Home Inspection Series - Part 6: Problems to ask your Inspector about

When you see the following problems listed as a concern in your inspection report, be sure to ask more questions to find out how serious the problem is and how much it will cost you to remedy.  If the inspector writes “N/A”, “can’t be determined” or worse, left blank beside any of the following problems, be sure to bring a specialist in so you have a clear understanding of the extent of the issue.

Electrical problems: Almost every home has an electrical problem, some a missing ground or reverse polarity to under sized breakers and panels. Homes built before 1955 may have 60 amp services, and may not be insured by some companies until they're upgraded. This type of outlet will have only two prongs.  Houses older than 40 years may have aluminum, or even worse, knob and tube, wiring. Insurance companies may not insure homes that contain certain types of wiring. If you really love the house, be sure to have an electrician come in to determine the amount of aluminum or knob and tube wiring. Often aluminum wiring issues can be remedied for minimal expense.

Foundation cracking: In most cases, foundation failure is a result of poor surface drainage. Look for a vertical crack eight inches in from the corners. Where there is one, there is a companion probably below grade.  Look for water stains on the sides of the crack to see if water has been seeping into the home through the crack.  It would be advisable to get a foundation expert in to provide you with a detailed report on the necessary reparations. 

Ice damming: Ice dams are responsible for clogged and damaged eavestroughs, wet insulation in the roof and walls. Wet wood, paint failure and decay will result if the problem persists.  Ensure your inspector goes on the roof to check the integrity of the roof.

Galvanized plumbing: Galvanized pipes are usually found in homes over 50 years in age. Commonly, these pipes will rust from the inside out, often restricting waterflow.  Eventually the pipe becomes blocked or bursts. Importantly, some insurance companies are now refusing to provide homeowner's insurance on houses with this type of plumbing.

Structural problems:  Watch for over-spanned beams or poorly reinforced beams especially when a post is moved for basement renovations.   Over spanned beams can cause roofs to sag over time (especially with heavy snow accumulation) resulting in serious damage and serious expense!  If renovations have been done in the basement, ask your inspector to ensure load bearing walls were not removed or main supports compromised.  You may also run into this issue if an older home has been converted into an ‘Open Concept’ style.

Poor air barrier and insulation: Just about every home inspected requires additional caulking and insulation. The investment in caulking is returned in just a few months and additional insulation in key areas can have a ROI in less than three years.  Be sure your inspector goes up into the attic to check the level of insulation.  As most of your heat will escape through the roof, it is important to be sure you are properly insulated.

Improper venting: A major issue can be found in the bathroom.  Problems occur when vents are not vented directly outdoors. If you have a basement bathroom, ensure it is vented outside.  Sometimes basement bathrooms will be put in by the home owner without proper permits and proper venting is overlooked.
Source: Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors

Top 3 defects

Problems revealed by home inspections vary depending on the construction type and age of the home. Still, there are three common problems which all carry significant cost. The life-cycle of these items is approximately 20 years, at which time these systems often need to be replaced.

1. Shingles or flat roof: For energy efficiency, structural damage and, for a flat roof, snow accumulation can lead to serious damage, leakage or collapse. 

2. Furnace: For safety, energy efficiency and operating costs, ensure the age of the existing system.

3. Central air conditioning: For energy efficiency and operating costs.  As with the furnace, it is important to understand the age of all mechanical parts of the home.  If they are all at the end of their lifespan, you could be looking at significant expenses for new parts.
Source: Pappas Home Inspections Inc.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington, Hamilton, Oakville, or Toronto Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit the Sean Kavanagh Real Estate Resource Centre at www.seansells.ca, or at www.seankavanagh.ca   I'd be happy to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs.  Follow me on TWITTER or FACEBOOK!  You can also contact me at 905-220-9198 or at www.realestatechat.ca as I am now a moderator on the Ontario Real Estate chat forum as well as the Burlington, Ontario sub-forum.


Sean Kavanagh


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Sean Kavanagh

Sean Kavanagh

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CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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