing Issues - The most common defects are leaking gaskets, deteriorated cast iron waste pipes, leaking and outdated problematic systems like polybutylene and galvanized piping and any incompatible piping materials. Repairs can often be made by a licensed Plumber but on occasion, a total system replacement is the only solution.

Air and Water Penetrating Cracks and Window Perimeters at Exterior - Foundation cracks and separations at basement windows can allow water into the wall cavities which is conducive to rot and Mold growth.

Attic Structural Damage - Cut, modified and broken trusses, rafters and floor joists are often found in attic cavities and on occasion I also find structural components missing. Usually carpentry repairs are needed, however I find it is rarely an imminent safety hazard.

Termite and other wood destroying organisms - Due the local environment and conducive conditions. All wood boring insect damage can absolutely be corrected. Costs will always depend on how excessive the insect damage is. Termite damage found in any sill area will be very costly.

Fire safety issues - Related to Electrical issues and fireplaces & wood stoves are often neglected.

Comments (10)

Christina Lackey
Coldwell Banker Prime Properties - North Syracuse, NY
Syracuse Central New York Real Estate
It was interesting for me to read this post because most of the problems are the same in my area.  It's nice to know it's that same everywhere.
May 03, 2007 11:37 PM
Dave Sulvetta
Dave Sulvetta, eXp Connection, Gloucester County Realtor - Gloucester Twp, NJ

Thank you for your post!!!

I refer to an EXCELLENT home inspector. He has cost me a few deals but im ok with that! I want my clients to get the best deal possible. I refer him regularly.

Thanks again 


May 03, 2007 11:48 PM
Christopher Benedict
BIG Realty - Collegeville, PA
Yes, many of these do come up, and many times because the Sellers bought the home and did nothing to upgrade the home, and it needed repairs when THEY bought it!
May 03, 2007 11:51 PM
Doreen McPherson
Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe - Tempe, AZ
Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~

Thanks for pointing these out.  As a new Realtor, I am wondering how to tactfully make sure these are looked at during inspections?  Would it be appropriate to ask in advance for a list of what is inspected?    Thanks, Doreen

May 03, 2007 11:52 PM
Colorado Springs Real Estate
Colorado Springs, CO

I counted 8/12 of those always show up on my inspection reports. With the other 4 showing up hear and there.

May 04, 2007 12:58 AM
J Perrin Cornell
Coldwell Banker Cascade Real Estate - Wenatchee, WA
i almost never see a home that a) there isn't reversed polarity on the outlet orb) hot neutral. Another common one is Lack of or inoperative GFI. Older homes ventilation in crawl space is usually an issue and adequate high and low vents in an attic. The other one that often comes up is double taps in the main panel. But there is always something new and different!
May 04, 2007 01:40 AM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections


You're asking for a list of items that are inspected on a daily basis.....

Here ya go....


May 04, 2007 10:52 AM
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
Good post David.  Most of the things you have brought up are probably the same in all areas.  One thing that may be different is Wood Destroying Organisms.  Different parts of the country have different species of WDOs.  In fact, in my state, different parts of the state have different species.  For instance, dampwood termites are fairly common in Western Washington but not East of the mountains.  Subterranean termites are fairly common in Eastern Washington, but uncommon West of the mountains.  All the coastal areas have Anobiid beetles (probably the most common and destructive WDO in Washington).  Some mistakenly call these powderpost beetles.  True powderpost attack hardwoods.  Anobiids attack softwoods, which is why they can do so much structural damage (the primary structural wood being Douglas Fir, a softwood).
May 05, 2007 04:02 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information
Very good post David. Yes there is always something new and different!
Jun 13, 2007 03:42 AM
Erica Wallace
the Wallace Consulting Group - Boston, MA
Thanks for this list. It's a good list for all of us to use with clients to show common items that come up. 
Aug 16, 2007 04:19 PM