No house is perfect. Even the best built and best maintained homes will always have a few items in less than perfect condition. Below are some of the items we most commonly find when inspecting a home:
Roofing Problems with roofing material are the single most common defect we find. Usually it doesnt mean the roof needs replaced, simply that it is in need of maintenance or repair.
Ceiling stains Caused by past or present leaks, ceiling stains are very common. It can be difficult to tell whether the stains are from leaks still present, or were caused by leaks which have since been repaired.
Electrical hazards Most common in older homes, but often found in newer homes as well. Electrical hazards come in many forms, from ungrounded outlets to wiring done incorrectly by the homeowner.
Rotted wood Caused by being wet for extended periods of time, most commonly found around tubs, showers and toilets inside, or roof eaves and trim outside.
Water heater installations Many water heaters are not installed in full compliance with local plumbing code.
Gas furnace Most gas furnaces seem to be in need of routine maintenance such as new filters or gas company certification at the least. Many have other issues such as faulty operation or inadequate fire clearance as well.
Plumbing defects Plumbing issues commonly found include dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, slow drains etc... Even in brand new homes, it is common to identify minor plumbing defects.
Unsafe Fireplace and Chimney Conditions:
These can range from lack of maintenance, such as neglecting to hire a chimney sweep, to faulty installation of fixtures. Most common among these are the lack of spark arrestors and substandard placement of wood-burning stoves. Free-standing fireplaces are typically installed by home owners and handymen, people without an adequate knowledge of fire safety requirements. The most common violations in these cases involve insufficient clearance between hot metal surfaces and combustible materials within the building. Fire hazards of this kind are often concealed in attics, where they remain undiscovered until a roof fire occurs.
Firewall Violations In Garages:
Special fire-resistive construction is required for walls and doors that separate a garage from a dwelling. Violations are common, either due to faulty construction, damage or alterations to the garage interior, or changes in code requirements since the home was built. In older homes, where firewalls are not installed, sellers and agents will often say that the building predates the code. However, the fire separation requirement for residential garages dates back to 1927.
Building Violations Where Additions and Alterations Were Constructed without Permits:
Homeowners will often tell a home inspector, "We added the garage without a permit, but it was all done to code." This statement is a red flag to most home inspectors, because no one could possibly know the entire building code, and the average person without professional involvement with the code is likely to know very little of it. Whenever an owner offers code assurance, I know that problems are likely to be found.