Home Inspection Red Flags

Home inspections are one of the last steps to get completed when purchasing a home, however they can be among the most stressful. Inspections are unavoidable; they have to be done, and generally, they will come back with at least one issue. While many problems are no big deal, and getting them fixed prior to purchase should not be a problem, other difficulties are really not a good idea to deal with, and may warn you of impending catastrophe if you decide to proceed with ownership. If any of the following items appears on the inspection of the home you’re looking at, be prepared to jump ship, if not, proceed extremely cautiously from that point on.

  • Aluminum Wiring: Used as a cheaper alternative to copper in the 1970’s, aluminum wiring presents a range of dangers, one of them being causing fire because it is known to expand and contract when exposed to heat. If a home is found to have aluminum wiring, it needs to be completely re-worked/ replaced with copper, and this expense costs thousands of dollars.
  • Foundation Issues: Dealing with foundation problems can be extremely costly, and can take an enormous amount of time to repair, making them one of the greatest deal-breakers for potential homeowners. If foundation issues are indicated, hire a licensed structural engineer for proper examination, to fully understand what lies ahead.
  • Upgrades Done Without Permits: Done without proper permits from the city and/ or county can result in errors that won’t be covered on the home insurance policy, so try to get as much information as possible regarding all repairs and improvements that have been done.
  • Plumbing with Polybutylene Pipes: These pipes were popular in the 1980’s as a low-cost alternative to copper pipes, but they degenerated quickly because they could not hold up against chlorinated water, resulting in catastrophic leaks and flooding. The problem is, is that many homes still have these pipes in use because an issue has not occurred yet. However, in these cases it’s not a matter of if, but when, and when it happens, the cost to replace all piping will run in the vicinity of over $10,000.
  • Underground Oil Tanks: These used to be a common (yet dangerous) source of energy for heating homes back in the day, and they were filled with propane. In some cases, these tanks still exist, and they can be a potential hazard waiting to happen. In the event of leaks, the cost to remove these tanks can run in upwards of $10,000, so be warned!