Falling in love with a home at first sight is easy. Remaining committed after the inspection may seriously test the devotion of any homebuyer, especially when it comes to older homes. Beneath all that charm and character, problems can fester; which is why it’s worth paying the approximately $400 it costs for a professional home inspection before you buy the home of your dreams.
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the standard home inspection covers information concerning the condition of everything from the home’s HVAC system, interior plumbing and electrical systems to the condition of the roof, attic (including visible insulation,) walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the basement and foundation, and the home’s structural elements.
Here we offer some fixes and secondary repairs that home sellers may want to address before listing their home, and those that home buyers shouldn’t consider “deal breakers” when they appear on the inspection report of the house they’re hoping to buy.
Non-emergency repairs that can be addressed over time:
Since home-inspection reports are so extensive, they sometimes reveal less-pressing or noticeable problems like an air conditioning malfunction, leaks in a window or door, or cracks in flooring. Although these are issues that need to be corrected at some point, they pose no immediate danger. However, if you’re like me and prefer to knock out the non-emergency repairs right away, here’s a taste of what you might be looking at from a cost perspective:
- Door repair: Some items, such as a bad doorknob or broken lock, can be fixed fairly inexpensively with parts bought at the local hardware store. However, if the door is structurally damaged or doesn’t fit its frame, it might need to be replaced. If the door needs replacing, count on spending $240 to $350.
- Clean ducts and vents: Clogged and dirty ducts and vents may impact the amount of air your home is able to circulate, which makes it difficult to regulate the indoor temperature. Depending on the extent of neglect, you can count on spending anywhere from $320 to $430 to have them cleaned.
- Repair an air conditioning system: Odd noises and noticeably diminished cold air may be simple fixes. However, if the problem is serious—an inefficient duct system, for instance, or a more serious problems with the unit itself, it may need replacing. Count on spending $350 to $510 or more get the A/C running smoothly.
- Window repairs: cracks, leaks and pane repair are easy fixes, but if the window itself is unsound it might need to be replaced. The home inspector’s report should detail the extent of the problem you’re facing with any window issues. Expect to spend between $310 and $450 (and up) to fix or replace one or more windows.
Fixes that shouldn’t wait:
Any time a home inspector reports problems with the roof, ceilings or foundation, these are the repairs that must be made immediately in order to steer clear of more dangerous (and costly) problems ahead. Some more serious problems and repair costs can include:
- Roof Repair: Problems including leaks, ice dams, missing shingles and vermin are roofing issues that should not be put off. If the inspector finds that the roof is nearing the end of its life, the potential buyer may want to negotiate the cost of a new roof in the home’s asking price, or expect to replace it themselves. Roof repairs or replacement can run $730 to $1,100.
- Water heater replacement: Since an aging water heater is not an unusual thing to find in a home inspection report, it should be replaced right away to avoid creating new problems with plumbing and heating, especially in the winter. Replacing a water heater before something goes wrong is the most cost-effective way to address it. Plan on spending up to $1,100, depending on the extent of the problem and the size of the water heater you need.
- Foundation repair: When the home inspector discovers a serious problem with the home’s foundation, it must be addressed immediately to prevent damage (or further damage) to the home. If it turns out to need piering or slabjacking to make the foundation level again, it can get very expensive. Unfortunately, you have to act immediately to remove any risk of further damage to the home. Foundation work is expensive; you’re looking at an expense that can run between $3,580 and $5,400.
If a house fails a home inspection, what’s next?
Luckily, a home cannot “fail” an inspection, since inspections are about examining the house’s individual parts, not testing its safety. The purpose is to examine and detail the overall health of the home and list the repairs that the inspector deems necessary, whether immediately or down the road. To find a home inspector, ask your realtor for a recommendation.