10 Most Common Problems in Homes

Some buyers expect that just because a home is fairly new, there will be no problems with it.  But there are always surprised in home inspections even in new homes or when you least expect it.  Here are the 10 most common home defects:

1.  Roofing Problems

Defects in the roof is likely found in the majority of homes.  Roofing material can be affected by a number of problems ranging from aging, wear, to improper installation.  This does not necessarily mean the roof is going to need replaced but it is likely in need of some sort of maintenance or repair.

2.  Ceiling Stains

Ceiling stains are an indication of roof leaks either in the past of even a present problem.  The issue is that it is unable to determine whether this is a current problem unless the inspection occurs on a rainy day.  Some stains are merely remains from a past problem that has been adequately repaired.  Stains can also be residual from former plumbing leaks in the attic.

3.  Water Intrusion

Ground water conditions can lead to water entering basements or crawlspaces.  Water intrusion can be extensive, damaging, and difficult to eradicate.  Conversely, repairs can be as simple as regrading the exterior ground or adding gutters.  The problem is, often the only solution is a major drainage improvement through costly ground water systems designed by geotechnical engineers.

4.  Electrical Safety Hazards

This problem is especially prevalent in older homes.  Examples of electrical safety hazards include ungrounded outlets, lack of ground fault interrupters, faulty wiring, etc.  They may be errors from construction but often are as a result of wiring added or altered by people who are not electricians.

5.  Rotten Wood

Rotten wood can occur at building exteriors or plumbing fixtures; basically anywhere wood stays wet for long periods of time as in roof eaves, exterior trim, decks, around tubs/showers, or below loose toilets.  This makes it very probably that fungus will occur which can result in dryrot.  Left untreated, the damage can become very expensive.

6.  Unpermitted Additions/Alterations

Homeowners at times will build additions or undergo renovations without a permit.  This is likely to result in problems because no one can no the entire building code and the average person knows very little so these houses are likely to have structural or other problems.

7.  Hazardous Fireplaces 

Fireplaces and chimneys can be unsafe for a number of reasons from lack of maintenance to faulty fixture installation.  Most commonly found is a lack of spark arrestors or substandard placement of wood-burning stoves.  Free-standing fireplaces are usually installed by homeowners without adequate knowledge of fire safety requirement.  Commonly found in this case is insufficient clearance between hot metal and combustible materials.  These fire hazards can be in the attic where they are concealed until the occurrence of a roof fire.

8.  Faulty Installation of Water Heaters

Less than 5% of water heaters are installed that fully comply with plumbing code.  Violations range from inadequate strapping, improperly installed overflow piping, unsafe flue, or faulty gas piping.  Additionally, water heaters today are designed to last for a shorter period of time so leaks can develop in units that are only 5 years old.

9.  Hazardous Gas Heaters

Gas-fueled heaters typically need some maintenance although it can be as simple as changing the air filter or an overdue review by the gas company.  Problems can be much more dangerous and some gas heaters have life-threatening defects that often remain undiscovered until the damage has been done and lives lost.  Problems range from fire safety violations to carbon dioxide being released into the house.

10.  Firewall Violations in Garages

When separating a garage from a home, special fire-resistive construction is required for walls and doors.  Violations are due to faulty construction, damage, or alterations as well as changes in code since the home was built.


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