Prior to a home inspection, Boston real estate agent Sam Reifman-Packett makes sure he manages his clients’ expectations. “A home inspector isn’t there to hype up your dream home,” cautions Reifman-Packett, a vice president with Compass. “Their job is to find and make note of everything wrong with the property.”
Home inspectors are a bit like professional bearers of bad news. But their work can save you big bucks, because they often spot things you overlooked during an open house. Sometimes, the home inspection report includes several little fixes. Other times, they’re big, costly ones, like a roof that needs to be replaced or outdated electrical wiring. To further complicate the matter, there are parts of a home that will pass a home inspection but are still expensive to fix.
I asked real estate agents and home inspectors which finds in a home inspection can be the most serious or the most costly. Here’s what they had to say.
A deck nearing the end of its life cycle can be a costly fix and also spell danger, explains Welmoed Sisson, a home inspector and author of “101 Things You Don’t Want in Your Home.” Typically, decks are built to last for 12 to 15 years in the outdoor elements, she explains. After that, the fasteners can corrode, which could lead to a collapse, Sisson says. While deck repairs can cost less than $3,000, a full replacement can run between $4,000 to $11,000, according to HomeAdvisor.
Foundations can be very costly to repair, says Khari Washington, broker and owner of 1st United Realty & Mortgage. “The repair might even entail raising the house off of the foundation to repour footings on older homes,” Washington says. While minor cracks can cost a few hundred dollars, more major ones that require hydraulic jacking can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
A roof replacement has high material costs, Washington says, and can vary in cost depending on the roofing material and square footage of the home. While some roof replacements can soar over the $10,000 mark, the average homeowner pays $8,453 to install a new roof, according to HomeAdvisor.
New Septic Systems
A septic system is the non-urban way to deal with human waste, explains Glen Pizzolorusso, a broker with Compass in Fairfield County, Connecticut. These systems are designed to last 30 to 50 (or more) years, but mistreatment of a septic system can be very costly, with a new system costing between $20,000 and $50,000.
“It’s something that you cannot see when you fall in love with a home, and will only come up on inspection,” Pizzolorusso says. There are all types of systems, and they have changed over the years, he explains. Houses built in previous decades adhered to previous building codes, which are now obsolete, and new codes are adopted every few years.
“If a system fails and is outdated, you may be required to replace the system, but replacing a system must adhere to the new codes, so hopefully you have good soil and enough land, otherwise an engineered system with a hefty price tag is required,” he explains.
Oftentimes, water damage goes hand in hand with homes that need a roof replaced, explains Valentino Gecaj of Valentino Home Inspections in Westchester, New York. Although anything from leaky toilets to burst pipes to floods can also give way to this pesky problem. Water damage can lead to an abundance of mold, Gecaj explains, which can cause a slate of health problems. If the water damage is extensive, it can also cause major structural damage in the home.