It’s always a good idea to get a home inspection before you purchase a home. While home inspections are not all encompassing, they will illuminate areas of concern within a property. An inspector will carefully assess all major components of a home, and highlight areas in need of repair in a detailed report. Truth be told, at first glance, almost all inspection reports appear scary. An inspector points out every defect, area of potential concern, and potential pitiful with a given home. Many of these deficiencies are not something to be worried about, but a few items may haunt you forever if you decide to move forward with the purchase.
Here in central Texas, it is not uncommon to see homes with foundation issues. I still remember a home I showed many years ago in East Austin that I nicknamed “The Topsy-Turvy” house. Walking through it made me feel like I was in one of those carnival attractions with disorienting mirrors everywhere. Foundation settling is normal, but when a home has significantly differential elevations in can be a major issue. Foundation repairs are expensive, oftentimes requiring a low five figure to repair. But, that’s not the only thing. When you repair the foundation, you will likely have to fix everything above it too. Tiled floors crack, drywall will need to be replaced, cabinets and molding may shift. You get the idea. A foundation issue is something that could haunt you for years.
Roofs generally last a few decades. Obviously that depends on the type of roof and how well it is maintained, but something that is supposed to last for that long comes with a high ticket price. If a roof is in substantial disrepair, it can be a major source of concern. There may be water damage in the interior of the home, and with water damage comes potential for a slew of other concerns. Pests, mold, and termites all are more likely when they have a life source. A roof replacement is something you may be able to negotiate being covered by the seller’s home owner’s insurance policy, but even if you are able to negotiate a new roof make sure the faulty room didn’t already cause other issues.
Antiquated Electrical Systems
Old wiring in a home can be a true horror if not properly corrected. Homes built prior to the 1940s have what’s known as knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring only has a hot wire and a neutral wire. There is no neutral wire, and connections were not made in junction boxes. These are all potential fire risks. Aluminum wiring was widely used throughout the 60s and 70s and is common in many Austin homes. It poses its own fire risk with aluminum to other metal connections creating electrical resistance making the wiring hotter when in use. With hourly rates for most electricians starting in the hundreds, you can see how repairing these issues can quickly add up to a major drain on your pocketbook.
Ultimately, even the scariest of items identified during an inspection may not be reason to walk-away from a home purchase. However, it’s important you understand these risks and comprehend the likely financial costs to fix the defects. A home with numerous problems can still be a good investment if you can purchase it for the right price.
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