By Jameson Malgeri
Purchasing a home is not always an easy process. It’s emotional, it’s stressful, and it’s overwhelming. After falling in love with a home you must go through negotiations, compete with other buyers, and obtain a home inspection. Home inspections are a stressful process of pointing out all the defects in the home you love, during an already turbulent time for buyers. No home is perfect and there are always problems, but it can be hard for buyers to distinguish between what should and should not get them worried. I thought it would be helpful to discuss some of the most common issues that come up that ARE NOT things to freak out about.
Missing GFCI Protection
When you really think about it, practically everything wrong with your electrical system is a safety concern. Home inspectors are required by our standards of practice to identify safety hazards and call them as such. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are for shock protection. They are required in wet locations throughout the home and are frequently missing. Safety hazard? Yes. Reason to freak out? No. Adding GFCI protection can be as simple as adding different receptacles or changing out a breaker, a small task for an electrician. There are some conditions in the home that are more serious issues related to this problem like issues with the branch wiring feeding the receptacle, but the condition itself is not a significant job.
If there is one thing home inspectors love more than missing GFCI’s it’s missing handrails. Again, another safety concern, given the falling hazard, but adding handrails to most stairs is relatively simple. This is not to say all stair issues are easy to fix as there are often many that are not, but adding handrails can be easily done by a qualified handyman.
Sink Trap Issues
Home inspectors love looking at all the creative ways people connect vanities to the waste system. Homeowners love changing out vanities as part of their DIY projects. The result is often S traps, Air Admittance Valves, Improper Traps, Missing Vents, and other unique creations. That added to old drum traps, traps under floors, and plain old leaks we see a lot of issues. The good news is the drain piping under the sink is often made of inexpensive material and assuming everything in the wall is fine, making repairs under the vanity is a small job in most situations.
Surface water plays a huge role in basement moisture issues and home inspectors get really excited about correcting grading, drainage, and downspout issues. It is extremely common to see downspouts terminate right next to the foundation, even on new homes. While this is an important repair, adding extensions or leaders to get the rainwater further away is a simple project. Many homeowners can do it themselves with a little guidance, but they need to avoid using just splash blocks and flexible extenders.
These are just a few examples, we come across very regularly. We could discuss dozens of similar examples and I have in the past written very similar articles. The fact remains, even if your home inspector gets excited to talk about a subject doesn’t mean you should hit alarm bells. If your home inspector doesn’t spell them out on his own, ask what the most significant issues from the inspection are and focus on those. We like to discuss the principal concerns or most important items at the end of each inspection and reinforce that information by having those items color-coded in red in the report. We want to stay true to the home and getting you freaked out about more insignificant issues is not what we want or intend.
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