Certified Building Code Official and Certified Master Inspector

Common Issues Found During Home Inspections

This is a list of problems, in random order, that I have encountered during a home inspection and some are important enough to change a buyers mind.

Visible signs of water running through a basement.  Although most new home buyers will not encounter this problem, you would be surprised at how many older homes may have this problem.  Personally I think this problem would prevent me from buying that home every time.

Visible structural movement of masonry or poured concrete walls.  Unless the structural movement was caused by being hit by a vehicle, this is again one of those deficiencies that would make me walk away.  If there are problems with a home’s foundation then it will cause problems with the whole house.

Galvanized Pipe CorrosionGalvanized plumbing is mainly found in century type homes and can be a major headache.  The biggest problem is that many insurance companies will not insure a home which has galvanized plumbing installed.  One reason is the it is already long past its life expectancy and could fail at any time.  Some home owners have all visible galvanized replaced but leave it in place in service chases up to first and second floor fixtures.

No Building Permit for Renovations can be very detrimental to the sale of a home.  Depending on the size of the renovation and the amount of plumbing, electrical and HVAC work done, the financial implications can be quite daunting to a home buyer.  No permit indicates that none of the home systems were inspected prior to covering with finished product.  The cost of removing drywall and / or flooring to replace or repair any of the systems would probably be greater than the cost of the original renovation.

vermiculite insulationVermiculite insulation is present in many older homes and may or may not contain traces of asbestos.  Although there was only one mine in Libby, Montana, which produced the contaminated insulation, it was sold under many Trade names.  You cannot tell if a particular batch of vermiculite has asbestos without laboratory testing.  An attic full of asbestos would be considered a Class Two hazard and is expense to have removed.  Read more …..

Aluminum wiring was commonly used in place of copper in the early 1980’s due to high price of copper.  Many insurance companies will not insure a home that has aluminum wiring due to its susceptibility to corrosion which causes heat and could potentially cause a fire.  Many home owners go to great lengths to try and hide the fact that there is aluminum wiring.  Usually any accessible aluminum wire is replaced with copper.  Read more…..

60 amp Services are not acceptable to most insurance companies in Canada.  Many older homes, especially cottages which have been turned into four season homes, will often have a 60 amp service unless it has been upgraded.   I have inspected many homes that have a 100 amp service panel but are supplied by a 60 amp switch.   The size of the panel on the wall is not the governing factor, the size of switch controlling the power coming in determines what amperage is available.

Pony Panels connected to bus bars in main panel .  You are not allowed to take a electrical feed directly off the bus bar in the main panel.  The feed for the sub panel must come from a breaker to provide protection for the feed.  Many older panels are found to have had one or two pony or service panels hooked directly to the bus bar which is not permitted.

Sump pumps are sometimes hooked directly into municipal drains.  This may be permitted by the municipality in exceptional circumstances but is typically not allowed.  Some municipalities have hefty fines if they find someone discharging sump pump into municipal drain.

Reversed polarity on wall outlets is quite common when homeowners do their own electrical wiring.  Since electrical outlet now have holes in back of outlet where you can just insert the bare electrical cable the amount of reversed polarity deficiencies has increased dramatically.  When using the outlet screws to secure the wire most people figured out that the black wire went on the dark screw and the white wire went on the light screw, but when using the push in the hole method, it became a 50/50 crap hoot.  Unless you have a electrical tester you would never know the difference.  When a circuit has reversed polarity the light fixture socket where the bulb screws in would now become live and if you touched it while screwing in a light bulb you would get a shock.

Basement stairs not protected on open side.  Most people are completely un-aware that when your basement is un-finished your basement stairs is allowed to have an open side.  Technacally as soon as you finish part of your basement you are required to protect the open stairs with wall, partial wall or guards to within 600 mm of floor.  Height of guards or wall is to be a minimum of 900 mm.  Also when basement is finished you should have a 3 way light switch which can be operated from either the top or bottom of stairs.

Extension Cords used as permanent wiring.  The electrical code does not allow extension cords to be used as permanent wiring.  70% of garages I go into have an extension cord powering the auto door opener.  Recent changes in Ontario requires outlets to be installed for each door for new construction, which makes sense and you have to wonder why it took so long, it’s not like they just invented the auto door opener.

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