The top 10 things home inspectors find wrong when doing inspections

Originally published at 95.5 WSB

by Dave Baker

Need some help updating your home but don’t know where to start? I spoke with some leading home inspectors and here are the top 10 things they say they find wrong when doing inspections…

You are spending more time in and around your house than you usually do. Want to give your house the once over to make sure all is well?

I spoke with some professional home inspectors and here are 10 things they say they find wrong with houses most frequently during inspections…

– Attic pull down stairs improperly installed. The most common problems here are that the stairs are not cut properly to slope uniformly when opened, and the stairs are improperly fastened.

Check yours and make sure there isn’t bowing when the stairs are extended. Also, 16d-penny nails or 1/4″ x 3″ lag screws should be used to fasten the stairs at the top (dry wall screws, deck screws, and finishing nails are NOT acceptable).

– Exterior door locks. Too often inspectors find that deadbolts are not installed properly. A properly installed deadbolt will allow the deadbolt to extend fully and lock in place.

If your deadbolt does not ‘pop’ or extend fully it is easy to tamper with making your home an easier target.

– Insulation. Hmmm – sound familiar. There is probably not an easier way to save money that by having a properly insulated house.

Stick your head up in your attic (be careful on those attic stairs). If you can see the joists on the floor of your attic, then you don’t have enough insulation. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

– Rodent entry and infestation. The most common cause of these pests getting into your house are through gaps between fascia boards and roof decking, damaged attic and crawl space vents, and gaps and openings through foundations and exterior walls.

Depending on the size of the opening use caulk, siding, or metal sheets to cover these gaps and keep the rodents out.

– Smoke and CO alarms. Current code says that you should have a smoke detector in every sleeping room and in each hallway. CO detectors should also accompany them, plus one near any non-vented gas logs.

Can’t stress this enough. One smoke detector in the hallway is not enough protection for you and your family.

– Electrical. Here are just a few of the most common electrical issues inspectors find on a regular basis: 3 wire receptacles on 2 wire circuits, loose or broken receptacles, reverse polarity, double tapped breakers, open junction boxes, no junction boxes, flying splices, AC breaker not sized correctly – and the list goes on.

Your house should have a full electrical inspection at least every two years. They are inexpensive and can save you boatloads of problems, if not your life.

Also – you should have a whole house surge protector installed on your electrical system. Affordable and useful, your house is hit with surges everyday – protect your electronics!

– Deck structures. You spend a lot of happy time out on your deck. Make sure it’s sturdy. Is it attached to the house correctly (bolted?), are there unsupported splices in beams, are you missing handrails or guardrails, are your guardrails too low?

All of these situations can lead to deck failure.

– Grading and surface drainage. If you have issues with water in your basement this is where you start to look. Make sure your grade slopes away from the house. Make sure your concrete (driveways and walkways) drain at appropriate spots.

Also make sure that concrete work is not too close to the house, which can trap water against your foundation.

– Gutters. Loose, sagging gutters can’t effectively do their job. Older gutters can sometimes become sloped in the wrong direction.

Also check to make sure your down spouts extend at least 5 ft away from the foundation of your home, further if your land requires it.

– Roof. I’m not even talking about hail damage here. I’m looking for nail pops, unsealed nail holes, torn and damaged and missing shingles.

Your roof should also be inspected on a regular basis by professionals. You can often get them for free, so take advantage of that.

Bonus Chore – Insurance. If you have replaced your roof or your hvac system or your water heater or had any other major renovation to your home done recently (last 4-5 years) you need to report it to your home insurance company. There is a good chance you will get a break on your insurance rates as they will now be insuring a more modern home than they were. Don’t call the claims agent – call your insurance agent and work with them.

Also – if you have changed jobs, lost your job, or are now working from home, check with your auto insurance people too. You aren’t driving the business miles anymore (a lot of insurance companies call what you are driving now ‘Pleasure Miles’). You will (should) get a reduction in your auto insurance premium as well.

This auto premium reduction has nothing to do with any ‘rebate’ your company may have, or may be sending you.

Now I know you can’t see every single thing, or even know what you are looking at in each instance, but know the signs: water leaking in the house or out of your gutters, circuits failing in your electrical system, water leaking into your basement or crawl, high energy costs, bugs and critters in your house.

Your house is trying to talk to you. Pay attention and keep your house in good shape.