Home Inspection Nightmare: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Real Estate Transactions

Purchasing a property can be an exhilarating experience. However, unearthing unexpected foundation issues can quickly transform this journey into a home inspection nightmare. As a home inspector, it’s crucial to be equipped with the knowledge and expertise to identify potential problems that may lurk beneath a property’s surface.

The Role of Home Inspectors in Real Estate Transactions

The job of home inspectors goes beyond just identifying the problems. They are responsible for assessing the extent of the damage, suggesting possible solutions, and estimating the cost to fix the issues. This information allows the Real Estate Agent to negotiate the repair costs, saving the home buyer unexpected expenses after the purchase.

Crawl Space Woes and Unseen Dangers

When home inspectors, such as those from Allsafe Home Inspection Service, explore the crawl space of a property, they often find concealed issues. This can include signs of improper drainage, saturated soil, or even a foundational crack hidden away beneath layers of drywall. Ensuring a thorough inspection of the sub-structure is an essential step in avoiding potential long-term damage and costs associated with repairing such issues.

Windows, Gutter Systems, and More: External Structures Matter

The exterior structures of a home, such as out swinging casement windows and the gutter system, are important focus areas during inspections. A malfunctioning window or a faulty rainwater drain can exacerbate soil pressures around the foundation. An expert inspector will recognize the importance of these external components and their role in maintaining the structural integrity of your home.

The Hidden Hazards of DIY Fixes

Many homeowners attempt DIY fixes, often using duct tape or an extension cord to repair small issues. These band-aid solutions may temporarily cover up the problem, but they could also mask more significant, underlying foundation issues. It’s crucial to have these seemingly minor fixes evaluated by a competent person or a professional home inspector.

Professional Inspection Services: Your Best Bet Against Potential Problems

Our team at Level Engineering is committed to providing comprehensive inspection services. We offer a professional, educated, and trained opinion on potential structural problems in your old house.

Our experts understand that the potential for carbon monoxide leaks, improperly constructed second floor decks, and neglected attic spaces can all result in serious consequences. Our thorough inspections aim to uncover any hidden problems and provide a clear, precise assessment of your property’s structural integrity.

Finding, Fixing, and Future-Proofing: Why Inspections Matter

engaging a professional home inspection service like Level Engineering can help you avoid home inspection nightmares. If you need a structural engineer home inspection, located in the Front Range [Fort Collins to Colorado Springs], call us for an estimate. Our home inspectors are ready to ensure that your dream house doesn’t turn into an over capitalized nightmare.

Making Home Inspection Nightmares a Thing of the Past

From inspecting out swinging casement windows to evaluating the stability of a second floor deck, home inspections are a worthy investment. Remember, cutting corners now may lead to a more significant financial burden in the future. A home inspection nightmare can be avoided with a professional home inspection service like Level Engineering.

Identifying and Addressing Home Inspection Nightmares

The process of buying or selling a property can become significantly complex when foundation problems are involved. Many homeowners unknowingly purchase a new home, commence renovations, only to discover a home inspection nightmare—an unexpected foundation issue. These problems are especially prevalent in the Front Range of Colorado, a region with a unique geological history that leads to an array of soil-related foundation issues.

The Impact of Geological History on Home Foundations

Approximately 85 million years ago, Colorado was part of the ocean. As the ocean receded and the Rocky Mountains formed, the layers of the ground were created from silt, clay, and various rock components. Today, these soil elements present numerous challenges to home inspectors like those at Allsafe Home Inspection Service, who often find issues like lateral collapse from external soil pressures and hidden foundation cracks during their inspections.

https://youtu.be/UsV5YO-OVi8

These home foundation nightmares usually happen in unseen areas such as the crawl space. An issue might seem small, like a simple foundation crack hidden by drywall or an improperly fixed issue with duct tape or an extension cord. Still, it could indicate more severe problems. This is why the role of professional home inspectors is crucial in real estate transactions.

How Home Inspectors Can Unearth Hidden Foundation Issues

One such instance was a home that stood stable for almost 50 years but suddenly experienced severe foundation movement. This lateral collapse from external soil pressures caused the wall to rotate six inches. An inspector from Level Engineering discovered that an adjacent city storm sewer had failed, and the underground water was the culprit behind the collapse. The repair of this foundation issue cost the homeowner $35,000, an expense they hadn’t anticipated when they were taking care of their house.

Brick Wall

What is a Structural Engineer Inspection?

A structural engineer inspection, home inspection, or structural assessment is a detailed evaluation of a building's structure and components. This includes the foundation, walls, floors, roof, plumbing, electrical, and more. A structural engineer inspection aims to identify any potential issues with the structure that may affect its stability or pose safety hazards.

Uncovering Hidden Hazards During Home Renovations

Another common scenario that can prove to be a nightmare involves basement renovations. For instance, during a home inspection, the previous homeowners disclosed an occasional puddle of water in the basement but were unaware of the deeper problem. The new homeowners discovered a large crack in the foundation when they decided to renovate their basement.

The crack, caused by lateral soil pressures, poor drainage, saturated soil, and expanding clay soil pressures against the wall, was hidden behind a perfect-looking drywall. Unseen issues like these require home inspectors to be thorough during their inspections, examining each bathroom, floor, second floor deck, window and drain and taking photo evidence of potential problem areas to monitor any further deterioration. The owners had to fork out a whopping $65000, a significant knock on a real estate investment.

Basement Crack 1

What is a Structural Engineer Inspection?

A structural engineer inspection, home inspection, or structural assessment is a detailed evaluation of a building's structure and components. This includes the foundation, walls, floors, roof, plumbing, electrical, and more. A structural engineer inspection aims to identify any potential issues with the structure that may affect its stability or pose safety hazards.

The Consequences of Damaged Gutter Systems

A damaged or poorly maintained rainwater drainage can lead to a variety of issues, making it a crucial factor to consider in a home inspection. Gutters are designed to channel water away from your home’s structure. When they’re damaged, blocked, or improperly installed, water can overflow, causing damage to your home’s siding, foundation, and landscaping.

Basement flooring and poor drainage

Over time, this could result in basement flooding, structural damage, and even mold growth, which could pose significant health risks. During colder months, blocked gutters can lead to the formation of ice dams that can cause extensive roof damage. A professional inspection is vita and any issues found should be repaired promptly to protect the home and maintain its value. With the right care and attention, you can prevent these gutter-related problems and ensure the longevity of your property.

The Importance of Hiring a Licensed Plumber or Professional Home Inspector

In another example, potential buyers noticed an improper renovation in the basement during a home walkthrough. This strange mess made them wonder if it was part of a deeper problem that might cost money to repair if they decided to sell in the future. After an inspection by Level Engineering, it was concluded that the foundation structure was compromised by the previous homeowner’s renovations, which would have a bill of $15,000 to repair.

Foundation Problem 1

What is a Structural Engineer Inspection?

A structural engineer inspection, home inspection, or structural assessment is a detailed evaluation of a building's structure and components. This includes the foundation, walls, floors, roof, plumbing, electrical, and more. A structural engineer inspection aims to identify any potential issues with the structure that may affect its stability or pose safety hazards.

This scenario highlights the importance of hiring a plumber or a professional home inspector to inspect homes, especially old houses, before making a purchase. An inspector can evaluate if everything is up to code and safe, from the gutters to the furnace in the basement.

Below is a list of Typical Plumbing issues in a family home:

Water Supply and Drains

Check the water flow in all taps, showers, and toilets. Look out for low water pressure or slow drains, which could indicate a leak or blockage in the pipes. A plumber can help identify and resolve these issues.

Water Heater

Examine the water heater for signs of rust, leaks, or other damages. An inefficient water heater not only increases energy consumption but can also pose safety risks, especially with gas-powered models where there’s a risk of carbon monoxide leaks.

A good tip when viewing a property or doing an inspection is to open the hot water tap and time how long it takes the water to become hot. If it takes too long the water heater may be located far from the tap and pipes not sufficiently insulated which will result in higher electrical and water bills. If there are particles in the water, it may mean the pipes or water heater are corroded or damaged and require replacing.

Pipes

Inspect visible pipes for leaks, corrosion, or damage. In older homes, pipes might be made of lead or galvanized steel, both of which can cause health and safety concerns.

Sump Pump and Sewer System

If the house has a sump pump in the basement, ensure it’s in good working order to prevent flooding. Check the condition of the sewer system or septic tank as well, as issues here can be costly to fix.

Toilets

Ensure the toilet flushes correctly and don’t run continuously after flushing, as this can significantly increase your water bill. Inspecting the areas around the toilets as well any exposed drain pipes and inspection covers will assist in avoiding nasty problems in the future such as cracked pipes or blocked drains.

Identifying Potential Issues Before Making Real Estate Transactions

A successful real estate transaction is dependent on several factors, including a thorough home inspection. Recognizing potential issues early in the process can save you from unexpected costs and future headaches. Here are some tips to help you identify potential problems before finalizing your real estate transaction.

Rusting Reinforcement Crack

Crack 1

What is a Structural Engineer Inspection?

A structural engineer inspection, home inspection, or structural assessment is a detailed evaluation of a building's structure and components. This includes the foundation, walls, floors, roof, plumbing, electrical, and more. A structural engineer inspection aims to identify any potential issues with the structure that may affect its stability or pose safety hazards.

Foundation issues are complex and the cause of foundation failure is unique to each home. The crack shown in the photo above is not due to lateral soil pressures like many homes. This crack was caused by rusting and expanding reinforcement due to chemical incompatibility between the concrete and reinforcement; meaning that a chemical reaction between the concrete aggregates and steel compromised the stability of the foundation.

This is a significant problem for the future of the foundation throughout the basement. It cost $28,000 to slow down the deterioration of the foundation in this isolated area. To completely fix this problem it would cost upwards of 6-figures and a complete foundation reconstruction.

Regular Home Inspections

The first line of defense against home inspection nightmares is a regular home inspection conducted by a professional. They are trained to identify potential issues ranging from a leak in the roof, or an improperly installed second floor deck. At level our experts check just the visible parts of the house but also less visible areas like crawl spaces and attics to ensure peace of mind in real estate transactions

Plumbing Check by a Licensed Plumber

While home inspectors can identify superficial plumbing issues, it’s generally recommended to engage a licensed plumber for a detailed examination. Plumbing issues can be tricky to identify, especially when concealed behind walls or beneath floors. Leaking pipes, improper drainage, or issues with the water heater can turn your real estate transaction into a nightmare.

Foundation Inspection

A significant component often overlooked during home inspections is the foundation. Cracks in the foundation, seepage, or buckling could indicate severe problems. Foundation issues can result in expensive repairs, like the scenarios outlined earlier. A specialized foundation inspection by companies like Level Engineering can help identify such issues early.

Complete Foundation Reconstruction Due to Inadequate Resources

A homeowner purchased a recently updated home, built in the 1930s, at the full market value. A week into living in the home, they decided to renovate the basement. When they tore down the finished drywall, they discovered a completely degraded foundation [pictured above]. This foundation problem ended up delaying their occupancy for 6 months.

Problem Behind Wall 1

What is a Structural Engineer Inspection?

A structural engineer inspection, home inspection, or structural assessment is a detailed evaluation of a building's structure and components. This includes the foundation, walls, floors, roof, plumbing, electrical, and more. A structural engineer inspection aims to identify any potential issues with the structure that may affect its stability or pose safety hazards.

The home was built during the Great Depression when finances were not abundant. When the original home builders filled in the foundation of the home, they did not have adequate resources, resulting in using too little cement in the foundation mixture. After purchasing the home at full market value, it cost the new homeowners $120,000 to do a complete foundation reconstruction.

Checking HVAC Systems

HVAC systems are complex and can be costly to repair or replace. Make sure the inspector examines these systems thoroughly. Carbon monoxide testing should also be done to ensure there are no leaks in the furnace, which can pose a significant health risk.

Roof and Attic Inspection

The condition of the roof and attic is another crucial factor to consider before a real estate transaction. Missing or broken shingles, leaks, or a poorly ventilated attic can lead to costly repairs and may even affect the structural integrity of the house.

Inspecting the Electrical System

A thorough inspection of the electrical system is crucial. Overloaded circuits, old wiring, or improper grounding can be dangerous. An inspector should check for these issues and suggest remedial measures.

Exterior Inspection

The house’s exterior, including the siding, windows, and gutter system, should be checked for any damages or potential issues. For example, the windows should be inspected for any damages, cracks, or improper installation.

By employing these strategies and engaging with professional home inspectors, licensed plumbers, and other service providers like Level Engineering, you can identify potential issues and make a more informed decision about your real estate transaction. This careful and proactive approach can save you from many home inspection nightmares, ensuring that your new property is a safe, sound investment.

If you need a structural engineer home inspection, located in the Front Range [Fort Collins to Colorado Springs], call us for an estimate.

720-408-0119

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Founder and CEO of Level Engineering & Level Design Partners. With more than 4 decades of experience, Scott Zurn has contributed to all aspects of the building industry, serving both public and private sectors. He’s achieved tremendous success in commercial and residential markets, held leadership roles such as building official, city engineer, and director for local governments, and accomplished hundreds of millions of dollars in successful commercial building and civil infrastructure as a designer, project manager, and leader. As the Founder of the Level brand, Scott is dedicated to ensuring the entrepreneurial success of design professionals, as well as creating positive environmental impacts through design work. Read Scott’s full bio here.

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