Inspections can certainly help you decide what items you need to negotiate for repairs or if you just need to run screaming away from the money pit as fast as you can. The State of Texas has Inspector Guidelines that are often not the adopted Building Code in the areas where the property is located and then the Inspectors must inspect them like they were built yesterday. Good Inspectors take the age of the house into consideration and advise you accordingly. We always insist our Buyers get home inspections on their future home, but inspections are not fool-proof and the inspectors themselves can only do so much!
Electrical Problems – The inspector checks the breaker box for open slots and overheating breakers. They also check for grounding. They check the outlets and GFCI’s that they can get to – and hence lies the problem. They are not allowed to move furniture, boxes, or anything out of their way, so items can be missed.
HVAC System Issues – They test temperatures for the day they are inspecting the system and it must blow hot air in heat mode and must blow cool air (with a 13-20 degree differential from the ambient room air) in the summer time. What they can’t tell is if there is a leak in the system, if there is a cracked heat exchanger or the expected life expectancy of the unit. It’s usually best to ask the Seller to have the system cleaned and serviced at the very least.
Structural Issues – Due to furnishings and access issues, Inspectors can’t often see all the cracks that might be present to indicate there might be a structural problem with the home. If they see multiple cracks, or even one large crack, in sheetrock or brick exterior, they may well advise you to have a structural engineer look at the property. A Structural Engineer often writes a report indicating the size of the cracks, the age of the home, whether they think it is more about routine settling, and then will tell you they can’t assess whether it will move more in the future or not!
Leaks – While they are there, the inspector runs a lot of water through the plumbing system but that is often not enough to point out some leaks. Also, things get jostled when the homeowner is packing and moving that could lead to a leak. And let’s not forget, if the house is sitting empty, leaks may have dried up with utilities turned off and may not be evident until after you move in!
Sewer Line Stoppages – Inspectors rarely catch stoppages or if there is an issue with the sewer lines. In our house we only have a problem in one area every couple of years that requires the line to be cleared. Many homes have similar eccentric issues. The older the home the more likely tree roots, winter freezes or inappropriate items being flushed will cause problems – plan on it!