Real Estate Advice: House Defects That Could Go Undetected By Home Inspections

Posted by Staff Reporter ( on Jun 23, 2015 07:20 AM EDT
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Bay Area Water Inspectors Monitor Water Usagemore big
WALNUT CREEK, CA - APRIL 07: East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) water conservation technician Rachel Garza (L) inspects a water meter with home owner Michael Shain as she performs a water conservation audit of a home on April 7, 2015 in Walnut Creek, California. As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, EBMUD and water districts throughout the state are assisting customers with finding ways to reduce water use at their homes. California residents are facing a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use. (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

You can hire the best home inspector in town, but some things can still go undetected. Even the most experienced ones will not find out what's lurking behind the walls or inside the sewing system.

"The purpose of a home inspection is to find material defects that might have an adverse effect on the value of a home or its safety," says Curtis Niles Sr. of Armored Home Inspections.  "We do that through a visual inspection, and we do it to the best of our ability. But we can't find every single problem; no one could."

But don't think that a home inspection is futile; it could still help determine whether your new home is a good investment and a safe place to live. So you know what to lookout for, Trulia has a list of key defects your home inspector could miss:

HVAC deficiencies

HVAC or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is a challenge for most home inspectors. They are often hesitant to check the AC system for extreme cold or heat because of the risk of damaging the unit by running it too long in adverse conditions. Any concerns with HVAC system should be dealt with by a HVAC specialist.

Water damage and leaks

Especially when the property has been abandoned for quite some time, leaks may take time to reappear, so your home inspector turning the faucet on doesn't really detect anything. Damaged walls can also go undetected when they are hidden under paint. Leaks from a faulty roof can also be missed since inspectors only do visual assessment.

Environmental toxins

Your home inspector is just not equipped to detect for lead and asbestos which are chemicals present in most construction materials. They have been banned by the federal government since 1978 so if your house was built prior to that year, you may need to deal with this issue. Before closing, ask the seller for abatement, containment, or removal as the cost could be significant.

Blocked, damaged sewer lines

Make sure to check the structural integrity or condition of sewer lines before buying a property. Since a standard home inspection could only determine the type of drain pipe used and age of use, getting a sewer scope service is the wisest thing to do - it costs a fraction of a sewer line replacement. It will help determine the actual condition of the sewer lines and even check if tree roots have already worked their way into the line.

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