I’ve inspected a lot of homes, and every one has had defects. Brand new homes, one hundred year old homes, and homes in between, every single one of them had defects. Making you aware of the defects of any home is my job as a home inspector. As a new home buyer, are there any home defects that could put money in your pocket? This article explains in further detail those home defects that could help you.
This article originally appeared on hireaninspector.com
Virtually every house has defects. Some of them are total deal breakers. But some could put more money in your pocket at the closing table.
According to the real estate website, Trulia, nearly 40 percent of home sales in the past two years have been up-ended. The hardest-hit demographic has been first-time home buyers, and the most likely homes are older ones, which often have more defects.
But if you switch gears and think about the financial possibilities, an unfortunate home inspection report could turn into an all-around win for buyer and seller. Here are a few defects that turn off a lot of buyers but could help you keep more of your hard-earned money.
#1: Damp Basement or Crawlspace
If the basement or crawlspace takes on water, that’s a bad sign, right? Not necessarily. Water infiltration should be corrected as soon as possible. But in many cases, the solution is as simple as a shovel and maybe a load of topsoil or gutter repair.
The soil grade around a house should slope away from the foundation. If it slopes toward it, water from will flow downhill and collect under the house. Adding topsoil or correcting the existing soil slope could fix the problem.
Water can also enter the crawlspace or basement if gutters are backed up or the downspouts don’t route water away. Gutter cleaning or downspout extenders might solve the problem.
If neither of those solves the problem, a series of French drains around the foundation will likely keep the basement or crawlspace dry.
#2: Inadequate Electrical Wiring
There’s a big difference between hazardous wiring and an electrical system that’s merely behind the times. Modern code varies by locale, but many areas now require:
- One outlet per 6 feet of wall space
- One outlet within 6 feet of every doorway
- GFCI protection in wet areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry
- AFCI protection for bedrooms
- Hardwired smoke detectors
If the home’s wiring is hazardous, replacing it could cost a small fortune. But if it only needs an upgrade to meet the demands of modern living, a qualified electrician could make it livable without an exorbitant cost or time investment.
#3: Freezing Cold or Blistering Hot Temperatures
Don’t be too quick to decline a house with a climate control issue. As long as the HVAC system is in good repair, the property might only need more insulation and a few tubes of caulk and silicone.
Insulation is one of the most inexpensive home improvements that you can make, and it comes with a big payoff. An extra layer in the attic will help keep warm air in during the wintertime and protect the home from unwanted heat gain in summer.
Air leaks make any room feel chilly. But caulk or silicone quickly seal gaps around doors and windows. For bigger air leaks, a spray can of expanding urethane foam insulation does the trick.
It’s good to be skeptical, but don’t let it ruin what could be great real estate deal.
#4: Ordinary Ugliness and Smelliness
A home inspector won’t take off points for an ugly bathroom, hideous paint or stinky smells. But those can turn off a buyer who thinks cosmetic work is more expensive than it is.
Paint is the universal cure-all for ugly walls. Even high-quality paint is inexpensive compared to its power to improve a room’s appearance. A coat of shellac primer under the paint permanently seals out the acrid smell of old cigar smoke.
If the bones of the home are in great shape, it’s a good idea to think twice before walking away from a house with a few defects. The money you save by purchasing a less-than-perfect home could make the out-of-pocket expenses affordable. The bigger the defect, the better the bargaining tool.
You and the seller have a common goal: to change ownership of the house. By working together and negotiating a better asking price, the seller won’t have to relist the house and you won’t have to keep looking for the perfect home.
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