Home Inspection Hotpoints

Most real estate transactions now involve a home inspector. The inspector’s job is to find defects or issues with a house that can affect the value of a property for either the buyer or the seller.

Most people believe that it is always the potential large cost items, such as new roof or furnace, that can cause impediments to the sale of a house, but sometimes it is the number of smaller solvable defects that can make the difference. Here is a list of common smaller cost defects that can generally be dealt with, either by the homeowner or by a professional, before you put your house on the market and therefore shorten the list of items found by a home inspector.

  1. GFCI. A ground fault circuit interrupter should be installed on all electrical receptacles within one meter of a water source, such as sink or tub, as a safety measure against potential electrocution. Sometimes this is difficult if retrofitting an existing home. Consult a certified electrician for installation.
  2. Foundation cracks. Foundation cracks can be structural in nature if they are larger then 1/4″, but are mostly smaller and are simply potential entry points for water penetration through the foundation. They are commonly found on the corner of basement windows, corners or in changes in height of the foundation. Though not all cracks leak, they all have the potential to. Consult a waterproofing contractor or engineer for options depending on the size of the crack.
  3. Downspout Extensions.Downspouts are generally inadequately extended away from the foundation. It is recommended that water coming from the roof discharge a minimum of 6-7 feet away from the foundation. This keeps the water from pooling against the foundation and finding any weak spots such as cracks or windows, and helps to extend the life expectancy of your weeping tiles.
  4. Tripping hazards. Everyone gets used to “their” home and are aware of tripping hazards that may exist, but new owners or visitors are not and they should be addressed if possible. Tripping hazards such as flooring transitions or lack thereof, uneven interlock or stairs and driveways can all have hazards that can be addressed by either the homeowner or a professional contractor.
  5. Caulking interior. Water. It can find a way. By re-caulking the tub, sink, shower or toilet you will not only eliminate potential leak sources, you will also find any larger issues as you are going over these areas (such as leaking toilet or damaged tile work) which can then be addressed as necessary.
  6. Caulking Exterior. For the same reasons as in interior caulking, water will find a way, at the very least an inspection and recommended re-caulking as required around doors, windows and transitions between veneer materials (ei. siding to brick). Please do not attempt to do any work on your roof, leave it to a professional.
  7. Attic hatch. Most attic hatches are inadequately sealed or insulated. In essence you have the equivalent of a large hole in the roof insulation…. By improving the weather stripping around the hatch entryway and improving the insulation on the backside to R20-40 if possible, you improve the overall energy efficiency of your home.
  8. Carbon Monoxide Detectors Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed for safety reasons at the very least next to any sleeping areas of the home, as we are the most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide while sleeping. However, there is no reason not to put one on every floor, especially next to any fuel burning appliance, such as fireplace or furnace. Legislation in Ontario is changing, keep yourself informed.
  9. Sump Pumps. Not everyone has one, but if you do it is very important. Things to consider are the discharge line, battery backups, ball valves, extra “switches” etc…. which may need to be verified or checked as well as every sump hole should have a lid of some description for safety purposes. For further evaluation talk to a waterproofing contractor or plumber (or me.).
  10. Slope/Drainage. Not all houses have the perfect elevation, or have neighbors that do either. It is important to have a positive slope of your property away from the house, this means sometimes adding soil close to the foundation (but never so the elevation is within 6″ of the top of the foundation) or raising an interlock patio that has sunk. This will help either ground water or roof water from pooling against the foundation and help keep water out of basement and prolong the life expectancy of your weeping tile. Other things to consider are raised flower beds, do they have adequate drainage? Often they hold moisture in and can cause damage to parging or even the foundation itself. For further information contact a waterproofing contractor or landscaper.

These repairs (or fixes) may be within some people’s ability but not everyone’s. When in doubt, do not hesitate to contact professionals and always get three quotes!!!

If you need clarification on any of these items do not hesitate to contact me. I welcome questions.

Chris McArthur