For both buying and selling your home, home inspections are key for identifying problems before listing or before closing, respectively.
But what if home inspectors miss sizable issues?
Unfortunately, home inspections are just snapshots of the condition of the home and aren’t guaranteed to find everything. Inspectors know where to look and typically do a good job, from top to bottom, but some things are overlooked. Home inspectors are technically not required (or supposed) to move furniture, so it’s easier than you’d think to bypass issues throughout the house.
Here are the most common problems your inspector could miss:
Covered by paint
Most homes on the market will have new coats of paint in nearly every room. Larger problems can be identified by minor damage that is sometimes covered by paint. For example, water damage is an indicator of aging or faulty pipes. When house hunting, watch for irregularities or bubbling in the paint as best you can.
Covered by carpet
Carpet can hide all sorts of problems, from worn floorboards to pests. If you’re selling your home, it may be worthwhile to check under the carpets; some homes have quality hardwood hidden under wall-to-wall carpeting. And then while you do, you’ll be able to better assess your floors with your inspector.
Animals and pests
There’s plenty going on behind your walls that you don’t know about. While insects are typically easier to identify—a stray ant can be evidence of a colony, and wood shavings are typical of termites—but animals can be another story. There could be a squirrel coming and going, but unless you hear it on your inspection, you might not know until you move in. Be sure the inspector examines the exterior as thoroughly as possible for any secret entrances.
Rot and mould
Also behind your walls, rotting wood due to moisture can wreak havoc. If water damage can’t be seen, have your inspector use a moisture metre, a must-have for anyone living in wet or snowy areas.
Roof leaks and cracks
Roofs are a tough thing to inspect in Canada, since many months of the year, snow is blocking inspectors from getting a good look. Inadequate roofing can lead to serious leaks and decay of the upper region of your home. Many inspectors include a special disclaimer of liability for roofs, since they’re tough to inspect on the best days. Some inspectors won’t get up there, even in the summer, and will just check it out from the ground or upper windows. There’s not much you can do here but ask the right questions: How old is the roof? Have you noticed any problems?
In really cold or really hot weather, an inspector will probably not run the air conditioning or furnace, respectively, for fear of incurring damages. Like the roof, the HVAC will be inspected, but could also come with a disclaimer of liability, since they can’t inspect it fully. Again, the age of the system is a good measure, as well as the quality of any exposed ducts and vents.
Not to freak you out, but there could be some toxins lurking in homes, especially older houses. Some older tiles contain asbestos, and lead was much more common in houses built before 1980, so be sure your inspector is aware of the age of the home so she knows what to expect.
While most appliances can be checked, inside and out, others like washers, dryers, and dishwashers might hold hidden problems. A run during the inspection could prove fruitful, but if the appliance has a flare-up that you’re not aware of, you could miss real problems and have to replace an appliance or two in your early stages in the home.