Common Inspection Issues You Should and Shouldn’t Worry About

Licensed Home Inspectors are required to identify any and all defects they see.  As new home buyer, that list may be daunting!  There is a reason behind every defect and not all defects are putting you or your household at risk.  Here’s a guide to what you should and shouldn’t be concerned about after receiving your inspection report:

Should

Water infiltration from the roof, the walls, a plumbing leak: water damages wood and sheet rock.  If a moisture problem is identified on your inspection report, plan on getting it repaired sooner than later. 

Large Cracks and Gaps in Foundation could be indicative of movement in the soil below the house.  Hopefully your inspector elaborates if this is a serious concern; if it is, your next call should be to a geologist/soil analysis professional or a structural engineer. 

Inadequate Deck Construction can lead to deck failure and serious injury or death.  Loose hand rails, rotted deck boards and structural support failures can all be of serious concern if the deck is at a substantial height. 

Electrical Issues like live, unterminated wires, outlets and switches without a cover, scorch marks on an outlet are all potential hazards for your family.  The fixes are not costly, or difficult; they should be completed as soon as possible.

Shouldn’t

Certain Measurements like the depth of a stair tread, the height of an opening above the stairs, the width of a staircase, height of a guardrail, width between balusters, height of the garage door opener are, in most cases, of low level importance.  The dimension requirements around stairs are based on code standards that are rather modern.  It would not be abnormal to find 9” stair treads, a 6’ doorway above the stairs, or a 32” wide stairway in a house built in the 1920s, or even the 1950s.  It’s generally not practical to address those issues. 

I will always recommend replacement for a 24” guard rail over a stair well or on a balcony; but if a guard rail is at 34” and not 36”, it’s important to exercise caution, but not necessarily in need of replacement.  The standards for width between balusters (vertical posts on a guard rail or stair rail) and the garage door opener height (4” and 60”, respectively) are defined with children in mind.  If you don’t have kids, don’t worry about it; if you do have kids, either repair or have them exercise caution. 

Hot Water Temperature can be easily adjusted at the water heater.  120 F is always recommended, 140 F poses a scalding hazard. 

Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve Piping is required to discharge in the same room as the water heater, by code.  More often than not, it is routed to a crawlspace or the outside of the house.  It will be difficult to identify if your relief valve is discharging with the pipe in another room, but as long as it is sized correctly and routed somewhere, it will be able to serve its purpose. 

Please note, this is in the opinion of an inspector who also happens to be a home owner.  Other professionals may have differing opinions.  I will continue to identify these items as required.