Home inspections often come up with reasonably minor issues that aren’t overly costly to fix. Cosmetic issues and leaky taps or toilets are relatively minor problems that will be included on your home inspection report but won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Sometimes, however, a home inspection will turn up something more serious and present a high cost to you as the potential new or current homeowner.
Below, we’ll run through what the most common expensive issues are and what the average cost to repair them is likely to be so that you can prepare for what your inspection report may come back with.
Top 5 most expensive home inspection problems
It’s never fun to find out that your home or a home you’re thinking of purchasing has a significant issue with a critical system. Finding out ahead of time from a home inspection is far less stressful than skipping the inspection and learning that you’re responsible for a hefty repair bill when the home is already yours.
Some of the more expensive fixes might be apparent based on how the home looks, and others can be hidden behind walls or belowground and require an expert eye to spot.
A trained home inspector will go through each of a home’s major systems, looking for damage, wear and tear, or any other issues that may mean they’ll need an expensive repair to make them safe and functional.
Most poured concrete foundations will show small, superficial cracks caused by shrinkage when the concrete cures. A home inspector will check to ensure these cracks are superficial while keeping a close eye for more tangible signs that your foundation may need repairs.
Bulging in the foundation’s walls, uneven floors, cracked tiles, doors that no longer sit properly in their frames, and leaks are all signs that your foundation has shifted and may need fixing.
Due to soil settling and temperature fluctuations, the earth you excavated to pour your foundation moves over time. If that movement is significant, it can cause more severe damage to your foundation.
The cost to fix foundations varies wildly depending on what repairs are needed. Sealing cracks is superficial, but repairing leaks or raising your foundation is more costly. Cost estimates range from a few hundred dollars for sealing cracks to upwards of $15,000 for raising a sinking foundation.
A leaky roof is a homeowner’s nightmare since the damage that can be caused by moisture has the potential to impact your electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems as well, not to mention causing mold and mildew damage.
A leaky roof can be traced back to several sources, but the main culprits are improperly installed roofing material, like shingles or metal roofing, damage from a storm or falling debris, and age.
Depending on the extent of the damage, you could be looking at a bill anywhere from $200 to over $7,000. The current national average for roof repair bills is $950. Keep in mind that the cost is just for the repair of the roof itself. It doesn’t include repairs for damage caused by leaks in the rest of the home. The price will be much greater if you need a new roof entirely.
In most cases, when major roofing repairs are required, the buyer will either renegotiate the home’s asking price or walk away from the deal simply since the cost is so high.
If the home you’re thinking of purchasing is in a residential area within regional limits, most likely it’s connected to municipal sewage and does not have a septic system. If that’s the case, you’re free and clear of any septic system woes!
If a property you’re looking at does have a septic system, it’s definitely worth having it inspected by a pro since repair costs can get expensive quickly if there are issues. Septic tanks and the lines that carry waste to them are subject to wear over time, especially if the system hasn’t been pumped frequently enough, if solids have been put in, or if harsh chemicals have been put down drains in the home.
Septic systems operate underground and, therefore, out of sight, meaning they can often go overlooked and suffer degradation from a lack of routine maintenance. If they have been well looked after and routinely pumped and inspected, you’re probably in the clear from significant issues except for age. If your septic system does need to be replaced, you can expect a substantial bill to the tune of $15,000 and upwards, depending on your location, availability of septic contractors, and the type of ground on your property.
Water damage in a home can be caused by something dramatic like a flood from a broken pipe or faulty appliance or a far more subtle cause, like a slow roof leak. Chances are, if the water damage were from an event like a flood, the remediation and repairs would have covered mold and mildew sources. However, if the previous homeowner saw something like a stain on some drywall and simply replaced the stained patch without identifying the cause of it, there could be more far-reaching damage hidden.
Home inspectors will look for the visible signs and, if they’re qualified, may recommend an infrared scan to be done. Infrared thermography (IRT) will show moisture lurking behind walls, crawlspaces, and beneath floor finishes.
If moisture damage is found, the repair cost will depend on where the damage is, how easily accessible it is, and if any electrical or plumbing components need replacing. Not to mention, the source of the water damage will need to be identified, which will likely add a potentially significant amount to your bill.
The most common reasons for faults in HVAC systems are generally poor maintenance or old age. While you can avoid these issues with timely parts replacement and routine maintenance, it’s possible that your home inspector may find that certain parts of your HVAC system, or even the whole thing, need to be repaired or replaced.
Regarding heating, one of the more costly issues you can find is a leak in a gas line. Depending on where the leak is, it can get expensive quickly, potentially involving multiple trades and coordination to get to the leak, repair it, and then refinish any surfaces that need removing during the process.
Finding out that a prospective property, or your own, has significant required repairs is never fun, but a home inspection allows you to get out in front of the issues and have them fixed or have the homeowner make repairs before you buy. Doing this avoids expensive surprises that can very easily cause more damage than if they have been dealt with proactively. The bottom line is that even if a home inspection uncovers costly repairs, it’s still better to know early and be aware of your options.